HORIST: Is CNN still an American news agency?
The headline question is not meant to be provocative or to make scurrilous political accusations. It is a serious question which, of course, requires some explanation.
It is a matter of fact that CNN – of all the American television news services – has the greatest presence overseas. It is seen in airports and waiting rooms around the world. It is generally the only American news outlet to be found on the television menu of hotels in foreign lands.
Many American corporations have become global enterprises at an accelerating rate following World War II. They are often criticized for losing their domestic interests in favor of worldwide business strategies. Amazon, Facebook, Walmart, McDonald’s are all such global enterprises – just to name a few.
That is also true of CNN. More than any American news service, CNN has the greatest impact in shaping world opinion about the United States. The network is influenced by both domestic politics – taking up the cudgel for the political left – and the need to expand international viewership. While CNN American viewership often falls below its other liberal organization partner, MSNBC, and they both trail the enormously more popular FOX News, CNN tops the field in foreign viewership.
This raises two concerns.
CNN is shipping out extremely biased reporting on American affairs – especially its mendacious reporting of all things Trump, Republican and conservative. To the extent that the peoples of foreign nations have a negative opinion of America, CNN can be considered at least a contributor. They may even have greater – albeit undeserved – credibility because they are the voice of America overseas.
There is another side of the coin. CNN also brings foreign perspectives to its American audience. More than any American network, it secures interviews with foreign leaders – especially those not necessarily friendly to the United States. As a trade-off in getting interviews, CNN becomes a key conduit of anti-American propaganda.
This issue became evident in a recent interview with Irani Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif conducted by on-the-scene reporter Frederik Pleitgen. It was a propaganda broadcast from beginning to end. Zarif accused America of terrorism and the perpetrator of war crimes. He referred to Iran as a law-abiding and peace-loving nation. He talked about the pain of having their number one “war hero” killed by President Trump. He promised Iranian retaliation, but only proportionate.
Zarif denied Iran’s control or influence over the various terrorist groups outside of Iran – the very organizations that Soleimani developed and directed. Zarif claimed that all that terrorism by Hamas, Hezbollah, et al, was just people expressing themselves. Zarif even ran the litany of Democrat talking points against Trump. He said Trump was breaking laws, violating the American Constitution.
Pleitgen lobbed one softball question after another. He never challenged anything Zarif said – even the Foreign Minister’s most outrageous assertions.
At the end of the recorded interview, CNN “New Day” co-host, Alisyn Camerota, congratulated Pleitgen for conducting an informative interview. Therein lies the problem. It was NOT an “informative interview,” but an orchestrated screed against the United States – an Iranian propaganda harangue that CNN was complicit in producing.
In such cases in the past, news reporters have agreed to certain limitations as a condition of gaining an interview with such a prominent person – things they are not allowed to ask or subjects not to be raised. For example, that was a controversial issue in the past with an interview of Libya’s former despot, Muammar Gaddafi.
Whether that was the case with Pleitgen and Zarif, I do not know. But I can say that there were no tough questions from Pleitgen. He did not ask Zarif any questions about Soleimani’s established reputation as a terrorist and mass murderer; or about Iran’s violations of the nuclear deal BEFORE Trump pulled out; or about the recent attack that killed an American contractor.
On the same day, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed American Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Unlike the Pleitgen interview, Amanpour asked challenging questions – and offered counterpoints to Esper’s statements. It was more of a cross-examination than an interview. The Amanpour’s interview was followed by responses (refutations) from … Pleitgen
These interviews could not have been carried out more beneficially to Iran if the mullahs in Tehran had staged them instead of CNN. While it was an outrageous assault on ethical journalism and the free press, it was not an outlier.
CNN’s main Middle East correspondent, Richard Engel, has been constantly reporting stories slanted to the anti-American (anti-Trump) perspective with local critics and adversaries. In fact, Engel has been the featured reporter in hour-long “specials” that promote deeply biased left-wing narratives and anti-American propaganda.
Left-wing perspectives that are overwhelmingly critical of the United States is the standard fare on one of CNN’s major programs, “GPS” hosted by Fareed Zakaria. The show is a pretentiously intellectual platform for the hypocritical liberal diplomatic establishment. Zakaria is also a frequent guest panelist on any number of CNN programs — and a weekly columnist for the Washington Post.
It should concern every American that a major domestic news outlet is being used – wittingly or unwittingly – as an international propaganda vehicle by America’s enemies – and the enemies of the civilized world. It is unfortunate that CNN’s anti-Trump, anti-Republican, anti-conservative perspective has turned CNN into an international anti-American communications agency.
It is true that NBC, CBS, ABC and MSNBC are biased in their reporting, but at least they are not being seen by millions of people around the globe. CNN may claim to be “the most trusted name in news,” but it really depends on who you ask.
So, there ‘tis.