CNN Ogles Osama
by L. Brent Bozell III
October 25, 2001
Most members of our media elite today have little use for religion, but there is one thing they do claim to worship: piles and piles of information, as much information as anyone can stand. Limiting the landslide in any way with any kind of judgment is to sell the news-consuming public short.
You can see this argument in the staunch defense of CNN's awful idea of sending six pre-fabricated questions to Osama bin Laden, the suspected architect of the death of more than 5,000 innocent American non-combatants. In a self-serving segment on CNN's "Reliable Sources," CBS's Bob Schieffer declared, "I don't think you should be defensive about this at all." Why? "I think that just adds to the store of information."
This is baloney. And it's selective baloney at that. This is coming from the same networks that hate to give our own president a half-hour of prime time when they could be making money off "Everybody Loves Raymond." These are the networks (even CNN) that refused to grant any significant time to Sen. Fred Thompson's hearings into Chinese espionage around our 1996 election because their sense of "adding to the store of information" at that time was limited to the shooting of fashion designer Gianni Versace. Now suddenly they trumpet as good journalism giving a forum of respectability to the man who plotted a mass murder of Americans.
Let's face it: bin Laden's heinous crimes have elevated him to the giddiest heights of "newsmaker" status. CNN's ogling the ultimate interview subject, the ultimate "get."
CNN does not have an idealistic reason to pose its open-ended questions to this untrustworthy liar who already has denied his dastardly deeds. They're trying to get their sagging company in the headlines and drive up their ratings, and the national interest be damned. It appears it does not matter to them if their offer ends up harming the American war effort on terrorism by giving this terrorist an international forum to promote his propaganda.
CNN's pledge of allegiance is to the Nielsen ratings. CNN claims to have idealism. When Ted Turner ruled, he fined reporters who used the word "foreign" when they should say "international." Internationalist Ted loved Peter Arnett presenting the Iraqi propaganda line without a whiff of good judgment during the Gulf War. Arnett returned to a hero's welcome at the National Press Club in Washington and admitted he really couldn't vouch for the accuracy of what he was reporting. In discussing the controversy over the American bombing of the so-called baby milk factory, which the U.S. maintained was a biological weapons plant, Arnett admitted: "I didn't see any evidence of biological testing, but then I don't know what biological testing would look like."
Back then it wasn't the truth that counted. It was the "international" pose - and ratings. This history doesn't inspire confidence that if bin Laden were to acquiesce, CNN would shrink his responses to a few, isolated "newsworthy" seconds here or there, as it does with everyone else. No, if they follow the Arnett handbook, CNN will be more likely to splash its Osama exclusive all over the airwaves, time and again, regardless of how much venom and disinformation he spews. Air it all, and let the experts sort it out. Just you watch.
CNN has a terrible track record of approaching America's gravest enemies with a pose of amoral neutrality. There was no difference between the Soviet Union and America, no difference between Saddam Hussein and America, and now the same neutrality is being evidenced between Osama bin Laden and America. That's not good judgment.
It's also selective neutrality. CNN offers to grant time to bin Laden, yet finds that there are some people who are so evil and misguided that they cannot be allowed a platform on CNN - for example, opponents of the global warming theory. Ted Turner even had their paid commercials against the Kyoto treaty canceled.
Why does CNN have such a hunger to offer itself as the devil's propaganda playground? If CNN had existed at the start of World War II, would it have been knocking down doors in Tokyo to get the first interview with Hirohito after Pearl Harbor? When Germany declared war on the United States, would they have been pining after a Hitler interview? At what point does CNN consider how its American audience, mourning thousands of innocent lives lost, will view their adventures in amorality?
So inquiring minds want to know our evil enemy. Fine. Give Osama a thorough reporting job. Show us his philosophy, his financial supporters, his insane idea of religion. Interview his biographers. How does this sick puppy think? But CNN and its supporters want to give bin Laden a respectable platform, while all the American people want is to get his precise location so we know where to drop the bombs.
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