April 10, 2003

Betrayal of Trust

American media prides itself on its ethos. Among the ethical rules which journalists claim to abide by are:

  • Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
  • Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
  • Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.

CNN appears incapable of or unwilling to live up to these standards. No doubt, Mr. Jordan faced difficult choices. However, the ethical response would have been to pull all of their reporters out of Baghdad, report the offenses honestly, and refuse to remain in a position where their reporting was compromised by the Hussein regime's brutality. All of the above rules were violated in CNN's conduct:

  • The voiceless remained mute in the face of their torture, because CNN refused to give them voice.
  • CNN put itself in a position of being dependent on the good graces of a thuggish despot.
  • In order to continue reporting from Iraq, and having access to Iraqi government officials, CNN compromised their ability to report the truth of what was happening.
  • Having done this, CNN then failed even to disclose that they were unable to report the truth of what was happening.
  • CNN certainly saw, by their own admission, what was happening, but their behavior was in no way courageous, and in no way sought to hold accountable those in Iraq who wielded power.

Yet through all of this behavior, for over a decade, CNN would have us believe that they did everything they could to bring us the truth? Shame! Shame on CNN. They cannot now be trusted with any news from any nation willing to brutalize its own people, because they have shown that in such a situation, they will sell out any principle for the opportunity to get stock footage and meaningless interviews. Worse yet, by not reporting these events, CNN encouraged them to continue, and thus became complicit in torture, attempted murder and suppression of the truth.

Hat tip to the Command Post for the story.

UPDATE (4/11): Sgt. Stryker has more.

UPDATE (4/11): Winds of Change is all over this as well, and has links to others who are.

Posted by Jeff at April 10, 2003 10:48 PM | Link Cosmos

Wow. You're a real absolutist on this.

You may have heard that CNN has a bureau in Havana. Let's say that one day a Cuban knocks on CNN's door in Havana. He walks in, gives CNN his name and address, and then starts talking about what a horrible dictator Fidel Castro is. He asks CNN to remain anonymous.

Under your logic, CNN should immediately go live to Havana, and put this guy on worldwide television and broadcast his picture, name and address.

But of course, that would get him killed by Castro's regime later on. Under your logic, CNN should do that anyway.

Unless you abandon your absolutist position and make some allowance for journalists to not get people killed, you are making some extremist claims that I'd have to disagree with.

Posted by: Andrew Hagen on April 12, 2003 03:24 PM
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