CNN found a diary that reportedly belonged to Libya’s US Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and are now facing trouble with the State Department after choosing to report on it.
CNN reported yesterday that it had found a seven-page diary in “the largely unsecured” US consulate in Benghazi. The media network then tacked down the Stevens’ family “within hours” to report their finding, ultimately turning it over to them through an intermediary. CNN also pledged to Stevens’ family that they wouldn’t report on the writings.
Except, that’s exactly what they did, reporting that the short tome reveals that Stevens feared an attack from Al Qaeda. They try to simultaneously create a loophole and wiggle through it before hanging themselves by claiming that they merely took “newsworthy tips” from the diary, and that what they reported on was confirmed by other sources. One such source, unidentified, but “familiar with Stevens’ thinking,” told CNN that the ambassador was concerned about security threats in Benghazi and a “rise in Islamic extremism.”
The State Department responded with a blistering statement, calling CNN’s invasion of a dead man’s privacy “indefensible,” reports the AP.
CNN punched back, saying that they “did not initially report on the existence of a journal out of respect for the family, but we felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting, which we did,” further criticizing the State Department for “attacking the messenger” over “questions about why (it) didn’t do more to protect Ambassador Stevens.”
This caused Hillary Clinton to speak on the matter, asking rhetorically, “Whose first instinct is to remove from a crime scene the diary of a man killed serving our country, read it, transcribe it, email it around your newsroom, and only when their curiosity is fully satisfied thinks to call the family or notify the authorities?”
Who is right? CNN and journalistic integrity? Or the State Department and good old fashioned propriety?