cj#801> CNN: RETRACTION or SELL OUT? (fwd)


Richard Moore

Dear cj,

Interesting case of "now you see it, now you don't" from CNN and Time,
wasn't it?  What's the truth?   Perhaps these letters from the producer
herself, passed on by Hank Roth of PNEWS, will shed some light.  My own gut
sense is that the style of the coverup is a telltale sign that the original
stories were probably true.  There's a kind `signature' that goes with
these coverups, as we saw with the TW800 shoot-down.


btw> Sorry for being slow to report on the Nova Scotia workshop and the
activist meetings in Boston, those reports will be coming shortly.

Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998
From: Hank Roth <•••@••.•••>
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: CNN SELL OUT!


                          RETRACTION or SELL OUT?


                        CNN CAPITULATES TO PRESSURE

     CNN has retracted their June 7th S.O.G. report. This just another
     replay of the "DARK ALLIANCE" reporting of C.I.A. trafficking in
     drugs and the pressure on the Mercury and the author, Gary Webb?
     Has CNN caved in no less so than the Mercury did with that report?

     Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting wrote:

     Former San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb has expanded upon
     his "Dark Alliance" series in a new book entitled "Dark Alliance:
     The CIA, The Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion," published
     by Seven Stories Press. Media activists might remember the "Melt
     the Media Snow Job" campaign that FAIR organized at three major
     print outlets-- The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the
     Washington Post-- to draw media attention to Webb's findings, and
     to the media's apparent unwillingness to seriously investigate
     Webb's charges.

     The producer of that CNN segment said to me they have several
     "deep" off the record sources. What happened to them? They were
     apparently reluctant to go public. So, CNN caved in.

     The producer of that report has been the target of a concerted
     effort to discredit her and CNN, no less so than Gary Webb was when
     he broke the story of C.I.A. involvement in drugs, and this now
     appears to be damage control for CNN and their way of handling it.

     [Nice try April]

     The Golem

     Here are some of the letters which were written to me by April
     Oliver in June.

     From: "Oliver, April" •••@••.•••

     Dear Golem,

     My name is April Oliver and I produced the various SOG pieces on
     CNN. A friend passed on your e-mail postings and I have read them
     with great interest.

     Currently, a fairly well orchestrated counterattack on our
     reporting is underway -- and I am afraid they have decided to make
     me the target. We tried very hard to get the facts right. And I
     spent many long months developing sources deep, deep inside to make
     this accurate. I am grateful for your supportive statements out
     there. You seem to have an accurate fix on the story...and I wonder
     if we might start a dialogue...

     fact confirmed that sleeping gas was CBU-15. A canard exists out
     there -- that sarin kills thru the skin. It does not, especially
     not at the temperatures in Laos. Many people are trying to attack
     the credibility of our reporting on that ground. But even the
     Pentagon's own expert, General Busbee, has told us that is
     incorrect. An M-17 gas mask is sufficient protection. One of the
     SOG commandos was advised to take extra atropine before they
     launched. And an Army manual I have uncovered shows that you can be
     as close as 300 meters to a sarin drop, without a mask at all, and
     not feel any effects -- if the wind is blowing the other direction.

     How did you come by your info that the victims in Tailwind lost
     conciousness immediately? I have been told that...but of course the
     "deniability" voices are very loud right now, and they are getting
     a lot of attention. Many of my fellow journalists over at the
     Pentagon are portraying me as a gullible female believing fattened
     up war stories from old men. A turf thing, I think. I can take
     it...but what I want most is to shore up the truth.

     Would the ex-SOG member you know be interested in coming forward to
     tell his story? Would you -- if we were able to protect your
     identity somehow? The Pentagon is dumping some documents this week
     to try and prove it was just a mix of CS and CN out there on that
     rice paddy. We always expected the paper trail would lead us back
     to tear gas. I have read enough after action reports and medal
     narratives to understand just how sterilized the paper trail is.

     Thanks for your interest and time. April

     [Wed, 24 Jun 1998]
     From: "Oliver, April" •••@••.•••

     we will probably do something this weekend. we have had some new
     voices come forward...this seems to be more widespread than we
     realize. but we are facing a huge disinformation campaign, full of
     ugly vicious personal attacks on me. ...i have never experienced
     anything quite like it. Nothing like going up against professionals
     at plausible deniability, and shooting down the messenger.

     Again the one drop on the skin stuff is bogus. GB kills by
     breathing it, not by touching it. Mustard is a blister
     agent....thanks for your help. you are a bright spot in a tough
     internet world. APril

     Gary Webb said he stood by his report and was fired. April Oliver,
     who was previously with "McNeil-Lehrer" for four years stood by her
     report and was fired for it. If the report is unfavorable to the
     capitalists they kill the messenger.

     * ``I'm trying to handle this with dignity, but it's not pretty to
       watch yourself pummeled in the press,'' she said. ``I don't think
       anyone thinks I'm an Attila the Hun-type producer. That's a
       deliberate attempt to mischaracterize me and kill the
     * The story proved a major embarrassment to CNN/USA President
       Richard Kaplan, who joined CNN last August from ABC. Launching a
       series of newsmagazines called ``NewsStand'' was his top
       programming initiative, and he used the nerve gas story to
       attract attention to the series' premiere.[AP]
     * The two main producers of the report were fired following a
       CNN-requested investigation by a prominent media attorney. In
       addition, a senior producer resigned.[David Bauder/AP]
     * ``That doesn't necessarily mean that the story isn't true,''
       Abrams [CNN's lawyer] said in an interview on CNN. ``But what it
       does mean then is that at this moment we simply do not have
       enough evidence, in my view, for any conclusion to be reached -
       that the presidents have been lying to us for all these years and
       that what we've been told was just a pack of lies.'' [AP]
     * April Oliver and Jack Smith, the story's top producers, told The
       Associated Press they were fired. Pam Hill, senior producer for
       ``NewsStand,'' resigned. [AP]
     * Ms. Oliver and Smith said they still believed the story was
       accurate, and they were disheartened by the lack of support from
       CNN. [David Bauder/AP]
     * ``These shadow warriors don't like us looking into their business
       and their dark spaces,'' Ms. Oliver said of the military special
       forces. ``They're doing their best to make sure that no one else
       does. I'm not a single-minded, one point-of-view producer. Check
       with anyone, and you'll find that's inaccurate. It's part of
       killing the messenger.'' [David Bauder/AP]
     * Said Smith: ``We presented the facts that we gathered. Let the
       people judge. This was a report on America's secret army. There
       is no documentation.'' [David Bauder/AP]

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