Jewish World Review April 21, 2003 / 19 Nisan, 5763
The "Collaborators' News Network"
DOHA, Qatar If White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer were to hand a CNN
correspondent a news release, and tell him to read it verbatim, and to
disguise its source, the odds are that the CNN correspondent wouldn't do it,
but would be indignant, and that that indignation would spread rapidly
throughout the news media. The heavy-handed attempt to "manage the news"
would be denounced from every media pulpit in the land.
But this is precisely what CNN has been doing for years in Baghdad.
"I was on the roof of the Ministry of Information . . . . A producer came up
and handed me a sheet of paper with handwritten notes. 'Tom Johnson [then
CNN president] wants you to read this on camera,' " former CNN correspondent
Peter Collins recalled. "I glanced at the paper. . . . It was an
item-by-item summary of points made by Information Minister Latif Jassim
with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan."
"Mr. Jordan" is Eason Jordan, chief news executive of CNN, who confessed
recently in the New York Times that CNN's Baghdad bureau suppressed
information about Saddam Hussein's crimes.
Collins, who worked for CNN in early 1993, recalled in a recent Washington
Times piece how then Baghdad bureau chief Brent Sadler had dressed him down
for reporting, accurately, that the Ministry of Information's claims that
U.S. aircraft enforcing the "No Fly" zone in northern Iraq had attacked
Iraqi farmers were lies. On inspecting the site, Collins learned that the
target of the bombing had been two SA-6 antiaircraft missile batteries.
"Petah, you know we're trying to get an interview with Saddam," Collins said
Sadler told him. "Your piece last night was not helpful." Collins decided to
leave CNN after his three-month contract ended.
Among the news Eason Jordan acknowledged suppressing in his New York Times
op-ed was the declaration to him by Saddam's son Qusay that he intended to
murder his brothers in law (who had defected to Jordan, but were lured
back), and that government thugs had threatened to torture and kill Iraqi
employees of CNN.
Meanwhile, CNN's current Baghdad bureau chief, Jane Arraf, was reporting
Saddam's 100 percent victory in a presidential election was "a message of
defiance to U.S. President George Bush." Had Ms. Arraf mentioned that Iraqis
who criticized Saddam had their tongues cut out, viewers could have put that
"message of defiance" into perspective.
Jordan did not say whether he knew about the prison for children maintained
by Saddam Hussein, but Margaret Wente, a columnist for the Toronto Globe &
Mail, is convinced that he and other journalists in Baghdad did:
"All of them, every one, heard the childrens' screams. But they kept it to
themselves," Wente wrote.
Jordan maintains that he had to keep silent, because otherwise CNN could not
have brought the world news from Baghdad. But CNN wasn't reporting news. It
was telling lies.
CNN "allowed a tyrant to enforce a tyrant's rules on a supposedly powerful
American news organization whose currency is truth," the Arizona Republic
said in an editorial.
The Republic aside, the disclosures about CNN haven't produced nearly the
outrage among other journalists that could have been expected if the network
had carried water for the White House or the Pentagon. But, hey, Saddam may
be a vicious mass murderer who tortures children. But Bush is a . . .
Even without pressure from "minders" from Saddam's Ministry of Information,
CNN and other news organizations continue to distort the news coming from
The war in Iraq was conducted with remarkably little "collateral damage."
But you don't hear a word of that on CNN.
'The most surreal experience of the war has been to watch the good-natured
Baghdadi crowds streaming out of government office buildings carrying air
conditioners and furniture, waving at passing GIs - and then to read the
feverish commentary about the latest American 'crime': 'failing' to stop
'swarms' of 'frenzied looters,'" the New York Post's Jonathan Foreman wrote
CNN reported preposterously high estimates of civilian casualties provided
them by the Information Ministry, without telling their viewers their
information came from the same guys who told them the Americans had been
CNN used to be called by some the "Clinton News Network." It might more
accurately be described as the "Collaborators' News Network."
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
administration. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Jack Kelly