I saw first-hand that these regime claims were lies, and I couldn’t believe CNN was making me put what I knew to be government lies into my reporting.
The Amber Lyon story is just the latest in a series of articles that expose the total Joseph Goebbels like censorship rampant in mainstream media today. The first one I posted several weeks ago exposed how the NY Times basically just regurgitates whatever government officials tell them, while the other showcased how an NPR reporter covering D.C. had to leave and do her own thing out of frustration. This is precisely why alternative media sites are taking off. They provide the only outlets left for genuine journalism.
So back to Amber. Back in March 2011, CNN sent a four person team to Bahrain to cover the Arab Spring. Once there, the crew was the subject of extreme intimidation amongst other things, but they were able to record some fantastic footage. As Glenn Greenwald of the UK’s Guardian writes in his blockbuster article from today:
“In the segment, Lyon interviewed activists as they explicitly described their torture at the hands of government forces, while family members recounted their relatives’ abrupt disappearances. She spoke with government officials justifying the imprisonment of activists. And the segment featured harrowing video footage of regime forces shooting unarmed demonstrators, along with the mass arrests of peaceful protesters. In sum, the early 2011 CNN segment on Bahrain presented one of the starkest reports to date of the brutal repression embraced by the US-backed regime.
Despite these accolades, and despite the dangers their own journalists and their sources endured to produce it, CNN International (CNNi) never broadcast the documentary. Even in the face of numerous inquiries and complaints from their own employees inside CNN, it continued to refuse to broadcast the program or even provide any explanation for the decision. To date, this documentary has never aired on CNNi.
Having just returned from Bahrain, Lyon says she “saw first-hand that these regime claims were lies, and I couldn’t believe CNN was making me put what I knew to be government lies into my reporting.”
After Lyon’s crew returned from Bahrain, CNN had no correspondents regularly reporting on the escalating violence. In emails to her producers and executives, Lyon repeatedly asked to return to Bahrain. Her requests were denied, and she was never sent back. She thus resorted to improvising coverage by interviewing activists via Skype in an attempt, she said, “to keep Bahrain in the news”.
In March 2012, Lyon was laid off from CNN as part of an unrelated move by the network to outsource its investigative documentaries.
“At this point,” Lyon said, “I look at those payments as dirty money to stay silent. I got into journalism to expose, not help conceal, wrongdoing, and I’m not willing to keep quiet about this any longer, even if it means I’ll lose those payments.”
Amber Lyon, I salute you.
Please forward this post to everyone you know. I for one want to live in a country with some real and free press. Not some CIA propaganda arm that pretends to be a reliable source of news.
Read Greenwald’s excellent article here.
This article was written by Michael Krieger and published at libertyblitzkrieg.com
September 5th, 2012 06:26 PM ET
CNN International’s Response to the Guardian – Update
UPDATE: Here is CNN International’s response to Glenn Greenwald’s story in the Guardian about Amber Lyon’s documentary, iRevolution: Online Warriors of the Arab Spring.
CNN International has carried advertising and sponsored content since the 1990s. The critical issue is that our editorial operations and our commercial operations are completely separate. No deal ever buys any editorial influence.
Alongside many other international news outlets, CNN International has carried a very small amount of advertising from the Bahrain Economic Development Board.
Before, during and after the production timeframe and airing of this specific documentary our editorial coverage of Bahrain has been plentiful, thorough, unbiased and frequently critical, as our previous response below underlines and any search on CNN.com will attest.
CNNI’s previous response after the jump.
1. False: CNN International did not air “its own documentary”.
The Truth: It was never intended to air on CNN International. It was an hour-long program about the impact of social media on the Arab Spring that was commissioned for CNN US, where it ran in June of 2011. The portion of it that concerned Bahrain lasted about 13 minutes.
Despite Greenwald’s speculation about the editorial choices that are made when operating multiple networks with different audience profiles, there is nothing unusual about this programming decision.