On October 18, during a segment of Anderson Cooper 360°, CNN aired footage from a videotape made by Iraqi insurgents, which showed themselves targeting and killing American troops in Iraq. The segment featured a conversation between CNN’s Gary Tuchman and retired Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin, a former U.S. Marine Corps sniper in Iraq who has recently published a book about his experiences in the war. With footage from the Islamic Army of Iraq streaming before them on a small television screen, Tuchman asked Coughlin to evaluate the video.
The following afternoon CNN producer David Doss explained his decision to air the video, writing on the show’s blog, “Whether or not you agree with us in this case, our goal, as always, is to present the unvarnished truth as best we can.”
But Doss’ remarks failed to mollify those who were upset with CNN’s decision to air the footage. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, responded by suggesting that CNN’s embedding privileges in Iraq should be revoked. On Monday, Hunter appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room, where he again criticized CNN’s decision. “CNN is a world observer and they’re watching what they view to be a football game between one side and another side,” Hunter explained. “They don’t see the insurgents as the enemy. They don’t see our soldiers as our friends. They see this as a — as something to be covered, to sell commercials.”
Now, emotions are flaring as bloggers weigh the costs and benefits of airing the footage.
“One might not only conclude that there is a public relations benefit for the insurgents by airing that video, but they would also be correct in making that conclusion,” writes Conservative Blogger. “There is no benefit to showing that video to Americans, regardless of what CNN says. It would be one thing if CNN had a reporter embedded with a military unit and happened to catch the moment of a soldier being shot. That’s an entirely different debate. However, what we have here is video, provided by the insurgents, of them cutting down American servicemen with bullets. That video can serve no other purpose than to bolster the terrorists. I understand that CNN claims to be presenting the ‘unvarnished truth,’ but if that were the case why doesn’t CNN air video of American snipers or of American servicemen killing insurgents. Sure, they show bombs going off, but I can’t ever recall CNN showing terrorists being mowed down by bullets.”
Christopher Arndt of Apologies Demanded encourages his readers to speak out. “CNN airs the death of an American for fun, profit, ratings, or some unknown reason that certainly does not overlap with decency. Assuming you believe that it happened, and that my description is accurate and you believe that it is accurate, the best action that you could take is to call 404-827-2600 and tell CNN what you think of their choices for broadcasting. Tell them. Unless, of course, you think that they did the right thing, in which case you should apply for a job with them. Don’t worry: you will never be sent out in the field for dangerous shots. Apparently CNN’s combat footage is obtained from bad guys now.”
Others downplayed the damage of the show.
“The outrage should not be directed at CNN for airing some reality on the war,” writes Mary, guest-commenting on Wizbang! “American outrage should be directed at the moron Bush for getting us into another no-win war like Vietnam. Americans were suckered into this war by the Bush gang with the WMD hoax. Now we all must bear the consequences, with hundreds of dead servicemen and half a trillion dollars of taxpayer money down the drain. The fool and liar Bush should be impeached and imprisoned.”