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FTR #148 “Truth Dashed to Earth . . . .”

MP3 Side 1 [1] | Side 2 [2]

It has been said that the first casu­al­ty in war is truth. This pro­gram doc­u­ments that sad fact.

Record­ed as NATO inten­si­fied its bom­bard­ment of Yugoslavia, the broad­cast begins with for­mer CNN pro­duc­er April Oliv­er’s account of her dis­missal and offi­cial dis­cred­it­ing as a result of her work on “Oper­a­tion Tail­wind.” The lat­ter was a code-name for an alleged use of nerve gas by Amer­i­can com­man­dos dur­ing the Viet­nam War.

Alleged­ly using sarin nerve gas to kill “defec­tors” and to escape an encir­cling ene­my, the com­man­dos were serv­ing with the elite Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Group (a group deeply involved with covert oper­a­tions in South­east Asia dur­ing the war.) Despite the fact that per­son­nel alleged­ly involved in the mis­sion tes­ti­fied in detail on cam­era, CNN’s man­age­ment dis­owned the broad­cast after the pro­gram aired. Man­age­ment had been aware of the pro­gram and approved it. Ms. Oliv­er and her co-pro­duc­er had received emphat­ic approval for the pro­gram’s con­tent from, among oth­ers, a for­mer Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Ms. Oliv­er opines that CNN man­age­ment dis­owned the pro­gram and fired her and co-pro­duc­er Jack Smith because the com­pa­ny need­ed Pen­ta­gon coop­er­a­tion in order to cov­er future wars.

In addi­tion to “Tail­wind,” the pro­gram tack­les an edi­to­r­i­al dis­crep­an­cy between two edi­tions of the San Fran­cis­co Exam­in­er of 4/15/99. Iden­ti­cal in length and page posi­tion, the two sto­ries about Gulf War Syn­drome dif­fer fun­da­men­tal­ly.

The one-star edi­tion focused on the work of Drs. Garth and Nan­cy Nicol­son on the role played in GWS by an appar­ent­ly genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered micro-organ­ism known as mycoplas­ma. The mycoplas­ma stud­ied by the Drs. Nicol­son appears to have had a gene from HIV (the AIDS virus) added to it.

The four-star edi­tion of the Exam­in­er car­ried a GWS sto­ry from the same wire-ser­vice that omit­ted all men­tion of the mycoplas­ma and Dr. Garth Nicol­son.

The pro­gram con­cludes with a look at the medi­a’s pow­er to both deceive and con­crete­ly effect pol­i­cy. In the war in Bosnia, a tele­vised image of what was thought to be a Serb-run con­cen­tra­tion camp for Bosn­ian Mus­lims trig­gered inter­na­tion­al out­rage and, ulti­mate­ly mil­i­tary, polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic inter­ven­tion against the Serbs.

In fact, the pic­ture had been tak­en from inside the barbed wire (erect­ed around indus­tri­al machin­ery for secu­ri­ty pur­pos­es). The Mus­lim “inmates” were look­ing in at the cam­era — there was no con­cen­tra­tion camp! Nonethe­less, sta­tions around the world (par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Unit­ed States) ran the pic­tures as proof of Serb “atroc­i­ties” and the need for inter­na­tion­al inter­ven­tion. (Record­ed on 4/18/99.)