Monday, August 26, 2002

CNN, Lies and Videotape, Part 2

Walter Isaacson has written a letter to CNN employees which is posted on the Media News site (look down the left hand column). In the letter, Isaacson addresses the issue of whether or not CNN lied about how it "obtained" the so-called "terror tapes." Says Isaacson:

In an attempt to ensure that our journalists in the field are not the subject of attack we did not want it well known that they may be carrying large sums of money. Therefore, we made the decision to tell all press only that we had "obtained" the tapes. Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication between CNN and the New York Times, resulting in the story erroneously stating that we had not paid for the tapes.

The following points should be noted: First, the moment we learned that the story misreported the payment issue we notified the writer. Eason Jordan, in fact, read the story from Baghdad and fired off an email to the Times reporter before most of us had even awakened. Secondly, Nic Robertson was not responsible for the misunderstanding and should only be congratulated for his journalistic instincts and personal bravery in pursuing this story. Third, we acted in good faith at every moment and we made sure in the wake of the Times story to set the record straight, and thus every other story written on Monday had the facts correct. We paid no money to Al-Qaeda or anyone acting on behalf of Al-Qaeda; the money was a reasonable amount, $30,000, paid to those individuals who recovered the tapes, which we all know to be a standard practice in this business.

You can read CNN, Lies and Videotape, Part One by clicking here.