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I have been offline for most of the past 24 hours, but am now getting up to speed on developments in the story Drudge ran yesterday about CNN reporter Michael Ware. I apologize for being tardy, but I have been busy with Mommy duties today and most of the evening.
Raw Story’s got two videos of the presser, one of the introductory remarks and another of the Q&A. Ware is visible in the right foreground, in the white shirt, in the second video when the camera cuts to a shot of the full room. Assuming RS hasn’t played games with the clip, I don’t see anything that looks like heckling or laughing. McCain and Graham are unperturbed and there are no interruptions. The second clip does cut out immediately after the press conference ends, with Ware still sitting in his seat and trying to ask a question, so it’s possible he did something then. But in that case, Drudge’s report is still wrong — he said the heckling happened “during” the presser, while McCain and Graham were speaking.
Paul at Powerline has the following to say about what Ware said in an interview with Soledad O’Brien last night.
As Scott notes in his post below, CNN’s Michael Ware has denied heckling Sen. McCain during a press conference (he doesn’t say whether or not he laughed at McCain). However, Ware’s appearance with Soledad O’Brien, as quoted by Scott, is enough to condemn him as unfit to cover the war. Here’s what Ware had to say about McCain and other Republicans who are visiting Baghdad:
Essentially they’re here to view the impact of the surge on the baghdad security plan and essentially to sell its merits to say that, yes, it is having an impact and to take that message home to an american people desperate to hear signs of progress…
Ware thus accuses John McCain — American hero, frequent critic of the administration, and frequent critic of the administration’s handling of the war — of bad faith and intellectual dishonesty.
By any objective measure, the surge has had a positive effect on Baghdad. Civilian casualties are down sharply since January; execution style deaths are half of what they were; and other killings have declined by almost the same factor. But even in the absence of such statistics, there would be no defense for Ware’s accusations of bad faith on the part of Senator McCain and others. Ware’s reporting itself constitutes heckling.
When a reporter becomes this much of an advocate, he should no longer cover the story. If CNN were a credible news organization, it would reassign Ware.
It would be interesting to find out who Drudge’s source was. Did someone see Ware making fun of the Senators after the press conference? If so, the report was still wrong because it said it was during the conference. Did someone make the whole thing up and think no one else would know? There were plenty of people at the press conference to refute it if there was no truth to it.
Most of all though, I wonder why Ware’s previous comments, the ones reported by Hot Air and others a week ago, did not get more attention. I first saw them when searching for reaction to the Drudge story. When I posted the link to and quote from the Drudge story last night, I almost titled the post “CNN Reporter Admits to Reporting Drunk from Iraq.” That was the focus in the first draft of the post because it was my first time hearing the quote and it made me angry that our soldiers and Marines seem to be able to fight the war sober, yet Ware joked that he had to get drunk to be able to stand to be in Baghdad reporting. After reading some commentary on the Drudge story I focused more on the heckling because that is what the buzz was about, but I did include one reference to Ware’s “drunk” comment. Even without the heckling, I thought it was outrageous that a supposedly objective reporter would say such things about a story he was assigned to cover. Then I found out that Ware was the reporter who brought us the Iraqi sniper video. That ended any speculation about his objectivity.
I don’t expect reporters to remain completely objective. They are human and have opinions and emotions and I realize they can’t always check those at the door. I ask that they just be up front about their bias. What I find most objectionable are reporters that claim to be objective when they clearly aren’t. Ware at least does not seem to fit that category. When a reporter crosses the line into advocacy, rather than reporting, as it appears Ware has, then it is up to the network, or the publication, to put someone else on the story who can report it in a somewhat objective manner.
From the comments that Ware has been making in interviews, and some of the activity Ware has described, it is obvious that he is far from objective. In fact, Ware admits as much. In this largely favorable, and very interesting, piece on Ware at Winds of Change last year, the strategy Ware employed of developing relationships with the terrorists is examined. This piece was written prior to CNN airing the Iraqi sniper video, which aired last October. Read it and the other items linked.
I guess my big problem with the bias is that it always swings in one direction. If I didn’t read milblogs, I would just assume that was because there was only one kind of news coming out of Iraq and it was bad news. Thanks to the milblogs and new media, however, I know that is not the case.
I want to know why CNN seems to think it is okay for reporters to be biased in favor of the enemy, but not okay for them to show bias in favor of the U.S. military? I am also still waiting to find out why CNN seemed to think it was okay for them to report from their Baghdad bureau with not only a bias in favor of the Saddam regime, but failing to report abuses perpetrated by the regime of which they had first hand knowledge. I can’t help but think of that case (admitted by Eason Jordan) when I see CNN reporting from Iraq. So far, I have not seen any reason to trust them any more now than then.
Update (3:57 p.m.): I join Glenn Reynolds and Scott Johnson in asking what Matt Drudge has to say. As of this update Drudge has yet to issue any type of explanation or retraction for the inaccurate story posted Sunday evening at The Drudge Report.
Update II (7:09 p.m.): As far as I can tell, Drudge has not posted anything additional on his “heckling” story, but Glenn Reynolds and Power Line link to this AFP report that says “one reporter giggled at the back” in response to one of McCain’s statements. From Scott at Power Line:
I don’t know if giggles equal laughter and mockery, or if Ware was the giggler. But it seems to me that the AFP story provides evidence that tends to support Drudge’s account. According to the Raw Story report and accompanying screen capture, Ware was sitting “in front of the camera,” i.e., “at the back.”
So, maybe the “giggler” wasn’t Ware, but another reporter. Or maybe Ware giggled, but it wasn’t captured on camera and in his mind giggling is not the same as laughing and mocking. Unless the AFP story is wrong, there was at least one reporter in the room giggling in response to McCain’s comments. Giggling during McCain’s press conference, joking on Bill Maher’s show about having to get drunk to report from Baghdad — whoever the reporter was, it sounds more like a middle school kid than someone taking their job seriously.
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