To cover or not to cover truth: The legacy of Geoffrey Dawson

Memo

To: Jonathan Klein

President, CNN

Subject: Coverage of Iran

Congratulations on the approach of your fifth anniversary at the helm of CNN/US. What a great moment during which to exercise leadership with one of the world’s most important media platforms.

It may be “the most busted name in news” in the eyes of many, but the reach of CNN’s programming is still vast. It remains the default network for center-left elites who cannot abide the buffoonery that MSNBC has sunk to, and even those of us who watch Fox News with great regularity are still checking in on Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and a few others.

There’s lots to criticize, of course, with the refrains from the center-right as familiar to you as the chorus of “American Pie.” (Please, no more fringe extremists held up as “representing” conservatism generally or Tea Party activists specifically.) While fixing these flaws would increase your audience and your credibility on many issues, they are small points compared to the looming world crisis. What really matters right now is that CNN get the Iran story right, and that you not become the Geoffrey Dawson of the new millennium.

You no doubt know of Dawson and his shameful record of abetting the appeasement of Neville Chamberlain throughout the 1930s from his post as editor of The Times, in its day the most powerful news platform in the world. At every turn, Dawson supported and encouraged the British leadership that refused to confront Adolf Hitler.

The question now is whether the mainstream media, and specifically CNN, are going to revive Dawson’s role on the world stage or work to avoid another disastrous abdication of the media’s job to report the world as it is, not as the left — and, more specifically, the forces of appeasement — would like it to be.

With Friday’s revelations about Iran’s second uranium-processing facility, it becomes impossible to mistake the ambitions and agenda of the radical mullahs atop Iran.

The time has come when the West has to decide whether to stop Iran — using military force if necessary. The time for even serious sanctions like a gasoline embargo to become effective has all but vanished in the past year.

Appeasement-supporting media will spend the next few months ignoring the crisis or telling us that Iran can be managed and that the Obama administration has a plan. Then, when Israel has to act to prevent the fanatics from deploying their new capability to bring about their other dream of destroying the country, the appeasement media will blame Israel.

Or, CNN could lead the way to serious sustained coverage of the menace that an Iranian nuke poses, and the options — including military force — that remain.

There isn’t a bigger story or a more important one. Good luck in getting it right this time. Your choice is very likely to be the only thing you will ever be remembered for.

Examiner columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host who blogs daily at www.HughHewitt.com.

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