Murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens
Even though prior to my appearance on Fox News, hate mail had already started pouring in over town officials catastrophic decision to ground the 25 commemorative flags on 9/11, the national news network did screw up the flashy graphics overlayed on my live interview, thus allowing Town Hall to paint this as an intentional right wing conservative vs left wing liberal issue (rather than a right vs wrong) best exemplified in the national media by Fox News and their counterpart CNN.
Of course I was quick to point out that even the venerable CNN screwed up this sad saga of the commemorative flags eleven years ago when they mistakenly reported the town was restricting the rights of private citizens to fly American flags. A report that was aired only hours after the Twin Towers crumbled.
Perhaps the best reason (besides the one of righteousness) town officials should have know better this time around. "Those who fail to learn from history..."and all that.
So it comes as no great surprise that CNN would remove evidence from a crime scene, read through it for news tips, and then use that information to tell a story that, indeed, needed to be told: the lousy security for our murdered ambassador in Libya.
Even though CNN promised the family of Chris Stevens nothing would be reported until his personal journal had been returned to them, the news network went ahead with a story anyway, using the vague attribution "sources familiar with the Ambassador Steven's thinking".
But CNN would not have found those sources if not for his private journal, taken from the scene of a crime.
Fifteen years ago the ABC News program Prime Time Live aired a hidden camera segment exposing poor food handling at Food Lion supermarket chain. The corporation brought suit for trespass and fraud since the reporters used phony resumes in seeking employment with the target company. Notice the suit was not for libel/slander, where "truth is the ultimate defense."
But a jury agreed and slapped the premier news outlet with a $5.5 million judgement, which was soon thereafter reduced to $315,000. On a federal appeal two years later, the jury verdict was thrown out.
Sure BIG corporations acting badly are a juicy target for investigative watchdog journalists and bloggers, perhaps only eclipsed by exposing BIG government acting badly. And in the case of murdered Ambassador Stevens, there's more than enough blame to go around.
Like Watergate, the real story is not the original act --a two bit break in -- but the cover up after the fact. In this case CNN should have come clean in their original report about a serious issue the public certainly had a right to know: inept security for an ambassador in a volatile region who clearly had security concerns, and probably made them known to someone higher up the ladder.
And just like Dan Rather's botched report on President George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard eight years ago, the watchdogs who watch the media -- blogs -- continue to beat the drums on CNN's ghoulish lapse in judgement, aptly dubbed "disgusting" by a usually diffident State Department.
Trust is a reporter's most powerful ally. If CNN did not keep their word to Ambassador's Stevens family, how can any nervous source now trust them when they promise -- in exchange for vital information -- to keep the whistleblower's name secret?