Reading the news coverage of events in Tibet, I could not help but note that it is CNN reporting (rightfully) on Chinese “officials” obstructing foreign journalists attempting to cover the unrest there.
“Just Tuesday, a CNN crew was on its way toward a site where Tibetan exiles say Chinese forces killed 30 Tibetan protesters. Yet Chinese security forces made the CNN crew turn back while they were still hundreds of miles away.”
Back in 1997, when CNN became the first U.S. based news organization to open a permanent bureau in Cuba since AP was ousted early in the revolution, the U.S. government required that “news gathering activities in Cuba be unconditional and unrestricted.” Based on that, there were many who believed the presence of a free and independent news agency on the ground in Cuba would help the cause of freedom.
Instead, CNN became a mouthpiece for the regime, ignoring its repressive practices. How many times has CNN reported on the actos de repudios, the arrests, the imprisonments, torture, and murder by Cuban “authorities?”
Very few, as documented in a 2002 report from the Media Research Center:
During the half decade that CNN has had a home in Havana, Fidel Castro probably has not lost much sleep worrying whether the network would reveal his dictatorship’s dirty secrets to the world. In fact, CNN has aired extremely few stories revealing the dark side of one of the world’s last communist regimes, and the network’s treatment of Castro himself is mainly docile. Dashing hopes that a free media presence would expose the regime’s abuses to the world, CNN has instead allowed itself to become Castro’s megaphone, providing the dictator with an international platform even while allowing him to claim that he’s being scrutinized by free and independent journalists.
These conclusions are the result of an exhaustive analysis by the Media Research Center of all 212 stories about the Cuban government or life in Cuba which aired on CNN’s prime time news programs from March 1997 through March 2002.6 According to the MRC’s analysis, CNN reporters elevated the voices of Fidel Castro and his communist regime far above those of political dissidents or the Catholic Church, while the issues of Cuba’s dissident community, the treatment of political prisoners, and the lack of democracy in Cuba amounted to merely a tiny fraction of CNN’s news agenda.
At the same time, the Cuban public was depicted as overwhelmingly supportive of the dictator and his policies, with six times as many ordinary Cubans shown on CNN expressing support for Castro’s positions than even the slightest disagreement. Instead of exposing the truth about the totalitarian regime that runs Cuba, as both Republicans and Democrats had hoped five years ago, CNN has allowed itself to become just another component of Fidel Castro’s propaganda machine.
If CNN wants to be taken seriously, they will have to clean up their act. They could start by adhering to the Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, and report the truth. Either that, or they do as advised in the Media Center’s report — close their Havana bureau.
Read the report here.