September 11 Digital Archive

[MAPC-discuss] Fw: !*CNN: Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be


[MAPC-discuss] Fw: !*CNN: Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be



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September 11 Email: Body

Over the weekend, when reporting that the U.S. bombing raids were
intensifying support for the Taliban within Afghanistan, CNN repeatedly
commented that the Afghan people were not sophisticated enough to blame
their own government for the U.S. attacks.

Talk about perversion.  More below....


----- Original Message -----
From: "X
To: <;;;;>
Sent: Friday, November 02, 2001 7:49 PM
Subject: !*CNN: Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be "Perverse" + More

> ====================
> From: "X
> Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2001 1:36 PM
>  CNN Says Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be "Perverse"
>  November 1, 2001
>  According to the Washington Post (10/31/01), CNN Chair Walter Isaacson
>  ordered his staff to balance images of civilian devastation in Afghan
> cities
>  with reminders that the Taliban harbors murderous terrorists, saying it
>  'seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in
>  Afghanistan.'"
>  Post media reporter Howard Kurtz quotes a memo from Isaacson to CNN's
>  international correspondents: "As we get good reports from
>  Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, we must redouble our efforts to make sure
> we
>  do not seem to be simply reporting from their vantage or perspective. We
>  must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the
>  Taliban have harbored the terrorists responsible for killing close to
>  innocent people."
>  The memo went on to admonish reporters covering civilian deaths not to
>  "forget it is that country's leaders who are responsible for the
>  Afghanistan is now in," suggesting that journalists should lay
>  responsibility for civilian casualties at the Taliban's door, not the
>  military's.
>  Kurtz also quotes a follow-up memo from Rick Davis, CNN's head of
>  and practices, that suggested sample language for news anchors:
>  " 'We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this from
>  Taliban-controlled areas, that these U.S. military actions are in
>  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
>  in the U.S.,' or 'The Pentagon has repeatedly stressed that it is trying
>  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.' "
>  Davis stated that "even though it may start sounding rote, it is
>  that we make this point each time."
>  The New York Times reported (11/1/01) that these policies are already
>  implemented at CNN, with other networks following a similar, though
>  not as formalized, strategy. "In the United States," the Times noted,
>  "television images of Afghan bombing victims are fleeting, cushioned
> between
>  anchors or American officials explaining that such sights are only one
>  of the story." In other countries, however, "images of wounded Afghan
>  children curled in hospital beds or women rocking in despair over a
>  corpse" are "more frequent and lingering."
>  When CNN correspondent Nic Robertson reported yesterday from the site of
>  bombed medical facility in Kandahar, the Times reported, U.S. anchors
> "added
>  disclaimers aimed at reassuring American viewers that the network was not
>  siding with the enemy." CNN International, however, did not add any such
>  disclaimers.
>  During its U.S broadcasts, CNN "quickly switched to the rubble of the
>  Trade Center" after showing images of the damage in Kandahar, and the
> anchor
>  "reminded viewers of the deaths of as many as 5,000 people whose 'biggest
>  crime was going to work and getting there on time.'"
>  If anything in this story is "perverse," it's that one of the world's
>  powerful news outlets has instructed its journalists not to report Afghan
>  civilian casualties without attempting to justify those deaths. "I want
>  make sure we're not used as a propaganda platform," Isaacson told the
>  Washington Post. But his memo essentially mandates that pro-U.S.
>  be included in the news.
>  ACTION: Please tell CNN to factually report the consequences of the U.S.
> war
>  in Afghanistan without editorializing. Including a justification for the
>  bombing with every mention of civilian casualties risks turning CNN from
>  news outlet into a propaganda service.
>  CNN, Walter Isaacson, Chairman and CEO
>  Phone: (404) 827-1500
>  Fax: (404) 827-1784
>  As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if
>  you maintain a polite tone. Please cc with your
>  correspondence.
>  For further details, see Howard Kurtz's full Washington Post story:
>                                 ----------
> Op-Ed Echo Chamber:
> Little space for dissent to the military line
> November 2, 2001
> During the weeks following September's terrorist attacks, two leading
> dailies used their op-ed pages as an echo chamber for the government's
> official policy of military response, mostly ignoring dissenters and
> critics.
> A FAIR survey of the New York Times and the Washington Post op-ed pages
> the three weeks following the attacks (9/12/01 - 10/2/01) found that
> calling for or assuming a military response to the attacks were given a
> great deal of space, while opinions urging diplomatic and international
> approaches as an alternative to military action were nearly non-existent.
> We counted a total of 44 columns in the Times and Post that clearly
> a military response, against only two columns stressing non-military
> solutions. (Though virtually every op-ed in both papers dealt in some way
> with September 11, most did not deal specifically with how to respond to
> attacks, with many focusing on economics, rebuilding, New York's Rudolph
> Giuliani, etc. During the period surveyed, the Post ran a total of 105
> columns, the Times ran 79.)
> Overall, the Post was more militaristic, running at least 32 columns
> favoring military action, compared to 12 in the Times. But the Post also
> provided the only two columns we could find in the first three weeks after
> September 11 that argued for non-military responses; the Times had no such
> columns. Both dissenting columns were written by guest writers.
> The Times' and Post's in-house columnists provided the bulk of the pro-war
> commentary. Two-thirds of the Times columns urging military action were
> written in-house, as were more than half of the Post's pro-war columns.
> may say something about which journalists are singled out for promotion to
> the prestigious position of columnist.
> In addition, both op-ed pages showed a striking gender imbalance. Of the
> op-ed writers at the Post, only seven were women. Proportionally, the
> did slightly better, with eight female writers out of 79.
> When critics argue that U.S. news media have a duty to provide a broad
> debate on war, a common response is to ask why-- after all, isn't there a
> political and popular consensus in favor of war?
> Perhaps, but there's reason to believe that the extent and nature of that
> consensus has been overstated and distorted.
> In polls that offered a choice between a military response or nothing,
> true that overwhelming majorities chose war. But given the choice between
> either military assault or pressing for the extradition and trial of those
> responsible (Christian Science Monitor, 9/27/01), a substantial minority
> either chose extradition (30 percent) or were undecided (16 percent).
> people had next to no representation in the op-ed debate; in fact, it's
> likely that many people asked to choose whether or not to go to war had
> never seen an alternative to war articulated in a mainstream outlet.
> There is also a little-acknowledged gender gap in poll responses about
> military action, a fact that lends new significance to the gender
> in Washington Post and New York Times op-eds. In the final two paragraphs
> a 1,395-word story titled "Public Unyielding in War Against Terror "
> (9/29/01), the Washington Post pointed out that women "were significantly
> less likely to support a long and costly war." According to the Post,
> 44 percent of women would support a broad military effort, "48 percent
> they want a limited strike or no military action at all."
> Similarly, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll (, 10/5/01) showed that
> percent of men think the U.S. "should mount a long-term war," while 24
> percent favored limiting retaliation to punishing the specific groups
> responsible for the attacks. In contrast, "women are evenly divided-- with
> 42 percent favoring each option." Noting that "women's support for war is
> much more conditional than that of men," Gallup reports that though 88
> percent of women favored taking retaliatory military action, that number
> dropped to 55 percent if 1,000 American troops would be killed (76 percent
> of men would support a war under these circumstances).
> Of course, gender equity on the op-ed pages would not guarantee
> representation for dissenters-- some of the most virulently pro-war and
> anti-Muslim columns have been written by female commentators (e.g., Mona
> Charen, who called for mass expulsions based on ethnicity--Washington
> 10/18/01). But given the gender differences suggested by polling, more
> on the op-ed pages might well give the lie to the conventional wisdom that
> all Americans have no-holds-barred enthusiasm for an open-ended war.
> Even, however, if one accepts the idea that the public overwhelmingly
> war, the task of journalism is to remain independent and to ask tough
> questions of policy makers. After all, American history includes many
> official policies that were popular in their time, but which today are
> viewed as disasters. Wouldn't the country have been better off if
> journalists had provided a stronger, more abiding challenge to the
> that supported Vietnam, or the internment of Japanese-Americans?
> More than any other newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington
> with their unmatched influence in the nation's capitol and in U.S.
> newsrooms-- have a duty to provide readers with a wide range of views on
> to deal with terrorism, its causes and solutions. If the purpose of the
> op-ed page is to provide a vigorous debate including critical opinions,
> papers failed their readers at a crucial time.
> ACTION: Please urge the Washington Post and the New York Times to broaden
> the range of debate on their op-ed pages about the U.S. war in
> New York Times
> Terry A. Tang, Op-Ed Page Editor
> Toll free comment line: 1-888-NYT-NEWS
> Washington Post
> Michael Getler, Ombudsman
> (202) 334-7582
> As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if
> you maintain a polite tone. Please cc with your
> correspondence.
>                                ----------
>                                   FAIR
>                              (212) 633-6700
>                           E-mail:
> ====================================>
> From: X
> 1) Afghan Casualty Image:
> ******************************
> 2) US attack kills Afghan children in Kabul
> Live television captures scenes of tragedy, and desperation
> by Ali Abunimah
> October 28, 2001
> American warplanes struck civilian dwellings in the Makrurian neighborhood
> of the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday morning killing a number of people
> many of them children, Al-Jazeera [Qatar-based cable TV network] reported.
> In a live report from the city moments after the strike, at approximately
> 9 AM in Kabul, the television showed residents desperately digging through
> the rubble of destroyed houses with small shovels looking for bodies of
> loved ones. The television showed several bodies being uncovered from
> under rubble, including the bodies of two young sisters. The television
> showed their father crying and utterly distraught as his daughters were
> pulled from the rubble and laid out on the ground. As people dug for
> bodies, American warplanes circled overhead, and some people ran for
> cover, apparently in fear of more attacks.
> The television showed, in pictures which were extremely difficult to bear,
> bodies of children being laid out inside a building. One of the bodies
> visible was missing limbs. Adults gently laid the bodies out and covered
> them with sheets. In another shot the camera showed a head being revealed
> by a rescuers shovel from a pile of rubble.
> The television showed a teenage boy searching among rubble of a house
> possibly for members of his family.
> As the report was live, and the events were still unfolding, it was
> impossible to say exactly how many people were killed. The Al-Jazeera
> correspondent Taysir Allouni said that one completely destroyed house had
> had nine occupants, of whom only one had emerged alive. In addition to the
> dead people, the television showed a neighborhood of very simple mud
> houses, which are simply pulverized when bombed, and many dazed, injured
> and distraught residents.
> These images, perhaps because they were live and unedited, showed in the
> most direct and shocking way what high explosives do to human beings and
> their homes. These were the most upsetting pictures I have yet seen from
> the war, and at times I found myself having to turn away from the screen.
> In other news, Israeli occupation forces have killed at least four more
> Palestinians over the weekend, bringing the number Israel has killed since
> October 18 to near 50. The Israeli government has announced that it is
> postponing indefinitely its announced withdrawal from the towns and cities
> it reoccupied since October 18.
> Ali Abunimah
> ------------------------------------------------
> This article came from
> News/op-eds from alternate/progressive sources-- focusing on South Asia,
> Third World.
> ------------------------------------------------
> (end)

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[MAPC-discuss] Fw: !*CNN: Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be


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