A letter to CNN President Richard Kaplan

by Glynn Ash SlainteMhath@webtv.net

Mr. Kaplan,

A recent report on CNN by political "analyst" William Schneider has mystified me.

On April 7, Mr. Schneider, apparently lamenting the lack of criticism from the left regarding America's recent illegal military action against the the forces of Serbia, offered the following "analysis":

"What's missing from the Kosovo story is anti-war protest, at least on the left." saying that there was "no action out there on the streets or on campuses -- no marches, no demonstrations, no teach-ins."

Mr. Schneider claims that dissent from the left boils down to criticizing Clinton, "not for what he's trying to do, but for the way he's doing it...The peace movement is leading the war. And for liberals who oppose the war, they don't have any Pat Buchanan to speak for them."

The question CNN seems to be asking it's viewers...why is criticism from the left so wanting?

The question I ask to CNN, why is your "coverage" of said dissent so wanting.

Being just an simple guy (seemingly, at least, from CNN's perspective) I lack the vast resources that are available to a "news" outlet, such as yours. All I have is a few newspapers and my little 'ol webtv unit.

And yet, in the Chicago area alone, I was able to find the following information regarding the mysterious and elusive "action out there on the streets," that Mr. Schneider seems to find so hard to uncover, so I include them here for his, and your, edification:

Recent actions:

Carbondale, Illinois Friday, March 26, from 4:30 to 5:30 PM: IT'S MOURNING IN AMERICA The Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois/Fellowship of Reconciliation opposes the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia which began yesterday. We call for an end to the bombing of Kosovo and Iraq. To express our opposition to the horrors now by perpetrated by our country against the peoples of Iraq and Yugoslavia, the Peace Coalition will hold a silent vigil: MOURNING THE END OF PEACE TOWN CENTRAL PAVILION. For more information, call 549-1409

Chicago --> Good Friday (April 2, 1999)at 1:00 P.M. : TO ALL ORTHODOX CLERGY AND FAITHFUL IN THE MIDWEST, IN USA AND CANADA, AND THROUGHOUT THE WORLD The Serbian Orthodox Church will hold a prayer vigil on Western Good Friday (April 2, 1999), at the DALEY CENTER in Chicago at 1:00 P.M. All Serbian and other Orthodox Christians are encouraged to attend. Please bring CROSSES and ICONS. Please DO NOT bring political signs and slogans. Our message will be "THE SERBIAN PEOPLE AND NATION ON THE CROSS". This will be held in conjuction with Prayer Vigils throughout the world to be sponsored by Serbian Orthodox Christians on Western Good Friday. All local clergy and faithful are requested to organize and participate in the Prayer Vigils within their respective communities and to invite other Orthodox and other Christian friends. +CHRISTOPHER Metropolitan of Midwestern America

Chicago: Wednesday, March 31, at 8PM: There is a protest demonstration to be held in Chicago in front of the Daley Center (downtown). Participants are asked to bring candles. (from Serbian Unity Congress website www.suc.org ) Keep up the struggle! mezha@earthlink.net

Chicago, Illinois March 26. Time: 1 p.m. Place: Daley Center Plaza, Washington and Dearborn Sts. (312) 346-3278. It is being coordinated with the help of the Orthodox Churches in the Chicago area. adastra@earthlink.net

Chicago: Sat, March 27.Details to be announced

Urbana-Champaign Today April 02.1999, we had first in series of protests against war in yugoslavia on central campus park (quad) at university of illinois at Urbana-Champaign. it lasted 11am-2.30pm, with main part 12noon-1pm. there were cca.120 people present. protest was organized by serbian and hellenic student organizations. lukic@uiuc.edu , tziligak@uiuc.edu.

Urbana-Champaign Tuesday, April 6,1999, 11am-2.30pm, with main part 12noon-1pm: central quad, University of Illinois., program with several speeches and various informative/awareness activities. organizers: Serbian and Hellenic student organizations. contact: lukic@uiuc.edu , tziligak@uiuc.edu.

I won't, however, reveal to you my "reliable source" for these events...your going to have to do SOME work if your truly interested in covering this "angle".

I found that this information was so easy to find, that I was even able to attend the March 26 event at Daley Center Plaza.

CNN was conspicuious in it's abscence...maybe I just didn't see you.

And what do ya know...I even know about future events:

Champaign, Illinois--> Friday April 9, 1999: information: 11am-2pm. Protest: 12noon-1pm. PROTEST! For peace and against NATO war in Yugoslavia. University of Illinois Quad, Urbana Hellenic Student Serbian-American Student Organization.Vladimir Lukic, lukic@uiuc.edu Yannis Tziligakis, tziligak@uiuc.edu ALL WELCOME! Come to support peace in Yugoslavia, and learn things not told by US officials. Evanston, IL Monday April 12, 6:30PM meeting, at 8th Day Center for Justice, 205 W. Monroe, 312-641-5151. We'll have copies of flyers here. Contact: 773-784-8065; 773-561-5131 simpsonb@nwu.edu

Evanston, IL--> On June 18, 1999: U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will give the commencement address at Northwestern University in, at which the University will confer upon her an honorary doctorate of law. Join students, parents, and others from around the Midwest in Evanston on June 18th to make our voices heard by Northwestern University and Secretary of State Albright. We will have speakers, music, and a powerful, dignified presence at the commencement ceremony, honoring the children of Iraq who are victimized by the economic sanctions against the people of Iraq.Contact: 773-784-8065; 773-561-5131 simpsonb@nwu.edu .

Northern Evanston --> IL June 18, 1999 4pm-7pm: Ryan Stadium, on Central Ave. Initial sponsors: Voices in the Wilderness, Illinois Peace Action, Eighth Day Center for Justice. Contact: 773-784-8065; 773-561-5131; email: simpsonb@nwu.edu

I plan to attend the Northwestern event on June 18...maybe I'll see ya there, since it involves Mrs. Albright, who I'm sure will be good for a few soundbites, eh?

Maybe she'll reveal that the deaths of Serbian children are, as in Iraq, acceptable to the mission and I'm sure that, like her Iraqi statement, CNN will down-play it, give her a pass and continue to "report" the company line.

Surely, if _I'm_ able to access this type of information, Mr. Schneider, with his vast experience and resourses available to him, should know about it.

Or, maybe he does, but including this information wouldn't provide the proper "spin" that he and CNN are attempting to put on this situation.

Perhaps, a remedial course in Journalism 101 would be in order.

Also, if CNN is truly looking for the voices of dissent that _don't_ agree with the policy issues involved, might I suggest the following:

The World Socialist Web Site:


Institute for Public Accuracy (now there's a new and radical concept, huh?):


Z Magazine-- commentary by prominent NATO critics Noam Chomsky and Edward Said-notably absent from the CNN studios:


The Nation:


The Progressive:


Common Dreams/NewsCenter:


War Resisters League:


International Action Center:


These are just a few examples of the "voices of dissent" that, while easily accessable by me, seems to be a dark and mysterious world that doesn't fit within the "analysis" of Mr. Schneider or CNN.

As with SO MANY stories in the past, it's apparent that truth, integrity, balance and proper historical AND current perspective are concepts that fall far short of the agenda of CNN.

If Schneider's understanding of dissent is limited to the mainstream media, his statements would be accurate and understandable. It's a shame that he limits himself (and ultimately, his viewers) in such a way. Unfortunately, there is much more going on that fails to make the news, that Mr. Schneider and CNN is once again failing to provide.

CNN needs to expand it's coverage of the war in Yugoslavia to include progressive critics that have been marginalized by the media thus far.

But I fear, Mr. Kaplan, that, just like your handling of the "Tailwind Story" and reporters Oliver & Smith who covered it (which was dispicable, BTW), we are faced with yet another story that is "...not a journalistic problem," but one that's "...a public relations problem!"

Is it any wonder you and your fellow producers and editors in the "media" have lost the confidence and trust of the public which you are supposed to serve? That circulation and ratings are down?

Do you and your peers REALLY sit around and wonder about the answers to these questions?

Perhaps these answers, like the "voices of dissent" aren't really out there.

Or perhaps, you don't want to see them.

Or perhaps you do, but are answerable to a high power.

These answers, like so many others, probably won't be broadcast on Larry King Live.


Glynn Ash