CBS Evening News Disregarding Professional Ethics in Airing Edited McCain Interview

Posted on July 25, 2008

1


Dear Friend,

Earlier this week, CBS Evening News was criticized for splicing video of an interview with Sen. John McCain that resulted in the removal of a statement in which McCain falsely asserted that the 2007 U.S. troop surge “began the Anbar Awakening.” CBS replaced the false statement with an answer McCain gave to a completely different question. (You can watch the video by clicking here.)

Tell CBS News that they need to broadcast the complete John McCain interview from the July 22 Evening News, and that they need to inform their viewers, on the air and online, about their policy on editing interviews.

Since the story came to light, CBS News has offered different excuses for its egregious disregard for journalistic ethics and professional standards. First, Politico reported on July 23 that CBS spokeswoman Jennifer Farley stated: “As all news organizations do with extended interviews, last night’s Obama and McCain interviews were edited to fit the available time and to give viewers a fair expression of the candidates’ major differences.”

After outrage continued to build and calls poured in to CBS News, The Washington Post reported on July 24 that CBS News senior vice president Paul Friedman stated, “The report was edited under extreme time constraints and one piece of tape was put in the wrong order. Fortunately, this did not in any way distort what Senator McCain was saying.”

This blatant misrepresentation of what McCain said left viewers with a distorted view of what the apparent Republican nominee for president believes about one of the most important issues facing the country. CBS’ actions are especially troubling given yesterday’s revelation that CBS also did not air another false statement McCain made during the interview, in which he said that Iraq is “the first major conflict since 9-11” — apparently disregarding the war in Afghanistan and the price paid by thousands of servicemen and women (PDF) from the U.S. and other coalition countries who have been of killed or wounded.

The press is the only profession granted special protection in the Bill of Rights. But with these rights comes the responsibility to provide accurate information to the American people so we can make informed decisions. While it is understood that editing is a valid part of the process of broadcasting an interview, CBS News has a responsibility to edit its interviews in a way that fully, fairly, and accurately reflects the speaker’s words and meaning.

Tell CBS News that they need to broadcast the complete John McCain interview from the July 22 Evening News, and that they need to inform their viewers, on the air and online, about their policy on editing interviews.

Thank you for your continued support in making this important phone call.

Erin Hofteig
Director, New Media
Media Matters for America

Advertisements
Posted in: Ethics & Morals