Oct
01
2004

An 'Outrage'--But Is It True?

CNN's Dobbs attacks Annan for calling Iraq War "illegal"

When U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan declared that he thought the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was illegal (BBC, 9/15/04), CNN's Lou Dobbs was outraged, calling it "another incredible outburst by Kofi Annan" (9/16/04). But Dobbs and his CNN reporters neglected to pursue the most important aspect of the story: Was Annan right? Annan told the BBC that the war was "not in conformity with the Security Council, with the U.N. Charter." When asked, "It was illegal?," Annan replied: "Yes, if you wish," adding: "I have indicated it is not in conformity with the U.N. Charter; from our point of view […]

Mar
01
2004

The Ratings Mirage

Why Fox has higher ratings--when CNN has more viewers

Reporting on the ratings rivalry between the Fox News Channel (FNC) and CNN is often misleading--and almost always over-hyped. "Fox Tops CNN as Choice for Cable News," declared one typical headline (Chicago Tribune , 3/24/03). "Fox News Channel Continues to Crush CNN ," reported Knight Ridder (Dallas Morning News , 2/3/04) in a column comparing the rivalry to a party primary: "Fox News Channel is winning the Nielsen caucuses." Last summer (8/17/03), the New York Times Magazine declared, looking back at the period of the Iraq invasion, "Fox was--and still is--trouncing CNN in the ratings." After exposure to countless similar […]

Jun
01
2000

PSYOPS in the Newsroom

Extra! Update June 2000

CNN got nervous when reports in European publications (Amsterdam's Trouw, 2/21/00, 2/25/00; Intelligence Newsletter, 2/17/00) revealed that PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) spe­cialists from the U.S. Army had worked as interns at the cable network's Atlanta news headquarters. The program was ter­minated after its existence was revealed in Trouw, and network president Eason Jordan appeared on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! (3/24/00) to play down its significance. But it was only after hun­dreds of media activists, responding to a March 27 FAIR action alert, wrote to CNN asking for an explanation that the media giant issued a formal statement acknowledging that the intern […]

Aug
01
1998

CNN's 'Tailwind' and Selective Media Retractions

CNN's recent retraction of its "Valley of Death" story might suggest that American journalism maintains high standards for military or intelligence-related reporting--and sets the record straight when those standards aren't met. In July, CNN (and corporate sibling Time) retracted reports that U.S. special forces operating illegally in Laos in 1970 had used nerve gas as part of "Operation Tailwind," which targeted American defectors. Based on months of research and interviews conducted primarily by CNN producer April Oliver, along with senior producer Jack Smith (with correspondent Peter Arnett used mainly for star power and "marketing purposes"), the reports contained on-air, on-the-record […]