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CNN’s chief news executive Eason Jordan apparently was trying to evoke sympathy for his network with candid revelations about the way it spiked news about Saddam Hussein’s atrocities.
In a recent New York Times piece, Jordan disclosed CNN had to withhold shocking news about Iraq because reporting it would have jeopardized its bureau privileges in Baghdad.
Now that Iraq is liberated, Jordan tells how one of CNN’s Iraqi cameramen was abducted and tortured for weeks.
He also tells how Saddam Hussein’s son Uday told him in 1995 that he intended to murder two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and Jordan’s King Hussein who gave them asylum. While Jordan said he felt compelled to warn the king, he makes no mention of an attempt to warn the brothers-in-law, who were lured back to Iraq and murdered a few months later.
He tells other horror stories now that he is able.
All of this, of course, raises the question of what good is a news bureau in a totalitarian country if you can’t reveal the evil that goes on inside?
In fact, it would seem, based on Jordan’s account that the CNN bureau’s presence in Baghdad was actually an obstacle to reporting the news from Iraq.
Worse than that, CNN’s presence in Iraq provided cover for Saddam Hussein. Since CNN was not permitted to report the atrocities taking place there, the world was given the false impression that conditions in Iraq weren’t really that bad. After all, how bad could Iraq be if it permitted a CNN news bureau in its capital?
Maintaining the facade of a news bureau, when in fact that bureau was officially muzzled, was a grave journalistic disservice by CNN. If you can’t report the news honestly, don’t pretend you can.
Jordan seems like an honest reporter caught literally between Iraq and a hard place. I don’t mean to characterize him as anything less. But one wonders what his point is now. Was his New York Times report simply an effort to clear his conscience? Resigning from CNN might be a more appropriate way to exorcize those demons.
Obscuring or obliterating truth is nothing new to CNN. It was CNN, some might recall, that so badly butchered the “Tailwind” story. (It was also WND that straightened it out.) It was CNN’s Peter Arnett who provided those distorted perspectives on the first Persian Gulf War. And, for years, it has been CNN that aired pieces produced by official state “news” organizations around the world as if they were produced by independent journalists.
With all due respect, it is CNN’s statist, pro-establishment, pro-globalist bias that is killing the network’s ratings.
CNN has fallen from its high and mighty No. 1 perch following the first Persian Gulf War to a distant No. 2 prior to and during Persian Gulf War II. It has only itself and its own narrow vision of news – not Fox News Network – to blame for its fall.
I guess we owe Jordan a debt of gratitude for being so honest about the way journalists are compromised by the corporate decisions of a network. It was a business decision that kept CNN in Baghdad long after its own journalists recognized that being there was a liability in terms of providing real news coverage to the public.
Had CNN pulled out of Baghdad months ago or years ago and made these revelations public, that action would have been a real public service. But CNN is part of the AOL-Time Warner media conglomerate – a mega-multinational not known for its public service work.
But Baghdad was, in a sense, the city that was so important to the rise of CNN. It’s ironic that CNN’s fall should come just prior to the fall of Baghdad.
Baghdad, though, is going to see better days ahead. It remains to be seen whether there is a liberation in store for the employees and viewers of CNN.