Just Above Sunset
April 25, 2004 - What gets reported? CNN slams Al Jazeera.
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.
Don’t show that stuff? It’s not the “real” story?
This particular form of accuracy is bad news reporting? I guess.
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.
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.
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