Friday, November 13, 2009

Putting CNN In The Shame Corner With A Dunce Cap

This morning CNN’s Ed Lavandera gave us this stunning report on “warning signs” missed in the case of Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan:
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Nidal Hasan's family describes him as a good American, but several people who knew Hasan in his years at this Maryland military university say the high-ranking Army officer expressed extremist Islamic views. One says Hasan openly pledged allegiance not to the United States but to the Quran, and when asked of the constitution was a brilliant document simply responded no, not particularly.

Our sources asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation, and the investigators wouldn't comment on the details they offered.

(The online story is here.)

Wow. I’m just stunned. This is what passes for news on CNN these days? I think it goes without saying that Nidal Hasan is public enemy number one, he opened fire on a military base and murdered a lot of innocent people. But the fact that the “most trusted name in news” is now trying to determine if the Ft. Hood shooter was a “good American” and is using his religious views as a barometer is just jaw-dropping.

I wonder how often CNN asked that question of Scott Roeder, James von Brunn or George Sodini?

Did Hasan have extremist views? Well, duh. Opening fire on a group of innocent people is by definition an extremist act. But are someone’s religious views or opinions about whether the U.S. Constitution is “brilliant” extremist? How responsible is it to report snippets of someone's "remembered" conversation--someone you won't even identify? That's the sleaziest tabloid trick of all.

For shame, CNN. For shame.

Here’s a question for CNN and Ed Lavandera. How many times have we heard conservative Christians say they put God before country? Is this extremist?

Or this?

The problem with CNN and Ed Lavandera’s piece is that it’s hearsay and gossip. We are given no context for these snippets that someone remembers Hasan saying. The where and when and why are kinda relevant here. Was he wielding a Molotov cocktail when he said his allegiance was to the Koran? Or was he professing his faith, like those Christian homeschoolers who recite their daily Pledge of Allegiance to the Bible? There's a huge difference between the two scenarios.

CNN’s piece was shockingly unprofessional. It’s an affront to religious people of all stripes: the idea that you cannot espouse a religious view without being labeled an extremist is offensive. If you can't give us context, if you can't give us more information, then just don't run it at all. It's worse than irrelevant, it's inflammatory. And it’s appalling.