|CNN says Bonnie and Clyde once inspired fans for the same reasons Assange motivates supporters today.|
This week, Jotman's Fox News Award* goes to CNN for its coverage of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
It would appear that CNN had it in for WikiLeaks ever since the organization entered the national spotlight back in April. That's when I posted my first blog reports (here and here) on CNN's atrocious coverage of WikiLeaks. Well, CNN is still at it.
A CNN story about WikiLeaks shown Sunday was interesting on two counts. First, the broadcast was not only a brazen hit-job on WikiLeaks founder Julian Asasnge, it also attempted to portray his supporters as naive nitwits. For the purpose of reviewing it here, I transcribed a portion of the segment. Susan Candiotti, CNN's national political correspondent, began:
For fans of WikiLeak's Julian Assange, his arrest has made him even more of a cult hero.... A pro-Assange rally in NY is one of many being held around the world. Applauding him for leaking classified government documents, some fans are avenging his treatment, attacking the websites of MasterCard and Visa who they blame for cutting off his financing....It's a fact that Visa, MasterCard and PayPal decided to cut funding for WikiLeaks, depriving the organization of of financing while WikiLeaks was trying to raise money for its legal defense. The banks' withdrawal of essential financial services coincided with a massive and illegal DoS attack against WikiLeaks. Susan Candiotti continued:
A former FBI profiler says that for some Assange is a modern day hero... Routing for the notorious is nothing new. At first real life bank-robbers Bonnie and Clyde captivated the public and Hollywood glamarized the crime spree... But the fan based dried-up when robbery victims started dying. The so-called Barefoot Bandit created a fan base without killing anybody... Fugitive John Robert Boon could pass for Santa Clause is a legendary Kentucky pot farmer. Authorities say supporters won't give him up and have sold "run Johnny run" T-shirts.Assange's peer group is a pair of bank-robbers who killed nine police officers, a kid who burglarized 100 homes, and a fugitive pot farmer. Clearly Assange is guilty by association. Susan Candiotti's message couldn't be more clear: Jullian Assange, who has been charged with no crime, and according to most legal experts has broken no US law, is to be counted among history's most notorious criminals. (Fed this kind of nonsense by the mainstream news media, is it any wonder that Americans have begun to fear WikiLeaks?) Candiotti concludes her segment by denigrating supporters of WikiLeaks, going so far as to imply that they are obstructing justice:
"This is just a variation on rooting for the underdog, this is just a twist on that." (expert) A fan base can boost an ego or provide encouragement, but it can also get in the way of trying to stop someone accused of breaking the law." Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.In Susan Candiotti's CNN report, supporters of WikiLeaks are Assange "fans." There's no suggestion by CNN's Candiotti that WikiLeaks supporters are motivated by anything more than a desire to "root for the underdog." Candiotti did not bother to inform CNN viewers that many WikiLeaks supporters are motivated by the very principles on which the United States was founded; that among the values that have led people from all over the world to support Assange and WikiLeaks are free speech, belief in the Constitution, net neutrality, human rights, openness and transparency in governance, press freedom, protection of whistle-blowers, and journalistic ethics.
In case any doubts remained in the minds of viewers, in the tradition of Pravda and the People's Daily, CNN anchor Don Lemon then announced the government's position:
In spite of public protest it is clear many leaders in American government think the founders of WikiLeaks is a criminal. "I hope the justice department will soon indite him and that we will be able to extradite him from the United Kindom and bring him to stand trial in the United States." (Joseph Lieberman) "I think that the release of this information has put at risk American national security." (Attorney General Eric Holder)Not quoted by CNN was Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who told reporters, "Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest."
I said the report was interesting for two reasons. The second reason? The interview exchange that followed between Don Lemon and former CIA operative Ray McGovern. That's when viewers were witness to the bizarre spectacle of a former intelligence agency man lecturing a CNN journalist about journalistic ethics. This part of the broadcast (from the 3 minute mark) has to be seen to be believed:
*The Fox News Award is a feature at Jotman.com that began early 2008. It goes to a media organization that has gone the extra mile during the course of the week to make the public more stupid. (Otherwise corrupting the ethic of creativity and global citizenship.) Some past winners.