Saturday, August 26, 2006

What happened to CNN?

I was just watching the movie Live from Bagdhad with Michael Keaton. It's the story of the first Gulf War and the CNN crew that stayed in the hotel to broadcast the war live. It's impressive, these correspondents who didn't want to leave,were the only network with broadcasting capabilities, who wanted to get the story and tell the American people what was going on, with no commentary, just facts.

They showed clips of Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw, all quoting from CNN because they were the only journalists who could broadcast. One of them said, "CNN, sometimes called the little network that could, well they're not little anymore."

What happened to CNN? I remember the Gulf War and coming home from work glued to the news watching Peter Arnett showing America what was really happening. I remember when Bush said they didn't target civilian areas, while Arnett was reporting from the middle of Bagdhad showing the intense bombing, his mere presence contradicting the president.

I also remember Arnett getting fired from CNN when he gave an interview to Iraqi TV in which he criticised the American government's execution of the war and proffered the opinion that they had underestimated the will of the Iraqis. After being soundly discredited and made to appear unpatiotic, he was uncerimoniously handed his pink slip. He was hired by The Guardian less than 24 hours later.

While searching for information on Arnett to refresh my memory, I stumbled on a book by Dr. Douglas Kellner, the Philosophy of Education Chair, Department of Social Sciences and Comparative Education at UCLA. He wrote a book entitled The Persian Gulf TV War.

In it, he picks apart, not only the war, but also the propaganda that surrounded it. I only read Chapter 7 which described the coverage of the bombing of a civilian bomb shelter and ,with the assistance of the media, showed its transformation into a military bunker used by high ranking Iraqi officials and their families, afterthe public outcryturned deafening. The excuses for bombing the civilian target, or was it, could have been taken right out of the Lebanon War. Here's an example.

The noon CNN telecast was headlined: "Conflicting reports out of the war zone." CNN announced that so far there were only eight survivors, and that the bombed building was just one of many targets during a twelve hour bombing raid. (Another of the bombed buildings was right across the street from the Al Rashid Hotel where the foreign journalists and Soviet diplomats were staying). CNN then ran an ITN report by a shaken Brent Sadler who described the target as "obviously a civilian shelter" that was filled with "civilians escaping from the nightly bombing." The report contained the most graphic and horrific images so far of incinerated people, agonized families, dazed crowds, and upset journalists, powerful visual evidence that the shelter was undeniably used by civilians. One saw twisted steel and concrete with bunkers, obviously for sleeping. Iraqi civilian defense teams fought through the blazing fire trying to save people; one victim after another was pulled out, a blanket wrapped around their charred remains as the crowd broke into collective grief each time a new victim was brought out of the inferno.

Despite the visual evidence, CNN's military apologist, James Blackwell, came on again, determined to win points for the Pentagon, and did an "analysis" of the video clips of the building bombed to "prove" that it was a military bunker. Notice, he said, the steel doors that prevent people from coming in; look at the shelter sign in English, which looks like a Civilian Defense sign in the United States; look at the barbed wire around the building; look at the reinforced concrete--all signs, Blackwell reassured us, that it was a military bunker. He admitted that, "of course," the allies can't provide any counterevidence in the "public relations" campaign unless they release the evidence of the intelligence that established that this was a military facility, again reducing the images of Iraqi civilian casualties to propaganda. When asked why so many civilians were sleeping in the building, Blackwell repeated Perry Smith's speculation that perhaps the families of the military people who worked there slept in the bunker at night. He insisted that the bunker was like the one used by Saddam Hussein, stocked for the families of the military. But, he concluded, the more "macabre" reason for the civilian occupants might be that Saddam Hussein has pursued a new policy of moving civilians into these areas as human shields. At this point, Reid Collins cut off Blackwell's "analysis of what happened last night," while Bobby Battista looked down and away from the camera as she cut to a commercial break.

Brent Sadler, mentioned above as an ITN reporter, is now CNN's Beirut Bureau chief.

So that's the news, and how we get it. If you want to read the book, which is free online, you can read it at click here. I plan to read the whole book, it's free online.

So how did CNN go from the little network that could to the full scale propaganda machine it turned into for the Lebanon War? I have no idea, but it is obvious from the one chapter I did read, that the news, is not only not fit to print, is most definitely not fit to broadcast.
If you are not yet convinced that we are the viewers of a hijacked media, I will leave you with another website. If this one doesn't convince you that our media is bought and/or intimidated, there is no hope for you, go turn on a sitcom. click here

Next we'll talk about taking it back.


At August 28, 2006 11:35 PM, Blogger Thomas Westgard said...

You know that the CIA was caught by FAIR, placing "interns" in the CNN newsroom to control what went on the air, right? The CIA apologized, and withdrew the "interns," meaning the program was switched to black ops funding...

Just one more big business intersection with big government.

At August 28, 2006 11:36 PM, Blogger Thomas Westgard said...

look at this.

At August 29, 2006 9:01 AM, Blogger Rick said...


I have been very disappointed with CNN during the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. CNN has become so mainstream that they dare not report anything that conflicts with what the U.S. government or military wants to see.

Frankly, I was also disappointed by al Jazeera. I kept visiting their web site hoping for a more balanced perspective, but rarely got it. Their information looked an awful lot like CNN, only shifted a tiny bit to appeal to the Arab audience. Many things that should have been given more attention by these networks were not.

Love the site, by the way!

At August 29, 2006 9:32 AM, Blogger Julie said...

Thanks Rick, and yes I was disappointed as well. Apparently CNN International does a better job, and seems to from the few timse it was broadcasted in the we hours of the morning.

Perhaps it's time to write the cable companies and tell them we want CNN international and BBC World instead of BBC America.

Tom, I didn't know that, I did a quick scan and believe he is correct, no major news organization picked it up. There's more about media manipulation on prison planet

I think massive calling and letter writing campaigns are in order. We can't be a democracy if we don't know the truth.

At August 29, 2006 5:13 PM, Blogger MattR said...


Just wandered into your blog. I am depressed by media reporting on the Hezbolla - Israeli war. We are a world that lives on information, if that ends up being biased even in "reputible" sources, then what is the general view going to be. Where is the accountability?

Take care

At August 30, 2006 1:06 PM, Blogger Rick said...

One of the things that I would like to see develop over time is a strong network of blogs that refuse to allow stories to go away. Right now CNN, Fox, and the other US news agencies can ignore stories or dilute them because no one holds them accountable, and because the government is usually a benefactor in the manipulation.

For example, I find it hard to believe that the issue (originally aired on CNN) about the US involvement in planning the Israeli operation into Lebanon as a precursor for action against Iran was something deserving of more attention, but it disappeared. This was reported by the same reporter who exposed the humiliation at Abu Gharib.

Additionally, the continuation of the air and naval blockade on Lebanon drew no attention, as well as the story (also reported on CNN) that Israel was intentionally leaving behind arms for Hezbollah in order to invite more attacks on Israel and thus justify further Israeli incursions.

We cannot allow our media to be complicit in helping the government keep the truth from our citizens. The Fourth Estate is comprimising its own integrity and endangering a truly free press.

At August 31, 2006 11:42 AM, Blogger Julie said...

I absolutely agree and would love to be involved in such an initiative. We should talk more about this, I have other ideas as well. I'll email you.

At August 31, 2006 12:17 PM, Blogger Rick said...

Great Julie, thanks!

At September 06, 2006 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julie, I just found this blog of yours, I knew about Common Sense Comments. This is got to be the best blog I have come across, Keep up the good work. Don't know much about how to help make changes in our media, but don't be afraid to ask me. I will help in anyway I can.

At August 08, 2007 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What has happened to CNN? I use to be able to login and now somehow have been blackballed and cannot get in. no response is given to my emails and dosen't even have a login space when I go to Lou Dobbs and cannot even tell if my "vote" has been acknowledged.

At April 25, 2008 1:44 PM, Anonymous Janaice Reynolds said...

Whathappened to the daily international news program? Now all we get on CNN IS hourly regurgitation of the same politcal news. Same videos, same questionns, sames "experts." Lie the US politcal contest was the onlt important thing going on in the world. Frankly, I think you have forgotten your mission. You're boring & your watchers are cheated. Janice Reynolds.

At August 13, 2008 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to CNN? They are going downhill! I used to love CNN especially CNN International. But the quality of news coverage has deteriorated at regular CNN, the repeat the same news every 10 minutes - no in depth coverage - nothing more than what Headline News is doing. As for CNN International it has vanished from North America - I used to get it but neither my cable company, DirectTV or Dish Satellite, offer it currently. I have called CNN and asked them how can I get CNN International and they are giving me the big run around - ask your local providers (they know darn well that my local providers do not carry it). The current news anchors of the regular CNN are a joke. Today's CNN is nothing compared to the CNN I used to absolutely adore in past years. And CNN North America can not even come close to CNN International as far as serious news coverage is concerned. The current anchors are a bunch of arrogant - out of college people who make me miss more and more people like Peter Arnet, Aaron Brown, Christian Amanpour (she does occasional reports only) who used to comment on International events every single day in the good old times. Oh well, CNN should take some lessons from BBC and Deutche Welle to really if they really want to approach news reporting in a serious manner.


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