The ‘Great Mystery’ of Iraq’s WMDs?

CBS ignores evidence from its own show

A January 27 report on CBS‘s 60 Minutes attempted to answer what CBS reporter Scott Pelley claimed was a key mystery of the Iraq War: Why didn’t Saddam Hussein tell the world he had no weapons of mass destruction, and thus avoid the U.S.-led invasion? But if Pelley had been watching his own network’s exclusive interview with Hussein on the eve of the war, he would have known that Hussein did exactly that. “For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never really knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking,” Pelley declared at the opening […]


‘The World Little Noted’

CBS scandal eclipses missing WMDs

There was much journalistic hand-wringing and finger-pointing during the week of January 10, after CBS News’ official report on its dubious story on George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era service record. (See Extra! Update, 2/05.) But another story released that week suggests that media self-criticism has its limits—especially when the press’s failures involve being too credulous rather than too critical. The final announcement that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq came on January 12, two days after the CBS report was released. The official evaporation of the Bush administration’s chief rationale for a war that has killed more than […]


Pseudo-Science at CBS

Bibilical specials trade credibility for ratings

The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark

The use of prime-time TV to sell the public a bill of goods hit a new low a little over a year ago, when, on May 15, 1992, CBS aired a two-hour primetime special called Ancient Secrets of the Bible. Produced by David W. Balsiger, the program claimed to present “startling and surprising evidence” to validate biblical stories viewed by many as myths. Ancient Secrets of the Bible reportedly did well in the ratings, and CBS has since aired two more Balsiger pieces, The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark (2/20/93) and Ancient Secrets of the Bible II (5/15/93). Each program […]


Biased Afghan Coverage at CBS

Print Media Protect Rather

Despite mainstream journalists’ claim of strict objectivity in covering the news, they make exceptions: Some stories are covered without even the pretense of neutrality. Dan Rather and CBS News, for example, adopted a cause throughout the 1980s–that of the Afghan mujahedeen. Sloppiness in the advocacy of that cause created a recent scandal for the network. Beginning September 27, a series of articles by Janet Wilson in the New York Post charged that Dan Rather’s CBS newscasts had repeatedly “aired fake battle footage and false news accounts” of the Afghan War. Among the charges: Fakery: CBS presented staged “action-packed commando” footage […]