CNN's X And The Crisis Team
That would be me.
Drudge broke the story at 9:25 p.m. EST. Twenty-eight minutes later, at 10:07 p.m., MediaBistro ran an explanation from CNN. Mysteriously, MediaBistro updated the CNN comment at 10:37 p.m. I didn't see the original CNN statement, but here's the updated version:
"Upon seeing this unfortunate but very brief graphic, CNN senior management immediately investigated. We concluded this was a technological malfunction not an issue of operator error. A portion of the switcher experienced a momentary glitch. We obviously regret that it happened and are working on the equipment to ensure it is not repeated."Thirty minutes is just long enough for CNN to see the post, discuss it internally and call back the left-leaning, media-sympathetic MediaBistro with an update.
What did CNN update? My odds on the probable updates are:
- Adding "unfortunate but" before "brief:" 22%. Someone probably said, "We ought to say it's unfortunate." Someone else probably laughed.
- Changing a more specific description to "a portion of the switcher:" 70%. In the early stages of a crisis, if you have something you're covering up, you don't want to be too specific or someone can test it. I would never say anything deceitful in a crisis because it will come back and bite your bottom, but CNN has shown that it will be deceitful and it doesn't care if it gets bitten as a result. If they're covering up operator "error," they don't want anyone to be able to prove it could not be a technical error.
- Changing to "concluded" from some other word: 6%. "Concluded" is a firm word, denoting a high degree of certainty but not absolute certainty. It's a perfect wiggle word for such a situation. Possibly replaced were "found" (not strong enough), "determined" (too strong) and "dreamed up" (too close to the truth?).
- Excising the words "We apologize to Vice President Cheney:" 2%. Not much chance they would have thought to apologize in the first place.
I've been kind in the preceding paragraph, picking up CNN's use of "error." The most important part of the statement CNN issued is its subtle denial that the X occured because of "operator error." The network did not address what many suspect really happened: That it was a deliberate act of defiant bias, not an innocent error.
Ignoring the elephant is a typical response of a deceitful crisis communications team. Dance around the obvious, talk of anything but, and hope they'll take their line of questioning elsewhere.
To answer the question that's on everyone's mind, CNN would have had to replace the statement
We concluded this was a technological malfunction not an issue of operator error.with something like:
We concluded this was a technological malfuction and neither a deliberate or inadvertent operator act.CNN's choice of wording tells me that there's more going on in the Atlanta control room than they're admitting, but we live in a First Amendment zone, and there is no policing authority over our media, so the matter can only be investigated through technology and supposition, not subpoenas.
Could it have been operator error? I asked my wife, who's produced two films and is familiar with digital imaging. She had an X appear once, when the free trial on a software program was up, but it ran at 15 frames per second so it was visible. Why would such a warning run at 30 frames per second, so it would not be visible?
Michelle quotes another person who's apparently familiar with the technology, who said,
The only way it can be a "glitch" is if there was another video source keyed over the Cheney feed that, strangely enough, was animated at around fifteen frames per second.CNN will get away with their fraud unless the blogosphere can come up with evidence as damning as the evidence against the Rather/Mapes letters. The network doesn't think this will happen and figures they'll get away with it -- which is why they passed this weak and very likely deceitful statement on to us.
Standard NTSC video is 30 frames per second. To pull this off, an animation had to be created, striped to tape, and overlayed or keyed over the Cheney feed.
It's possible it was a mistake. It isn't likely it was a mistake.