Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: CNN Chief Orders 'Balance' in War News

Saturday, April 14, 2007

CNN Chief Orders 'Balance' in War News

We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this from Taliban-controlled areas, that these U.S. military actions are in response to a terrorist attack that killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the U.S.' or, 'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this, that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan continues to harbor terrorists who have praised the September 11 attacks that killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the U.S.,' or 'The Pentagon has repeatedly stressed that it is trying to minimize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, even as the Taliban regime continues to harbor terrorists who are connected to the September 11 attacks that claimed thousands of innocent lives in the U.S.' . . .(Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, 10/30/01)

This memo from CNN's chairman, written only 50 days after the 9/11 terrorist strike on the World Trade Center, is telling its reporters the importance of prefacing its reports of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan by reminding Americans that what they are seeing is in response to the horrors of 9/11. With all the reports and images of collateral damage and civilian casualties being beamed to the American public, the chairman of CNN, Walter Isaacson, wants to make sure that the CNN reports are not seen as being anti-war in any way, "I want to make sure that we are not used as a propaganda platform."

Unlike the first Gulf War's sanitized war coverage, reports of the American military actions in Afghanistan were not nearly so clean and family-friendly. Reporters were allowed to "get their hands dirty" this time around and the result was that the reported war images did not look like a Disney spectacular (as claimed by critics of the media during the first Gulf War). Instead, frightening images of civilian casualties (resulting from misdirected American bombs) were very much a part of the depressing war coverage.

The CNN chairman wanted its reporters to make clear that the Taliban terrorists being hunted in Afghanistan were not the victims in this war. Instead, Americans should keep in mind the horrible vision of the twin towers toppling down on 9/11, killing thousands of innocent people on a bright, sunny day in September, forever changing the rules of engagement.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post. CNN policy attempted to strike a balance between reporting civilian casualties and protecting the image of a just war. To do this they created a policy of framing reports of civilian casualties with a reminder of the 9/11 tragedy. Afghan casualties were being portrayed as a form of compensation for our martyred dead.

4/16/2007 9:21 PM  

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