When Eason Jordan, chief news executive at CNN, groundlessly slanders the American armed forces by accusing them of “targeting” journalists for assassination, one could reasonably wonder whether he was engaged in journalism or propaganda. Many have also been wondering when the news side at CNN–as opposed to the public relations side–would start reporting on Jordan’s incendiary speech in Davos.
A reader pointed out that earlier today, CNN finally did address the issue of journalism vs. propaganda. You might think they’ve finally broken their silence about Mr. Jordan. But no! It’s the Pentagon CNN is accusing of putting out propaganda:
The U.S. Department of Defense plans to add more sites on the Internet to provide information to a global audience — but critics question whether the Pentagon is violating President Bush’s pledge not to pay journalists to promote his policies.
Pentagon officials say the goal is to counter “misinformation” about the United States in overseas media.
At first glance, the Web pages appear to be independent news sites. To find out who is actually behind the content, a visitor would have to click on a small link — at the bottom of the page — to a disclaimer, which says, in part, that the site is “sponsored by” the U.S. Department of Defense.
“There is an element of deception,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. “The problem,” he said, is that it looks like a news site unless a visitor looks at the disclaimer, which is “sort of oblique.”
The Pentagon maintains that the information on the sites is true and accurate. But in a recent memo, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz insisted that the Web site contractor should only hire journalists who “will not reflect discredit on the U.S. government.”
There you have it: CNN spreads misinformation about the American military; but when the military tries to defend itself against misinformation, it’s “propaganda.” And, while it’s perfectly OK for CNN’s top newsman to “reflect discredit on the U.S. government,” CNN criticizes the Defense Department because DOD prefers not to do the same. This is the topsy-turvy world of the mainstream media.