CNN on ambassador’s diary: ‘This was not broadcasting gossip’

The Huffington Post | The Huffington Post
Anderson Cooper defended CNN’s handling of J. Christopher Stevens’ diary, which a State Department spokesperson called “disgusting” after the cable network used the diary in its reporting. On his program Monday night, Cooper said:

This was not broadcasting gossip from the pages of someone’s diary. This was not reporting salacious details of someone’s private life. This was reporting information that could impact the national security of the United States and the safety of U.S. installations in other countries.

Michael Calderone talks with other journalists who toured the gutted U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where CNN correspondent Arwa Damon found the diary. Alice Fordham toured the compound on Sept. 13:

“When we arrived in the morning, we were let in, and shown around by the man we had met the previous night, who wandered off from time to time to speak to several other journalists who came in,” Fordham wrote. “We had total freedom of movement and could easily have picked up various business cards, books, keys, ties etc that were lying around. As I recall, this chap said that Libyan police had come to examine the scene but no Americans at the time. I’m not at all surprised it was possible to find a personal journal. I didn’t remove anything myself, but there was nothing preventing me from doing so.”

Related: Claire Atkinson reports on CNN’s search for a chief amid declining ratings and other challenges. “We need our Roger Ailes,” one source tells Atkinson.

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  • Harry Farquard

    I agree with everything Anderson said about Ambassador
    Steven’s diary. I worked with military intelligence and the Ambassador’s abandon
    diary is intelligence information that the state department chose to leave
    unguarded for days. Claims that CNN should have left it be are absurd. Would the state department have preferred the
    Taliban retrieved the diary instead of CNN? While I sympathize with the
    Ambassador’s father, he too should be grateful for two reasons: 1. had the
    state department retrieved the diary, he either would have never seen it, or he
    would have received a redacted copy; and 2. CNN’s dissemination of his son’s
    thoughts may very well prevent another father from experiencing the anguish Mr.
    Stevens is experiencing.

  • Joanna Drake Mahan

    Without CNN breaking this information, the White House and this administration would still be pulling the wood over everyone’s eyes. It’s about time that CNN and other networks get their heads out of the sand and report the news, ALL OF THE NEWS, for the viewers. I’m just not understanding why they are letting it die down. CNN, you did a good thing here, bringing this to the forefront. DON’T STOP NOW!

  • Anonymous

    Here is where CNN goes tragically and professional WRONG. When they allow Anderson Cooper to joke on the Ridiculist with Isha Sesay and other jokey anchors, even KRisti Lu Stout in HK, CNN lowers its journalistic integrity. How can Cooper on one hand be taken seriously as a CNN reporter and at the same time joke around on set like entertainment show? This is what is dragging CNN down. can you imagine Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings doing Ridiculist lists on their news shows? EIther CNN keeps the news side separate from the entertainemnt side, or all is lost. I am fed up with this, for one. How can i take Coopers’ statement about Libya seriouslu when he goes on air and jokes about pink playhouses with air quote grins? It’s UNprofessional and demeaning of the news profession.

  • Forrest Carr

    Think what you will about what CNN did. But the network deserves applause for being willing to explain its coverage decision to its viewers in such detail. Such self-accountability is all too rare among mainstream media.
    –Forrest Carr