Promoted by Erick
Those old enough to remember the days when the grip the major networks had on news dissemination was firm and confident also remember the rise of upstart CNN. Ted Turner dared to challenge the network Powers-That-Be for market share and influence and won.
I remember being starved for information during the 1st Gulf War. I didn’t have cable TV and satellite TV was still in the SciFi stage. CNN did have some presence on the radio here and there but not in Nashville and satellite radio was further into SciFi than it’s video cousin. But I vividly remember some of the video shots that came out of Baghdad. CNN’s Bernard Goldberg Shaw from a blacked out, downtown hotel room broadcasting to the world as American war-planes bombed the city. Night-vision pictures of anti-aircraft fire directed at those same aircraft from the tops of Baghdad’s buildings. It was, perhaps, the pinnacle of CNN’s journalism.
Once established as a force in the field of journalism, it’s hard to get dislodged. But CNN has proven it is possible. Over the next 20 years, chinks and cracks in their persona allowed the world to look in and see what CNN felt it had to do to keep its place. Stories began to surface of questionable deals made with dictators and despots to keep CNN “reporting” when other news agencies were banned. CNN coverage of the 2nd Gulf War was so slanted it was common to hear those who had access to both CNN and the fledgling FOX News say, “If you watch both channels, it’s like they’re reporting on 2 different wars!” So much so CNN picked up its own insulting version of what CNN stood for. It became for many, the “Commie News Network”.
I thought, perhaps, CNN had decided to change course and make an effort to return to their glory days. Last Fall, frustrated with Fox’s anemic election coverage, I switched on CNN for the first time in years. Pleasantly surprised to find what I considered the best election coverage on the dial, I quietly added CNN back into my viewing rotation. I didn’t tell anyone. No need to risk having my VRWC charter member card and secret decoder ring confiscated, you understand. But if I hadn’t quite come out of the closet, I definitely drug the TV in there with me and CNN was on sometimes.
And then last Wednesday rolled around. Neck deep in Tea Party stuff here in town, I didn’t even see the video for a day or more. But so many were asking if I had that I finally made it a point to track it down and watch. CNN reporter Susan Roesgen badgering Chicago Tea Party attendees; Roesgen shilling for the Obama “Stimulus” plan; Roesgen selectively interviewing and highlighting attendees to create the story she wants broadcast. It was as bad as all that and worse. Still, CNN thought it newsworthy and broadcast the segment. They wanted it seen. This was the news of the day out of Chicago. Here was the picture CNN wanted America and the world to see of the Tea Parties.
Except that another upstart journalistic endeavor happened on the scene after CNN cameras stopped rolling, Founding Bloggers, a citizen journalist group, filmed Roesgen’s interaction with Tea Party-ers. They dismantled her arguments and not so gently pointed out either her ignorance or her bias. Founding Bloggers took the footage CNN wanted the world to see and added their footage from afterwards and put up a 4:48 segment on YouTube that CNN would rather no one in the world see.
You might think that CNN would relish the idea of finding some upstart “blogger” (that must be pronounced with a dismissive sneer) that challenged them and take them down a peg or two. We’ve all seen news organizations stand behind their stories and their reporters in the face of withering criticism and damage to their reputations. One need only remember CBS, Dan Rather and the memos about W’s military service. How would Founding Bloggers stand a chance against the resources CNN could bring to the table. David v Goliath, fish in a barrel, turkey shoot – the list of metaphors is lengthy.
Except CNN blinked. They didn’t fight the Founding Bloggers video and present the “truth” of what happened. They didn’t defend either themselves or their reporter. They didn’t begin the endless media circus of “We stand by our story and we maintain the highest standards for journalistic integrity … blah, blah, blah …” What they did do was pressure YouTube to remove the Founding Blogger video for – get this – copyright violation!
Founding Bloggers clearly sourced the material that was from CNN. They did not try to present it as their work. Roesgen’s offensive behavior had CNN’s logo plastered all over it. CNN liked it so much they broadcast it to the world! But when part of that world used their very own work to poke holes in their integrity, they didn’t ‘fess up, they covered up and used copyright claims to do so.
Now, I’m a Free Market Capitalist. I believe CNN has every right to their material and to watch over how it is used. If it is being stolen or plagiarized I support their right for redress. I even support their right to insist that they, and only they, have the right to broadcast their stories and feeds if they choose that path. The NFL has taken that road for years and, while they are ridiculed for it, there is no doubt that the NFL’s policy is that they – and only they – can show NFL film.
But CNN is a news organization. Their clips appear on literally tens of thousands of blogs around the world! And they are happy – dare I say delighted – that is happening! Why are they invoking copyright infringement on this story? Either they let Founding Bloggers roll their tape or they need to insist that YouTube pull down all CNN video wherever it appears. Any other decision is hypocritical. And I haven’t even addressed the idea of censorship, here. CNN’s foolish handling of this matter has a hundred different spins … all of them bad.
Not that it matters much now, though. They can’t stop the story and you’d think they’d know that. The word is out. There are enough bootleg copies around that you can find it if you want it. Shoot, there’s even another copy back up at YouTube. CNN’s bias and subsequent lame attempts at self-preservation will likely do more to succeed in marginalizing their brand than any of the exposes and charges of bias coming from the Right ever could. CNN won’t go away. It’s too big to fail, as they say. But they wanted to be just like the networks. They got their wish. They just forgot that one needs to be very specific in what one wishes for! Because there are some characteristics of networks that should never, ever be duplicated …