Fox News has launched a smear campaign on CNN’s patriotism by reporting that CNN crews were used a human shields and prevented a British attack on Gadhafi’s compound in Libya. CNN denies the story, but this hasn’t stopped Fox News from running an attack on their breaking news competition at CNN.
Here is the Fox News report:
Fox News Pentagon correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported, “We have learned that the British fighter jets actually had seven missiles. They were in fact going to be fired from tornado fighter planes onto that compound, but the mission had to be cut short because of the presence of CNN television crews and Reuters journalists on the ground who had been taken to the site by the Libyan Ministry of Information, so the British generals in charge of the operation and flying those tornado planes called off the operation to fire those seven missiles that were supposed to be fired at Gadhafi’ s compound at what’s being described as a command and control center to us because of the presence of CNN crews, Reuters crews, as well some civilians that had been brought essentially has human shields by the Minister of Information to that compound, Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli.”
Anchor Jon Scott asked if the media was brought in after the first two cruise missiles struck and Griffin answered, “After those Tomahawks landed the Libyan Ministry of Information went to the hotel where most of the journalists were staying they asked journalists to come and see the damage. From their point of view this was a propaganda opportunity to show that Gadhafi himself was being targeted because his compound had being targeted. Some news crews decided to go; others including our Steve Harrigan did not go to the compound. They were concerned that they could be used as human shields and what we are now learning is that British defense forces had to call off tornado fighter planes that were loaded with seven missiles that were destined for that compound.
However, according to TVnewser, a CNN spokesperson shot down the Fox report that CNN journalists at the Gadhafi compound were used as human shields to limit a British attack, “CNN along with dozens of other journalists (a coach load) were taken on a visit by Libyan press minders to the compound. The press stayed there for approximately 30 minutes before they were taken back to the hotel.”
One of the other journalistic crews that went to the compound that Fox News didn’t bother to mention was the News Corp owned Times of London, but that doesn’t very well fit into the Fox News narrative that the dirty liberal CNN acted as willing human shields for an enemy of America. The FNC point being that if Gadhafi stays in power it could very well be because of those five British Tomahawk missiles that did not get fired on his compound. This was a very clever way for Fox News to question the patriotism and journalistic integrity of CNN.
The reason for this FNC attack on CNN is simple. CNN is the third place cable news network, until breaking news occurs. CNN is still the destination in many viewers’ minds for breaking news coverage. CNN still has more international resources than any other cable network, and the only time their ratings skyrocket is when there is a breaking news story out there. After the Japan earthquake CNN’s ratings more than doubled.
Breaking news coverage is the one area of the market that Fox News does not lead, so it is not a surprise that they would use the coalition efforts in Libya to smear CNN.