CNN Irresponsible by Airing Insurgent Video

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On Oct. 20, CNN newscaster Anderson Cooper, in a bold move, decided to air footage of a sniper targeting and apparently killing a U.S. soldier in Iraq.
CNN stated that they obtained the video through contacts with the Islamic Army of Iraq, a Sunni-led rebel group that has carried out several successful suicide bombings and kidnappings in the country. Critics are suggesting that CNN has betrayed their country and troops by broadcasting the video.
The propagandistic footage provides viewers with a frightening sniper’s-eye view. In the video, an enemy sniper and a spotter target a U.S. soldier standing atop a parked Humvee along a crowded street. The crack of a gunshot is heard and the image goes blank. A second later, the soldier is shown slumping in the Humvee’s turret, apparently taken down by a single bullet. The footage is so murky that it’s not certain who the soldier is or to which branch of the armed forces he belongs. A man shouts ‘Allahu akbar!’ (‘God is great’) after the soldier in the Humvee is shot. The vehicle carrying the sniper then slips away.
CNN said it did not know exactly when or where the grisly tape was made, but that experts have determined that it is not a fake.
The broadcasting of this footage comes at a time of mounting concern over enemy snipers in Baghdad. U.S. military officials suggest that snipers are becoming increasingly advanced in their tactics.
There has been widespread criticism of Cooper, and it is not unwarranted. Although it has been mostly conservatives who have expressed their indignation, this is not necessarily an issue of pro-war versus anti-war views. CNN has betrayed the United States and our troops by showing enemy propaganda on national television. U.S. soldiers risk their lives to protect the press, so shouldn’t journalists be a bit more tactful and avoid fraternizing with the enemy?
The death of an American soldier is not an event that should be broadcast over national television, because it desecrates the memory of the soldier who was killed by the insurgent. Televising the killing, furthermore, does nothing but reaffirm the position of the enemy, thereby attempting to break the American will and spirit.
However, there is no way to control what the media shows, and in many respects, we have no right to do so. America is a country that enjoys freedom of the press. CNN made a controversial editorial judgment, and although it was tactless and in bad taste, the government cannot and will not become involved in controlling what CNN televises.
In the last few months, dozens of graphic insurgent videos portraying attacks on U.S. troops have been posted on YouTube, Google Video and other Internet sources. YouTube has removed many of the clips due to complaints from users.
Although YouTube had every right to keep the videos on their site by law, they decided against it. Perhaps CNN can learn a thing or two from Web sources like YouTube. It is more likely that CNN is so hungry for ratings that they have resorted to consorting with the enemy without concern for the lives of soldiers.

Reut Cohen is a third-year English major. She can reached at rrcohen@uci.edu.

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