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At U.S. Request, Networks Agree to Edit Future bin Laden Tapes

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by freddy kreuger, Oct 11, 2001.

  1. At U.S. Request, Networks Agree to Edit Future bin Laden Tapes

    October 11, 2001


    The five major television news organizations reached a
    joint agreement yesterday to follow the suggestion of the
    White House and abridge any future videotaped statements
    from Osama bin Laden or his followers to remove language
    the government considers inflammatory.

    The decision, the first time in memory that the networks
    had agreed to a joint arrangement to limit their
    prospective news coverage, was described by one network
    executive as a "patriotic" decision that grew out of a
    conference call between the nation's top television news
    executives and the White House national security adviser,
    Condoleezza Rice, yesterday morning.

    The five news organizations, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News,
    along with its subsidiary, MSNBC, the Cable News Network
    and the Fox News Channel all had broadcast, unedited, a
    taped message from Mr. bin Laden on Sunday. On Tuesday, the
    all-news cable channels, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, also
    carried the complete speech of a spokesmen for Al Qaeda.

    Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, indicated in his
    news briefing yesterday that Ms. Rice was primarily
    concerned that terrorists could be using the broadcasts to
    send coded messages to other terrorists, but the network
    executives said in interviews that this was only a
    secondary consideration.

    They said Ms. Rice mainly argued that the tapes enabled Mr.
    bin Laden to vent propaganda intended to incite hatred and
    potentially kill more Americans.

    The executives said that they would broadcast only short
    parts of any tape issued by Al Qaeda and would eliminate
    any passages containing flowery rhetoric urging violence
    against Americans. They agreed to accompany the tapes with
    reports providing what they called appropriate context.

    They also agreed to avoid repeatedly showing excerpts from
    the tapes, which they had previously done in what one
    executive described as "video wallpaper."

    One network, ABC, said it would limit the use of moving
    images from tapes released by Mr. Bin Laden or Al Qaeda,
    mostly relying on a still picture from a frame of the tape
    and the printed text of whatever message was being

    The coverage of the aftermath of the terrorists attacks on
    New York and the Pentagon has generated intense competitive
    pressure among the television news organizations, which has
    increased this week as the news divisions labored to find
    images to continue documenting American attacks on

    The tapes have been broadcast by the Arabic language
    satellite network Al Jazeera and picked up by the American

    The news executives said they had never previously
    consulted one other en masse and come to an agreement on a
    policy about coverage.

    But they said the current circumstances were unlike any
    others they had encountered.

    "This is a new situation, a new war and a new kind of
    enemy," said Andrew Heyward, the president of CBS News.
    "Given the historic events we're enmeshed in, it's
    appropriate to explore new ways of fulfilling our
    responsibilities to the public."

    The presidents of the news divisions all said that Ms. Rice
    had not tried to coerce them.

    "She was very gentle, very diplomatic, very deft," said
    Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News.

    Walter Isaacson, the chairman of CNN, said, "It was very
    useful to hear their information and their thinking." He
    added, "After hearing Dr. Rice, we're not going to step on
    the land mines she was talking about."

    Mr. Isaacson did not specify what information Ms. Rice had
    provided that led to the executives' decision.

    "Her biggest point," said Neal Shapiro, the president of
    NBC News, "was that here was a charismatic speaker who
    could arouse anti- American sentiment getting 20 minutes of
    air time to spew hatred and urge his followers to kill

    The notion that Mr. bin Laden was sending messages to
    followers through the tapes seemed less than credible to
    several of the executives.

    "What sense would it make to keep the tapes off the air if
    the message could be found transcripted in newspapers or on
    the Web?" said one network executive, who spoke on
    condition of anonymity. "The videos could also appear on
    the Internet. They'd get the message anyway."

    The unusual interaction between the White House and
    television executives was set up late Tuesday evening when
    Ms. Rice called each executive. They gathered in their
    offices at 9 a.m. for the conference call.

    She spoke with them for about 20 minutes, explaining her
    reservations about allowing Mr. bin Laden such access to
    American television. A White House official familiar with
    the phone call said Ms Rice had two concerns: that the
    messages would reach any remaining terrorist cells in the
    United States and would also inflame Muslim populations in
    such places as Malaysia and the Philippines, who would see
    the tapes through international channels of CNN and NBC.

    Ms. Rice answered questions. Then she hung up. But the
    executives had agreed before the call to stay on the line
    and talk among themselves.

    The networks were not the first news organizations to
    acquiesce to an administration requests to edit or withhold

    Leonard Downie Jr., the executive editor of The Washington
    Post, said yesterday that "a handful of times" in the past
    month, the newspaper's reporting had prompted calls from
    administration officials who "raised concerns that a
    specific story or more often that certain facts in a
    certain story, would compromise national security."

    Mr. Downie added, "In some instances we have kept out of
    stories certain facts that we agreed could be detrimental
    to national security and not instrumental to our readers,
    such as methods of intelligence collection."

    Clark Hoyt, the Washington editor of Knight Ridder, said
    his organization had decided to hold back a report about
    "some small units of U.S. special operations forces had
    entered Afghanistan and were trying to locate bin Laden"
    within two weeks of the attacks on the Pentagon and the
    World Trade Center.

    Howell Raines, the executive editor of The New York Times,
    said that since Sept. 11, Times executives had not had any
    conversations with government officials about the handling
    of sensitive information.

    Mr. Raines said: "Our longstanding practice has been that
    if a high government official wants to talk to us about
    security issues, we're available for that conversation. We
    also would feel free to seek guidance if there was
    information in our judgment that might be sensitive."

    The networks' decision has not raised serious protests
    among television journalists. Ted Koppel, the ABC
    "Nightline" anchor, said, "If we want to run some of the
    videotape, our understanding is we're still free to do it."

    But, Mr. Koppel said, the videotapes by and large have not
    been compelling enough for long showings.

    The CBS anchor, Dan Rather, said: "By nature and
    experience, I'm always wary when the government seeks in
    any way to have a hand in editorial decisions. But this is
    an extraordinary time. In the context of this time, the
    conversation as I understand it seems reasonable on both
  2. garcia_vega

    garcia_vega Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 6, 2001 Messages: 2,931 Likes Received: 2
    so basically, the media and government are just filling us in on what they do all the time anyways.
  3. CIPHER_one

    CIPHER_one Senior Member

    Joined: Jul 3, 2000 Messages: 2,300 Likes Received: 0
    There should be more replies to this than "Who let the dog's out?".


    don't step to condoleeza rice....
  5. tow up from tha flow up !

    tow up from tha flow up ! Member

    Joined: May 31, 2001 Messages: 878 Likes Received: 1
    That's a touchy subject. Government controlled media would be a very scary thing, but then again media controlled government (funding, etc.) has been an underlying campaign technique for quite some time. However, the fact that 'Ms. Rice' only stated facts then left it up to the News executives themselves to make their own call really says a lot. It says a lot about the government for recognizing and making aware the potential harm vs. good these tapes will do. It also says, you see our point, and I have faith as you as an American to make the smartest decision on how to run your company in accordance with the protection of your people. I would have felt completely comfterable never having seen the video of Osama Bin Laden. It only underlined a point that was already there, he hates America and wants us to be wiped off the planet. The fact they keep investigative information off of the air also affects me very little. I would be more than happy to have my life monitered unknowingly by the FBI for terrorism links if it meant saving this country from more devistation. I think as a citizen it's my right and for our own benifit that each of us know the skeleton of what's going on with the war, but I think the 'compelling' details are innate. Though interesting, nowhere near worth risking our own safety over.

    All that aside, we still have to keep a close eye on media censoring. Second guess everything, and know your own truths.