Wednesday, April 13, 2005

CBS Cameraman

While this topic generated a lot of heat for a couple of days, I am surprised to see that it is losing its momentum. Why am I upset? First, it seems highly likely that a US firm had a paid employee, that knew beforehand of attacks on US servicemen, and not only did he not warn US authorities, but he filmed the events, likely providing material for the evening news that is ultimately a commercial endeavor. Two, a subject search, done about five ways, but centering around "CBS+cameraman+arrested+Iraq", on CBS's own web sight turns up no story past April 8th. They do have a nice video by Bob Schieffer, with a couple of correspondents on it , where Bob tells the viewer that this is a serious matter...but no follow-up by CBS...not unexpected, but way too early to bury the story. Three, this also seems to be losing momentum in the blogosphere. Lastly, the moral discussion on this type of behavior needs to continue.

Until CBS is aired in France as a matter of routine, they are an American entity. If they want the protection of the American Constitution, they should help protect the servicemen that protect their rights. I believe they could still keep their objectivity ( I am trying not to laugh), and report other aspects of the military good and bad, but they don't need to protect this "objectivity" with the lives of our servicemen. The idea that a news agency would sacrifice the lives of those who protect their freedoms simply to get a film on the news is reprehensible. Simply appalling.

CBS is obligated to run this story to ground. This requires a full disclosure of all of this cameraman's filed pieces, a full disclosure on his employment history, a full accounting of his participation on the events captured on his camera, and an investigation of what this cameraman's producer knew about the origins of his videos and how they were subsequently used. This is CBS's responsibility. They, of course, will abdicate, but this will just be another nail in their coffin, and another tread downward on the stairway to oblivion. Nonetheless, they have a responsibility to get this information out.

Three, the bloggers that have the wherewithal, and time to continue to push this, need to push. This story, and our troops deserve an accounting of this behavior. Are other networks doing the same? Why has the MSM closed ranks? Are they going to get away with letting this die? I can't put the time to this story that it is due, but those that can, should.

Aside from this reprehensible incident, we need to continue the discussion about the morality of the press in cases such as this. Jay Rosen's http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2005/03/01/svd_kpln.html piece in March drew a lot of comments...mine being some of them, but this discussion is not finished. By completing a rigorous discussion on the morality of this type of behavior, we may be able to get the press to accept certain moral limitations that they will observe in gathering the "news." What they have done here is tantamount to conspiracy to have a murder committed so that they could then cover it as "news." Sorry they're culpable.

Let's keep pushing on this...

My previous comments on Jay's previous question.

What I find interesting about Jay's piece is that the reporter in his example could ever feign moral confusion about what had transpired. He crossed the line into the immoral when he sought to observe and report on events he knew would result in immoral acts. At that point he becomes culpable, whether he is enticed to participate, or merely observes even a single murder. The reporter knew what would transpire when he agreed to go along, whether he was consulted in the process or not...at that point he CHOSE to observe murder, and reporting on such acts may, indeed, result in the paying audience tagging the reporter and his company as immoral. They may choose not to, but at what point would the casual observer call it immoral...as the reporter continued to observe killings night after night? Would the threshold be two murders, three, fifteen? I suggest the threshold is the single event, although others may have a higher tolerance for this type of gruesome grab for market share than I do.
Make no mistake, in my previous profession; I killed people, perhaps hundreds over the dozens of missions that I flew. The killing was done to achieve, what in my mind was a just goal, freeing Kuwait, but my participation was not designed specifically to boost readership and sales. Therein lies the difference (in my mind anyway), which allows me to sleep with a clear conscience... I can re-play my missions and not feel guilt. If I were the reporter in the example, there is no way I could free myself from the guilt I would feel.
My advice is keep a moral compass of some kind (not preaching here), or you may find yourself in the downward spiral towards the abyss, caused by the mind bending, and potentially crippling, exercise of wrestling with the philosophical elements of guilt, culpability, and morality. Playing with fire often results in burns.

4 comments:

Sisyphus said...

Major Mike Wants Answers

devildog6771 said...

If they report for the enemy, then as far as I am concerned they too become the enemy. They can't cover the news on our side of the war accurately, why the heck are they going to the other side to gets stories. Wait..I just got ti.. the other side is full of lies and inuendos..That reporter must have felt at home over there!

louielouie said...

does life immitate art or the other way.
i don't know why you military types have not brought up the war in KOSAN (not a typo).
a brief excerpt below.

But while Jennings and his crew were traveling with a North Kosanese unit, to visit the site of an alleged atrocity by U.S. and South Kosanese troops, they unexpectedly crossed the trail of a small group of American and South Kosanese soldiers. With Jennings in their midst the Northern soldiers set up an ambush that would let them gun down the Americans and Southerners.

What would Jennings do? Would he tell his cameramen to "Roll tape!" as the North Kosanese opened fire? What would go through his mind as he watched the North Kosanese prepare to fire?

Jennings sat silent for about fifteen seconds. "Well, I guess I wouldn't," he finally said. "I am going to tell you now what I am feeling, rather than the hypothesis I drew for myself. If I were with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think that I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans."

Even if it meant losing the story? Ogletree asked.

Even though it would almost certainly mean losing my life, Jennings replied. "But I do not think that I could bring myself to participate in that act. That's purely personal, and other reporters might have a different reaction."

Ogletree turned for reaction to Mike Wallace, who immediately replied. "I think some other reporters would have a different reaction," he said, obviously referring to himself. "They would regard it simply as another story they were there to cover." A moment later Wallace said, "I am astonished, really." He turned toward Jennings and began to lecture him: "You're a reporter. Granted you're an American" (at least for purposes of the fictional example; Jennings has actually retained Canadian citizenship). "I'm a little bit at a loss to understand why, because you're an American, you would not have covered that story."

Ogletree pushed Wallace. Didn't Jennings have some higher duty to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot?

"No," Wallace said flatly and immediately. "You don't have a higher duty. No. No. You're a reporter!"


mike wallace w/ see-bs, an ambush of americans.....what a kawinkydink.

the whole story is at:

http://www.11thcavnam.com/main/mike_wallce.htm

Watch 'n Wait said...

Please keep in mind, gentlemen, that with telephoto lens, the photog can be one hell of a distance away...so far in fact, that it seems as though he's right in the middle of the action. He can see and photo it, but be completely unable to do anything about what he's seeing. He can only document on film.

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