CNN's Use of Amb. Stevens' Diary Sparks Uproar
The way in which CNN went about reporting revealing information from the perspective of late Amb. Chris Stevens is coming under attack.
Stevens was killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya on September 11, and his personal diary was found by an embassy staffer in the wreckage in the days that followed the attack. CNN went on to use the diary, against the family's wishes, in their reporting. CNN executive Mark Whitaker issued a statement today, defending the decision:
"CNN negotiated, had a conversation with the family. Respected
the obligation to leave out personal details and only report what it was obligated and newsworthy to report. The fact that the government wants to stand as the moral arbiter on this frankly offends me."
Conservative talk show host Jim Pinkerton and Fox News contributor Alan Colmes debated the usage, with both men not straying far from the other in their perspective on the network's ethical liability.
"The family apparently asked for them to look at it before agreeing to air it ... once they agreed to do that and breached that agreement, that's what I find troubling about it," Colmes said.
Pinkerton defined journalism as having the responsibility to report such findings. "The larger issue of finding a diary of an important historical event on the scene four days later ... every scoop and exclusive and leak in history has been because somebody else didn't want it."
"Journalism is the first draft of history ... if it hurts people's feelings that's unfortunate, but that's what makes journalism necessary," Pinkerton added.
The journals also revealed Stevens' concerns about his own security, as well as worries over the influence and role of Al Qaeda. These issues, Colmes said, do outweigh his family's apparent request ... but "with the caveat that they never should have promised the family to sit on [the journal before airing it]."