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Sunday, September 23, 2012

CNN's Crosses the Line?

On Wednesday night Anderson Cooper announced 360 had obtained exclusive information about the climate that lead up to Ambassador Chris Steven's death in Benghazi. Little did viewers know at the time that the source was the deceased Ambassador's own journal. Here's the video from Wednesday's AC360:

video

Anderson Cooper addressed CNN's use of Ambassador Steven's private journal, found in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, as a source for their news stories on Friday evening's 360.  Here's that video:

video

U.S.State Department official Philippe Reines  said: "Given the truth of how this was handled, CNN patting themselves on the back is disgusting." He said it took repeated prodding to get CNN to agree to return the journal. "When the senior most levels of CNN were finally reached, they needed to be convinced to do the right thing."

This story has received a great deal of press on Saturday and we can expect the Sunday news programs to have a lot to say on the subject.  Here's a list of a few of the more notable mentions as of our publishing time.

CNN
The Wall Street Journal
ABC News
Huffington Post

Late addition: Sunday's Op-Ed in the Washington Post


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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am repulsed by how low Anderson Cooper & CNN went to get an exclusive. To read from a dead man's journal before his family has had the chance to review the contents is despicable. This once powerful news organization has sunk to new lows. I really hope there are severe consequences for their actions.

Anonymous said...

CNN/Anderson 360 had no right to go against the families wishes and their statements have been defensive and arrogant. CNN/AC360 has had a longstanding vendetta against President Obama and they recruit John McCain to frequently disparage the administration's actions without bringing in someone from the Democratic aisle to present another opinion. CNN's actions in this prove they cannot be trusted. Very dumb move.

Anonymous said...

I take a different view about this matter.
The State Department is obviously upset because of protocol and not because of CNN's reporting after the fact.
This puts the State Department in a very bad light, as though the Ambassador had forewarned those in charge that he was in danger and yet no one responded.
The State Department as well as the Obama Administration is going to have to be, held accountable for their inaction.
It is a matter of beating up the messenger.
Forty years ago this kind of journalism would have been a good thing because it was investigative journalism and we should have more of it, not less.
There were warnings that clearly went unheeded, that is an embarrassment of major proportions.
Good job CNN for doing what you are supposed to be doing.

Anonymous said...

The head of news gathering at CNN is Senior VP Parisa Khosravi. The ultimate decision whether or not to use this material on-air lies with her - not the correspondents in Libya. Not Anderson Cooper. Parisa Khosravi is the editorial gatekeeper - and should take the blame for this. That kind of responsibility is why she is paid a high salary.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:55

While I respect your right to hold your own view, where are the facts to support your claims?

If you watched AC360 on Wednesday night (or even the first clip in this post) you know that CNN/Anderson Cooper/AC360 claims they don't know if the light security around Amb Stevens was "because he wanted it that way" or if he voiced his concerns/warnings to the State Department and they went unheeded. So, please explain "held accountable for their inaction" because from what I've seen on CNN/AC360 both Wednesday and Friday night, they haven't been able to prove any wrong doing by the State Dept or the Obama Administration. I'm sure if they had any shred of proof, they would have shared it. One of the guests on Wednesday night's AC360 had met with Amb. Stevens not long before the attack and he never mentioned any concerns to her. So the fact that Amb. Stevens wrote concerns in his journal, doesn't mean he shared those concerns with anyone. He obviously didn't document in his journal that he had voiced his concerns and the State Department or Obama Administration ignored him, because you know CNN/AC360 would have reported that instead of saying they didn't know. There are simply no facts to support your view.

What facts we do have: CNN contacted the family to ask permission to use information in the journal on air and were told NO by the family several times, but did it anyway; that CNN made a transcript of the 7 journal pages and floated them around their newsroom before contacting the family; that the family asked the State Dept to intervene on their behalf and when they did, CNN basically lied to them as well. Where is CNN's journalistic integrity? Apparently, they have none, b/c there really wasn't anything "newsworthy" in the journal and they played it up to make it sound like the State Department and the Obama Administration ignored Amb. Stevens concerns, when in fact, Anderson Cooper stated on air they didn't know what happened. IMO, if you don't know what happened, perhaps it's best not to make it a breaking news story; and if you make a promise to a grieving family, it's best to keep that promise.

If you are truly concerned about security at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, perhaps it would be best for you to contact your Republican congressman, as they have been the ones proposing greater cuts in this area than the Congress has actually passed the last two years. Basically, Republicans are the ones responsible for the cuts to U.S. Embassy and Consulate security the last two years and those proposed for the upcoming budget years, yet John McCain and others go on air to bash the Obama Administration in this area. Where is CNN/AC360's reporting on this matter? Oh, yes, that's right, it doesn't fit CNN's narrative on the Obama Administration and apparently, facts elude you, too?

Anonymous said...

@11:55 and @12:44
You both make good arguments. I am having a hard time deciding how I feel about this. On one hand, the journal did have news worthy content but AC should have mentioned the source from the beginning. Yes, it shows State in a bad light but not entirely damning - it is CNN's job to hold all powerful organizations accountable so they were right to ask questions. Stevens journal could have calmly been explained as private concerns that weren't necessarily made public or formalized to State. I do think State had an un-necessarily harsh response which only made this a bigger deal and made it look like they had something to hide. Clearly CNN had some ambivelance about sharing the journal's contents or they would have sourced it right from the start. It was a tough call.

Anonymous said...

There's no "appropriate" or "inappropriate" reporting. There's just reporting or no reporting. CNN decided to report, i.e. to do its job. If the government didn't want them to use the journal, why didn't the government stop them from entering the building? The journalists were basically invited to go in there and they just did what they are supposed to do - report the news. A good decision in Atlanta at last!

The ATC Team said...

There seems a great deal of push back being done by CNN today on this controversy. Since we may have been hasty in saying CNN crossed the line we have added a ? to our title and will leave you to form your own opinion.

Anonymous said...

So what did this reporting gain CNN or it's viewers? Did they provide any facts on what happened on 9/11 concerning the lack of security and whether it was a break down by the State Dept or at Amb. Stevens request? Seems like they are manufacturing news based on a musing in Amb. Stevens diary and a bunch of pundits giving their opinions of what may have happened. I see no news or reporting value in what they have produced from this or have some facts been presented that I missed?

Anonymous said...

Republicans cut Security funding and refused to enact the president's plan for additional protections so why won't Anderson report this instead of just one sided Obama admin bashing and speculation?

Anonymous said...

@12:44PM "because there wasn't anything newsworthy in the journal."
This is an assumption on your part.
Did you actually read the journal?
Was any part of it published that you can't be objective?
"there is no appropriate or inapproprate reporting."
Yes, there is.
Factual reporting is appropriate reporting, not subjective reporting to slant what is said to make it "appear partisan" when in fact it is not.
Since when are journalists with integrity, though there are few,
obligated to reveal their sources?
Just because it happens to be CNN, doesn't mean it was automatically partisan.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:14 - I'm Anon @12:24 and no I have not read the diary. I'm simply going by CNN's statement that they reported what was "newsworthy" from the diary. Since they didn't report anything factual in the segment, Anderson himself said "we don't know what happened", I'm guessing there was nothing "newsworthy" to report. I know dealing in facts is a new concept - but opinion and speculation is just that - it's not "news" and should not be called "Breaking News".

Anonymous said...

@11.14 of course factual reporting is appropriate reporting, otherwise it wouldn't be called reporting at all, I don't think we disagree on that. If the ambassador wrote a claim in the diary that was subsequently confirmed from multiple sources, and no one is denying that it was confirmed from multiple sources, then CNN did some factual reporting, not subjective guessing. Calling THAT inappropriate just because someone, even if it was ambassador's family, didn't want some facts to be published is what I was referring to. Maybe CNN could have handled it better by not making any promises to the family in the first place, but that part of the story is really irrelevant to the public.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 10:11 I think we agree on most things here, but I would like someone to point out to me what the "breaking news" was - since Cooper himself stated they simply didn't know what happened that night. None of their sources confirmed that Stevens requested security and was denied; none of their sources confirmed that Stevens spoke to anyone at the State Dept about concerns. What exactly did these sources confirm - that Benghazi was in a chaotic state with a lot of extremists fighting for power? I think anyone following the region knew this to be true. Therefore, I'm not sure what news CNN/AC360 delivered - but rather they raised questions that they had no answer to and indicated that the US Government was somehow responsible for the death of Amb Stevens and three other Americans. They did this with evidence they removed from a crime scene and prior to an investigation being completed that will hopefully answer the questions of what happened that night.

If CNN truly had "information that could impact the national security of the United States and the safety of U.S. installations in other countries" perhaps it would have been in the country's best interest to work cooperatively with the US State Dept. vs. broadcasting such information. Actually, I saw nothing in their reporting that substantiated their statement.

Again on last night's AC360 they had Baer and Townsend weighing in with their opinions vs the reporting like the major networks that Libyan security officials had been asked to secure the ruins of the mission after all the American staff were evacuated in the hours of the attack, by the US State Dept.; that there is an FBI team in Tripoli as part of the investigation but waiting on the Libyan government to provide safe passage for them in Benghazi. These are the facts that CNN could report, but chose not to because it isn't "sensational" enough for their current reporting style.

There's a reason their network ratings keep reaching new lows and it's becoming more evident by the day; when you manufacture news vs report facts, most people tune out.