The Washington Times|
Sunday, March 14, 1999
Odd alliance at State, CNN?
by Stella Jatras
In my opinion, there is something unhealthy when the recently married CNN's Christiane Amanpour and the State Department's James Rubin cover the same "breaking news" story.
Ms. Amanpour, who never ceased to present a one-sided CNN perspective throughout the Bosnian war, is now doing the same with her one-sided anti-Serb CNN perspective of the civil war now raging in Kosovo. At the same time, Mr. Rubin is touting the anti-Serb position from the State Department, which is in effect: If the Serbs do not sign on the dotted line, NATO will bomb the Serbs. If the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) does not sign on the dotted line, NATO will still bomb the Serbs!
The American people should be asking themselves, "What gives? Is CNN running the State Department, or vice versa?" There is clearly a conflict here. Mr. Rubin should step down as spokesman for the State Department. How can he have any credibility considering with whom he shares pillow talk? How can there be any semblance of journalistic impartiality with such a relationship between a "news" agency and the government? If there was any doubt before, the identical slant of Ms. Amanpour's "reporting" and Mr. Rubin's "official statements" out of Rambouillet should make it perfectly clear.
Don't underestimate Ms. Amanpour's influence, not just on the news, but on U.S. foreign policy.
You need only ask yourself if we would be involved in Bosnia if CNN, driven by Ms. Amanpour, had not had Bosnia on the tube night after night. "Where there's a war there's Amanpour," wrote Stephen Kinzer of The NY Times Magazine, Oct 9, 1994. She certainly has the drive and an instinct for the big stories; Haiti, Rwanda, Bosnia and now Kosovo. But what happens when she gets there? In her own words, from a New York Times article regarding Peter Arnett's involvement in the discredited CNN story about U.S. forces allegedly using poison gas in Vietnam: "The bottom line is that a television correspondent's most important contract with the public. Trust and credibility are the commodities we trade in; without them we are worthless." It's only fair to ask ourselves how well Ms. Amanpour has lived up to her own standard.
The Stephen Kinzer article gives part of the answer in a quote from a longtime T.V. associate of Ms. Amanpour: "She just insisted on going there [Rwanda], and the impact of her coverage forced the other networks to follow. It was another example of her great news instincts." But this same insider has doubts about Amanpour's commitment to objective journalism. 'I have winced at some of what she's done, at what used to be called advocacy journalism,' he said. 'She was sitting in Belgrade when that marketplace massacre happened, and she went on the air to say that the Serbs had probably done it. There was no way she could have known that. She was assuming an omniscience which no journalist has. Christiane is a journalist more in the British than the American tradition, more willing to take sides on a story. And I think she has a little of that traditional British contempt for America.' " The fact that a UN classified report concluded that Bosnian Muslim forces had committed the Markale marketplace massacre seems of no consequence to Ms. Amanpour. Deutsch Presse-Agentur of June 6, 1996, wrote: "For the first time, a senior U.N. official had admitted the existence of a secret U.N. report that blames the Bosnian Moslems for the February 1994 massacre of Moslems at the Sarajevo market." Christiane Amanpour has yet to inform her viewers of this fact, but continues to allow them to believe the massacre was a Serbian atrocity which United States and NATO used as an excuse to drop over 6,000 tons of bombs on the Bosnian Serbs.
During her interview on the Charlie Rose show of 25 November 1997, Ms. Amanpour said, "an ABC journalist was killed [in Bosnia]." She omitted the fact that U.N. and military experts believe that David Kaplan, the ABC journalist, was killed by Muslims. Another big CNN story early in the Bosnian conflict was the killing, allegedly by Serb snipers of two "Muslim babies" on a bus. Who could not have been horrified by the tragic sight of the funeral service for those innocent Muslim babies? Where were Ms. Amanpour and CNN to set the record straight? If it had not been for French 2 TV that covered the funeral, this writer would never have known that the babies were Serbian (not Muslim) killed by a Muslim sniper, as was made painfully clear by the presence of a Serbian Orthodox priest conducting the funeral service. . . before it was interrupted by a grenade attack. However, in the CNN coverage the priest had been cropped out, leaving the American audience to believe that Serbs were not only the assassins, but were also responsible for the grenade attack.
Mr. Kinzer goes on to say, "Advocate or not, Amanpour has developed a style of her own. She has a strong ego, and is satisfied only when she can dominate a story, as she has in Bosnia." I guess that includes a little stage management when appropriate. According to another journalist who was with Ms. Amanpour during a visit to Kosovo, some of the journalists were taken on a orientation flight along the border between Kosovo and Albania by helicopter and were advised to wear flak jackets for the flight because of possible ground fire from Albanian positions. When the flight returned, Ms. Amanpour, wearing a flak jacket, taped her report for the CNN audience with scenes photographed from the helicopter in the background...really dramatic stuff. The only problem is, she had not accompanied her camerman on the flight. The flak jacket and the taped film of the flight were all for effect. And to think that Cokie Roberts was criticized for wearing a coat and having a picture of the apitol Building in the background when, in fact, she was being filmed in a studio.
In a full-page Washington Times ad of July 29, 1998, a Vietnam veterans group wrote, "Now that the Sarin gas fraud has been exposed -- what about Bosnia coverage by Christiane Amanpour who fed the American people a nightly diet of slanted reports and chilling images? Her biased reporting promoted the "We Must Do Something" approach that enabled President Clinton to send American GIs to Bosnia without facing the hard questions from American taxpayers and their elected representatives: What national interests justified that decision?" We could be asking the same question today: What national interests justify the decision to send GIs to Kosovo? It appears the "We Must Do Something" mentality once again prevails due to the biased anti-Serb reporting by the media.
The United States has always said that we would never negotiate with terrorists, yet the Kosovo Liberation Army with its connections to Osama bin Laden was invited to negotiate in Paris. NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, US General Wesley Clark, as has Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, met with key leaders of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the Paris region. The question should be, "Why are we negotiating with known terrorists?" In his AP commentary, "Ethnic Albanians Sensing Victory," George Jahn writes: "Life or death, bombs or peace. The outcome of the faraway talks on Kosovo seems irrelevant for many here, where ethnic Albanians are convinced they are winning their independence struggle and many Serbs sense defeat."
Take the "ouillet" out of Rambouillet, and what do you get? RAMBO! Whether as Rambo or her role model Xena, Warrior Princess, U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, in her macho cowboy hat, kowtows to KLA terrorists and threatens the Serbian people ("Yugoslavia will 'Pay a Price,' Albright Warns," The Washington Post, 8 March 1998). All the while Ms. Amanpour and Mr. Rubin sing her praises in close harmony.
Christiane Amanpour, James Rubin and Madeleine Albright. What a troika!