AMERICAN MEDIA, COMPLICITY: I don't know what to make of this op-ed by Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive.

ATLANTA — Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff. ...

Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for "crimes," one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.

I have no doubt that Jordan felt awful after hearing these stories, but I can't help but imagine that the woman who had her skull crushed and her limbs torn off felt even worse. If he and other journalists had this much detailed information about the atrocities happening in Iraq, why has big media been (for the most part) so dead-set against the war? Even aside from that -- let's say that you believe that CNN really has been unbiased -- why is neutrality in the face of such evil seen as virtuous by so many in the media? It's not virtuous, it's morally reprehensible for any person to sit passively in the face of such brutality; such acquiescence flirts dangerously with complicity.

Jordan is correct in thinking that he could not have maintained a CNN bureau in Baghdad without allowing these monstrous acts to slip by, and so I'm forced to wonder how it could have been worth it. The alternative would have been to relinquish CNN's government contacts, pull out, and then actually report the truth of what they had seen. The problem is that the moral bankruptcy of most journalists prizes access to sources, no matter what the cost.



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