Chicago Indymedia : http://chicago.indymedia.org/archive
Chicago Indymedia

News :: [none]

CNN Says Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be "Perverse"

Kurtz also quotes a follow-up memo from Rick Davis, CNN's
head of standards and practices, that suggested sample
language for news anchors:

(a)" 'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this
from Taliban- controlled areas, that these U.S. military
actions are in response to a terrorist attack that killed
close to 5,000 innocent people in the U.S.' or,
ACTION ALERT: (by FAIR, circulated by Media Alliance)





CNN Says Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be "Perverse"





SUMMARY:





According to the New York Times of 10/31/01, CNN Chair


Walter Isaacson "has ordered his staff to balance images


of civilian devastation in Afghan cities with reminders


that the Taliban harbors murderous terrorists, saying it


'seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or


hardship in Afghanistan.'"





If anything in this story is "perverse," it's that one of


the world's most powerful news outlets has instructed its


journalists not to report Afghan civilian casualties without


attempting to justify those deaths. "I want to make sure


we're not used as a propaganda platform," Isaacson told the


Washington Post. But his memo essentially mandates that


pro-U.S. propaganda be included in the news.





ACTION:


Please tell CNN to factually report the consequences of the


U.S. war in Afghanistan without editorializing. Including


justification for the U.S. bombing with every mention of


civilian casualties risks turning CNN from a news outlet


into a propaganda service.





CONTACT:


CNN, Walter Isaacson, Chairman and CEO


Phone: (404) 827-1500


Fax: (404) 827-1784


community (at) cnn.com





As always, please remember that your comments are taken more


seriously if you maintain a polite tone.





BACKGROUND:





Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz quotes a memo


from the CNN Chair to CNN's international correspondents:


"As we get good reports from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan,


we must redouble our efforts to make sure we do not seem to


be simply reporting from their vantage or perspective. We


must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields


and how the Taliban have harbored the terrorists


responsible for killing close to 5,000 innocent people."





The memo went on to admonish reporters covering civilian


deaths not to "forget it is that country's leaders who are


responsible for the situation Afghanistan is now in,"


suggesting that journalists should lay responsibility for


civilian casualties at the Taliban's door, not the U.S.


military's.





Kurtz also quotes a follow-up memo from Rick Davis, CNN's


head of standards and practices, that suggested sample


language for news anchors:





(a)" 'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this


from Taliban- controlled areas, that these U.S. military


actions are in response to a terrorist attack that killed


close to 5,000 innocent people in the U.S.' or,





(b)'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this,


that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan continues to harbor


terrorists who have praised the September 11 attacks that


killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the U.S.,' or





(c)'The Pentagon has repeatedly stressed that it is trying


to minimize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, even as the


Taliban regime continues to harbor terrorists who are


connected to the September 11th attacks that claimed


thousands of innocent lives in the U.S.' "





Davis stated that "even though it may start sounding rote,


it is important that we make this point each time."





The New York Times reported (11/1/01) that these policies


are already being implemented at CNN, with other networks


following a similar, though perhaps not as formalized,


strategy. "In the United States," the Times noted,


"television images of Afghan bombing victims are fleeting,


cushioned between anchors or American officials explaining


that such sights are only one side of the story." In other


countries, however, "images of wounded Afghan children


curled in hospital beds or women rocking in despair over a


baby's corpse" are "more frequent and lingering."





When CNN correspondent Nic Robertson reported yesterday from


the site of a bombed medical facility in Kandahar, the Times


reported, U.S. anchors "added disclaimers aimed at


reassuring American viewers that the network was not siding


with the enemy." CNN International, however, did not add any


such disclaimers.





During its U.S broadcasts, CNN "quickly switched to the


rubble of the World Trade Center" after showing images of


the damage in Kandahar, and the anchor "reminded viewers of


the deaths of as many as 5,000 people whose 'biggest crime


was going to work and getting there on time.'"





For more details, see Howard Kurtz's Washington Post story:





http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14435-2001Oct30.html


 
 

Donate

Views

Account Login

Media Centers

 

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software