The London Daily Mail reported this week that “CNN caused a firestorm when it included a war monument in Brest, a city in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, in an article on the 'world's ugliest monuments' published last month.” This isn’t Ted Turner’s CNN, where a reporter would be disciplined for saying the word “foreign” in a sentence. The online article from a travel-piece contributor was intended as humor.
A Russian news commentator responded by suggesting the Marine Corps War Memorial – the Iwo Jima sculpture just north of Arlington National Cemetery – is “easy to mock” for its homoerotic look, and "you don't have to be very smart to get it." (video below):
As pictures of the monumental Brest sculpture filled the screen, Dmitry Kiselyov told viewers how the Americans had ridiculed the Soviet soldier depicted in the war memorial.
He then showed a picture of the Marine Corps War Memorial sculpture shot from behind, so that the U.S. Marines raising the flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima were bent over one another.
'It's easy to mock,' Kiselyov said with his trademark smirk. 'A fevered subconscious could ascribe just about anything to it. Take a closer look: A very modern theme, is it not?'
The CNN contributor mocked the memorial statue in Belarus by describing the look of a Soviet soldier “emerging from a mountainous block of concrete looks as if he's about to thump the West into submission before hurling North America at the sun.” It also noted that others think the soldier "simply looks constipated." Those are fighting words.
On February 6, CNN edited the story on its website and added a note apologizing for the offense it caused in Belarus and Russia. The day after the CNN story was published, the Russian Foreign Ministry took the unusual step of summoning CNN's Moscow correspondent for an official reprimand.
An online statement said “mocking the memory of Soviet soldiers who gave their lives for the victory over fascism cannot be justified or forgiven.” CNN then withdrew the article entirely. In a statement where the article used to be, it states:
CNN apologizes for the unintended offense caused by an article from a contributor that was commissioned to be a humorous look at monumental architecture worldwide. Neither the piece that was commissioned nor the edits made by CNN were consistent with our standards.
We recognize that the Courage Monument carries deep and significant symbolism in honoring the soldiers who gave their lives defending their nation.
Ted Turner sold CNN to Time Warner, and many remember how Time magazine mocked the Iwo Jima memorial on its cover in the spring of 2008, putting a tree in place of the flag to illustrate an article on "How to Win the War on Global Warming" -- under Time editor Richard Stengel, now working in President Obama's State Department.
PS: Ted Turner once lauded the Soviet Union on TV as a "great success."
PPS: Gay lobbyists have tried to appropriate this image.
[Hat tip: Dan Gainor, who found this buried in a Washingtonpost.com article.]