"Kicking butt" at CNN?

The cable network's new chief says his reporters are "rollicking, aggressive pursuers of facts." Where have they been on the Downing Street memo?

Published June 10, 2005 3:08PM (EDT)

In an interview timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of CNN, CNN chief Jon Klein has high praise for . . . CNN.

"We're rollicking, aggressive pursuers of facts," Klein tells MarketWatch.com. "No one else does that. Plenty of people talk about that. We're the only ones who go out and report the news. Our editorial chops are alive and well. We're kicking butt every day. The American people want serious news -- and they're not getting enough of it from cable."

Not to be rude, but does Klein actually watch CNN? Just off the top of our heads, we're thinking about the release of a certain memo from Downing Street that handed reporters, on a silver platter, an intriguing story about how Bush administration officials had decided to invade Iraq long before the bombs started dropping and were more concerned about justifying a war than preventing one.

For a solid month, CNN effectively boycotted the story. And even this week, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived at the White House and was asked about the telling memo, CNN continued with its allergic reaction to the story. Since the memo was leaked on May 1, CNN has broadcast approximately 984 hours of news, during which time the Downing memo was mentioned 13 times.

By contrast, when word got out that a young American woman vacationing in Aruba had gone missing, it was all hands on deck at CNN, which in just the last seven days has reported on the story more than 110 times.

So much for "kicking butt every day."

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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