MSM: Graphic 9-11 Coverage Inappropriate, But Fine For CNN to Show Sniper Video?

Will someone please explain to me the MSM's standards for airing graphic footage?

At the time of 9-11 itself, the MSM apparently made a collective decision that it wouldn't show any of the graphic evidence of the horror that had been visited on thousands of our fellow citizens. No pictures of victims. No close-ups of the poor souls who chose to jump rather than being consumed by the flames. Even years later, there was somber MSM discussion, as here and here, as to whether movies like 'World Trade Center' or 'Flight 93' had come too soon.

And God forbid a GOP commercial should portray even the most fleeting image of 9-11. "Political exploitation!" screams the MSM. As if it's wrong to bring into the political debate the most pressing issue of our times.

But a hyper-realistic movie portrayal of the assassination of Pres. Bush? Why, as NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has pointed out, that wins a critics award at the Toronto Film Festival.

And terrorist footage of deadly sniper attacks on US troops? Not only did CNN decide to air it multiple times, but the decision has been supported in the MSM. Take today's column, What's really going on in Iraq, by the Boston Globe's Joan Venocchi, who writes "CNN was right to broadcast this material, even if insurgents supplied it."

But Vennochi gives away the game when the sole source she cites in support of the decision to air the sniper footage is . . . John Kerry, whom she describes as "a strong critic of President Bush's Iraq war policy." Other than having voted to authorize the war, of course. Oh, and Kerry did vote for the $87 billion before he . . . but I digress.

Kerry, writes Venocchi:

"believes Americans should see more truth, not less: 'Snipers are a reality. People being blown up is a reality.' Yet, in this war, Kerry argues, 'People see almost nothing at all. We see only the aftermath of explosions and bombs. As painful as the images of war are, it's important to understand what soldiers go through.'"

"Does footage such as the CNN sniper video help the enemy? 'I don't think you help the enemy to have the truth known," says Kerry. "This is a dirty war. . . and it's escalating day by day by day.'"

"Kerry blames the Bush administration for 'a calculated effort to hide the reality of war.' He also notes that media cutbacks in Iraq coverage also mean Americans receive fewer close-ups of war's brutality."

Then again, Kerry is probably still deeply saddened that there was no available footage to air of US troops razing Vietnamese villages "in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."

So, Ms. Vennochi and Sen. Kerry, since you're interested in Americans seeing "more truth," what about the graphic truth of 9-11? For that matter, what about the war in our American streets ? Should media offer explict coverage of the victims of the mayhem at home? Is there a consistent principle in operation here, or just a desire - to quote the good Senator - to "blame the Bush administration"?

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.