Accuracy in Media

On top of CNN’s unjust suspension of conservative commentator Bob Novak, the network became a willing vehicle for the lies of the so-called “pro-choice” movement on abortion. As noted by Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, everybody recognized that the ad from NARAL against Judge John Roberts was misleading and false. So why did CNN run it? That’s the issue that still hasn’t been satisfactorily explained. CNN’s claim-that it was merely running an advocacy ad from a responsible group-doesn’t make any sense at all. This was an irresponsible group and an irresponsible network. 

On CNN, on August 12, CNN analyst William Schneider honored Senator Arlen Specter for “The Political Play of the Week” for sending a letter that helped persuade NARAL to pull its false ad accusing Judge Roberts of endorsing anti-abortion terrorism. Schneider said Specter deserved credit for trying to keep the process of selecting judges “under control.” It “isn’t easy,” said Schneider. What Schneider neglected to mention, of course, was that CNN should never have run the ad in the first place. For that, CNN deserves something like “The Political Outrage of the Year” award.

Host Wolf Blitzer tried to make up for that glaring omission in what followed. He commented, “And in the interests of full disclosure, that NARAL ad did run here on CNN. But since NARAL yanked it, it’s not running on this network, obviously, anymore. We are running the Progress for America ad defending John Roberts against such attacks. We should also note that NARAL had told us and other news organizations that its ad was running on Fox News Channel and we reported that, but a Fox spokesman tells us that NARAL never approached Fox to buy any airtime.”

It was important to get the facts straight on that matter. NARAL had claimed that the ad was going to run on the Fox News Channel. The Washington Post had also reported that false information and was forced to publish a correction. The correction said that “Because of incorrect information from NARAL Pro-Choice America, an Aug. 9 article incorrectly said that a new television ad attacking Judge John G. Roberts Jr. would air on the Fox News Channel.”

CNN should disclose all of the facts, not just a few. CNN has still not disclosed that the NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation received more than $1.4 million in 2003 from Ted Turner’s private foundation. Ted Turner, founder of CNN, is a board member of Time Warner, CNN’s parent company.

Does this help explain why CNN would air a blatantly false ad? Why is CNN allowed to get away with this?

On the Tony Snow radio show, former Republican chairman Ed Gillespie commented, “CNN knows that it is a false and misleading ad.  They’re running it anyway.  I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that Ted Turner is one of the biggest contributors-$1.4 million-to NARAL itself and he’s on the board of Time Warner and that’s why they chose to run it.” 

Why doesn’t CNN come clean?

That would have been a perfect issue for CNN’s so-called media watchdog show, Reliable Sources, on August 14, hosted by Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz. But the entire show was devoted to the passing of ABC News anchorman Peter Jennings. It was entirely appropriate to discuss Jennings and his career. But it would also have been appropriate for Kurtz to hold his employer CNN accountable for running a lie about Judge Roberts. By ignoring the issue, Kurtz demonstrated that his “watchdog” activities are extremely selective. He covered up for his corporate bosses.

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