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CNN’s unbalanced coverage

An interesting comparison of CNN’s coverage (and coverage, and coverage) of the recently revealed prisoner abuse by a few Army guys at Abu Ghraib and their lack of mention of Saddam’s torture/murder/mayhem chambers. Click here.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Perhaps the different coverage is partly due to the fact that Saddam was a horrible, sadistic, and cruel dictator, who was known to carry out horrible abuses. The United States on the other hand is a liberal democracy that values human life and dignity.

Also the characterization of the abuse being carried out by a "few" individuals does not appear to be one that will be sustainable for much longer. Though I hope it will remain valid.


I am guessing you did not bother to read my post or the Op-Ed that Eason Jordan wrote in The New York Times. If you had, you would know that the top CNN news executive, Mr. Jordan, who also ran, for a period of time, CNN’s Baghdad bureau admitted in his editorial that they made a business decision to NOT REPORT on what was really happening in Iraq in order to maintain a prescence there. So, there is no need to suppose why the coverage from CNN is different post-Saddam and ante-Saddam. CNN has already done a mea culpa; the questions is whether they should get a pass for what they did.

My answer was "no" then, it is "no" now and it will be "no" tomorrow.

good point about CNN’s self-censorship while Saddam’s was in power. They certainly disgraced themselves during that time. I think that it is an extreme example of what the press does in general with all politicians in power. They have to mainain their access, so harsh, specific coverage is often avoided. Repubs would argue that is not true now with Bush, while most dems would argue that was not true during Clinton, but I digress.

However, no such motive exists after Saddam fell. In fact, I am sure that most folks at the CPA, would be thrilled to have stories about Saddam’s old abusses. I believe that most reporters are somewhat lazy and digging up all the stories on old abuses was more difficult than reporting on the crisis of the day. So for the most part that is what we have heard about.

I know that I have read about some former prisoners and rape victims in Time magazine. But again, this was after the war, and what sort of attention-span do most Americans have for bad things that happened in the past. They want scandal du jour, so the press obliges.

Again, I still think that it always plays big when the US does something bad, b/c most Americans hold our exceptionalism dear. We base much of our actions on our sense of moral clarity with regards to human dignity and rights (as well as other principles), and when we violate those, it is more newsworthy than when someone like Saddam does.

If you read the John Burns interview in Embedded: The Media at War you will see that "journalists" comepeted to see who could suck up more to Saddam and his men. He tells a particular story about Abu Ghraib prison; a bus trip out there that turned into a PR disater for Saddam when families outside the prison rioted. Most journalists did not bother to go; they had never heard of Abu Ghraib prison and did not see the point of a trip there.

CNN is a special case because they were the last Western news organization in Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War and this is the event that put CNN on the map. They carried special weight. So when you have CNN reporters filing stories that go around the world reporting Saddam’s version of what is going on in Iraq for a period of over ten years they are no longer sucking up but have become an active participant in the propoganda.

It is worth noting that CNN’s ratings have declined since Eason Jordan admitted what CNN had done in Iraq and they are now bouncing along the bottom with MSNBC.

The point of my post was that Eason Jordan was doing damage control 101 - put your version out first. And, by and large, he and CNN got away with one of the most egregious failures in the modern history of journalism. If CNN had done their job the world would have known (a) the true scope of Saddam’s crimes; (b) that even CNN had been kicked out of Iraq for Saddam - a PR disaster for them.

To get a sense of the co-operation bordering on treason at CNN go back and look at Peter Arnett’s interview last year when we was on MSNBC where he was in full suck up mode. Imagine him at other CNNers acting this way 24/7 for 12 years.

This is absolutely laughable. You want media bias? You should have tuned into Fox News on Wednesday morning when the commentators were making jokes about treatment of the Iraqi prisoners.

This is not a "media bias" issue. It is a "media whoring" issue.

CNN sold itself to Saddam. Eason Jordan is a disgrace. This is the same guy who is now hooked up with Daniel Pearl’s widow. Eason Jordan deserves to be shown up early and often for the type of media executive he was - and is today.

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