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April 25, 2004 - What gets reported? CNN slams Al Jazeera.

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CNN slams Al Jazeera for being narrowly accurate but not responsible - because Al Jazeera does not exclude certain facts and images…



First of all, the CNN news anchor Daryn Kagan is a stunning woman – you will find biographical notes and a picture here if you want to check that out.  But last week CNN had her interview Al Jazeera editor-in-chief Ahmed Al-Sheik regarding how Al Jazeera covers things in Iraq that CNN covers quite differently.  So the gorgeous Kagan woman faced off against the scruffy Al Jazeera fellow – for a discussion of press ethics.  It was amusing. 

On the site Electronic Iraq you will find a discussion of the dialog. 

See CNN to Al Jazeera: Why Report Civilian Deaths?
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, 19 April 2004

This antiwar site thinks Daryn Kagan is more than a bit foolish – as is CNN.  They cover her interview on the 12th where she commented to this Al Jazeera guy that Al Jazeera only makes things worse by doing stories on civilian causalities – when that hurts everything the world thinks is good and all that. 


Don’t show that stuff?  It’s not the “real” story?  This particular form of accuracy is bad news reporting?  I guess. 

Well, she may be right.  But she’s not terribly coherent.  I did watch this when it was broadcast. 

Excerpt (whole thing is pretty detailed) --


Acting as the substitute anchor on CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, Kagan began the interview by asking Al-Sheik to respond to those accusations, citing U.S. officials "saying the pictures and the reporting that Al Jazeera put on the air only adds to the sense of frustration and anger and adds to the problems in Iraq, rather than helping to solve them."  After Al-Sheik defended Al Jazeera's work as "accurate" and the images as representative of "what takes place on the ground," Kagan pressed on: "Isn't the story, though, bigger than just the simple numbers, with all due respect to the Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives -- the story bigger than just the numbers of people who were killed or the fact that they might have been killed by the U.S. military, that the insurgents, the people trying to cause problems within Fallujah, are mixing in among the civilians, making it actually possibly that even more civilians would be killed, that the story is what the Iraqi insurgents are doing, in addition to what is the response from the U.S. military?"

CNN's argument that a bigger story than civilian deaths is "what the Iraqi insurgents are doing" to provoke a U.S. "response" is startling.  Especially in light of official U.S. denials of civilian deaths, video footage of women and children killed by the U.S. military is evidence that needs to be seen. 

And Al Jazeera is not alone in reporting a reality very different from the one U.S. officials describe.   … But independent journalists reporting from Fallujah have described a scene consistent with the one broadcast by Al Jazeera. 


You see the problem here.  CNN is covering the “real” story of how these insurgents are using civilians as human shields to provoke American forces into killing civilians, which we do, and are forced to do – therefore CNN won’t show images of these dead civilians because folks might get the wrong story.  The “real story” actually is these insurgents sort of are responsible – they “killed” these people – by making the American forces seem to be the bad guys, because they were the ones who actually pulled the trigger or actually dropped the cluster bomb.  They made us do it.  Al Jazeera is reporting that civilians are getting killed, and will show the images, because, they say, it is actually happening.  They don’t report the “back story” CNN contends is the real truth. 

Or another way to see it, CNN proposes that the view of our government on civilian deaths is might be the right view.  They are this being patriotic and all that.

But either way, do you show the pictures?  CNN could show them too, just like Al Jazeera – and use the Al Jazeera feed.  And they could then easily argue that this is what the insurgents – these dusky devils with the odd religion - are forcing our troops to do. 

The larger issue is, I suppose, either way, do you show the pictures to give a visceral sense of what is happening to actual people?  Or do you assume people really do know what is happening and don’t need gruesome reminders of what the bad guys – you choose which side represents the bad guys – are causing to happen to women and children. 

No answer here. 


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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