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Richard Bradley Headshot

CNN: Truly Pathetic

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I just watched 30 minutes of CNN's non-stop coverage of the man shot and killed by a U.S. marshal on the walkway between an American Airlines plane and a terminal at Miami airport. And having done so, I've come to the conclusion that it's getting tough to take CNN seriously as a news organization.

For most of that half hour, the announcers (who weren't shown) debated the possibility that the man was either a terrorist or, because the plane was coming from Medellin, Colombia, involved with drug-running. An alleged expert on national security started blabbing about Colombian gangs, and speculated that maybe the air marshalls were watching him all along, just waiting for him to make a move. Uh-huh.

Eventually it was announced that the guy had nothing threatening in the bag he was carrying, so the CNN folks concluded that he was probably of "altered mental status." But then, who wouldn't be, given the nature of air travel these days?

Not once did the announcers bring up the name of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian who was murdered by English police on the subway with absolutely no provocation. That would have been a reasonable reference at least to raise, under the circumstances—even if only to say how difficult snap judgments are.

According to CNN, the man claimed to have a bomb in his bag, and didn't respond to warnings from one or more air marshals. Not once did the announcers even ask whether this man spoke English, or whether the air marshalls spoke Spanish.

Not once did anyone from CNN ask why the guy wasn't Tasered, rather than shot.

Not once, in other words, did the announcers even consider that the shooting might have been a mistake, or that the passenger's death might have been unnecessary.

Usually when police shoot an unarmed man to death, reporters react with some skepticism. What's going on here, I think, is that CNN has become so terrified of ceding the mantle of jingoism to Fox, it dares not question any action taken in the name of homeland security.

Either that, or CNN's talking heads are just dumb.

It's certainly possible that the dead man was a bad guy with evil intentions, or that air marshals responded appropriately under the circumstances (which are, at the moment, as uncertain as they were in the case of Menezes—remember those early reports that had him ignoring police warnings?) We'll find out soon enough.

All I'm asking is that the TV news channel which claims to be the most authoritative news organization on television do its job, rather than simply parroting everything the government tells it.