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CBS Defends Airing Parts of Pearl Videotape

Media: The network says it wanted to show the terrorists' 'gruesome' propaganda. The slain reporter's family calls the decision 'heartless.'


NEW YORK -- CBS News on Wednesday defended its decision to air a brief excerpt of a videotape made by captors of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, despite criticism from Pearl's family, who called the move "heartless" and said they "had hoped that no part of this tape would ever see the light of day."

The Tuesday night broadcast on "CBS Evening News" became a hot topic for talk-radio hosts, and CBS said it received "several dozen" complaints from viewers, along with a lesser number of messages of support.

CBS aired the video excerpts as part of a report on what CBS anchor Dan Rather called a "gruesome piece of propaganda" that is circulating on the Internet and being used by terrorists as a recruitment tool. The recruiting video includes more scenes from the Pearl tape than CBS chose to show. CBS said it didn't air the video's most graphic scenes for "reasons of decency and out of respect for Mr. Pearl's family."

The CBS report showed Pearl, under duress, saying he was Jewish.

Pearl disappeared in January in Pakistan while reporting. His death was confirmed in a February videotape.

Pearl's parents and sisters and his widow, Mariane, said in a statement after the broadcast, "While Dan Rather attempts to rationalize the network's heartless decision to air this despicable 'terrorist propaganda video,' it is beyond our comprehension that any mother, wife, father or sister should have to relive this horrific tragedy and watch their loved one being repeatedly terrorized."

The Journal said in a statement that it "made it clear yesterday to CBS that we believed no good purpose would be served by showing any part of this video. That remains our view."

CBS was also asked by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's office and Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's office not to air the video.

Jim Murphy, executive producer of "CBS Evening News," said he understands "the family's point of view because the family is bound to feel the way they feel." But he said he didn't understand the criticism from others, noting that the broadcast was simply "reporting important stories responsibly."

Murphy said some critics were under the mistaken impression that CBS had aired the more graphic pictures. He said the video excerpts were aired only after extensive debate and about a dozen rewritings of the script. The producers concluded that they needed to show the excerpts because it would be "more powerful than words alone," he said.

"We believe it's important for Americans to see it and to understand the full impact and danger of the vicious propaganda being spread against the United States and about Americans," Rather said in the broadcast.

Pearl's family asked other news organizations not to follow CBS' lead, saying, "Terrorists have made this video confident that the American media would broadcast it and thereby serve their exact purpose."

NBC said it had no plans to do so beyond showing pictures from the video, without sound, in a brief report about the controversy on Wednesday's "Today" show.

NBC declined to comment on CBS' decision but noted, "The fact that [the Pearl video] was being used as a propaganda tool is newsworthy."

Other TV news organizations said they weren't planning to air excerpts.

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at

-- (cin@cin.cin), May 17, 2002


Self-centered, materialistic bastards

-- (cin@cin.cin), May 17, 2002.

Ooooh, that time of the month again cin?? Oh, that's right, you're a bitch every day!

-- lol (here cum @ da. bitch!), May 17, 2002.

Dan is desperate. No one watches his BS anymore. He is sooooooooo "yesterday". Even his new haircut didn't help. Don't go on "Survivor" Dan; they'd vote you off in the first week.

-- (Dan, lost @ sea.sinking), May 17, 2002.

You're not scared of a little pms are ya? Coward

-- (cin@cin.cin), May 17, 2002.

Scared? LOL, hardly! I laugh at your condition of terminal bitchiness. You're obviously not getting any so you take your frustrations out on men. LMAO.

-- (you're@sexually.frustrated), May 17, 2002.

Last month you said I was a slut, and now I'm not getting any? Poor me {major eye roll}

-- (cin@cin.cin), May 17, 2002.

So, you’re a ‘frustrated slut’.

-- Haw (haw@haw.haw), May 17, 2002.

Doc the hawk

Take your medication

-- (hawk@the.doc), May 17, 2002.

When all the shoutin's over, cin's right about CBS and their aging boytoy.

-- Carlos (, May 18, 2002.

Alec Baldwin would be a perfect replacement for Mr. Rather.

-- dr. pibb (drpibb@new.formula), May 18, 2002.

LOL, as usual the Fascist Repugs are trying to censor reality! There are a lot of people who want to see this video because it is important to see what really happened without it being doctored or distorted by the words of the media. Reality is something we should face, not run away from. Now we have cin and her fellow Pugs whimpering like liberals that is too "mean and cruel" (sob-sob, sniff-sniff) to show what these bastards did to Pearl. They don't want anyone to see him getting his throat cut because it's "too insensitive" (boo-hoo-hoo), and his poor family might sob and whimper, even though no one is forcing them to watch it. LOL, you Pugs crack me up, so hypocritical!

-- LMAO (sorryass@pug.losers), May 18, 2002.

Can someone get a tape of the Saudis lopping heads? LMAO needs a copy for her library.

-- Carlos (, May 19, 2002.

This is much more than just a tape of Saudis lopping heads, dumbass. Several comments were made in reference to Pearl being a Jew and it was also used to send a message to Americans. I doubt that the Fascist Dumbya and Ashcroft will ever allow the people to see it without editing or corrupting it to suit their agenda, but it is important for our people to be able to see it in its original uncensored form. If it's too "politically incorrect" for those of you who prefer to wear blinders then don't watch it, no one is forcing you dimwit.

-- (Repugs@hypocritical.censors), May 19, 2002.

Make that two copies.

-- Carlos (, May 19, 2002.

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