CNN ‘Edits’ Russia’s UN Ambassador

The American television channel did away with responses by Vitaly Churkin that it did not like.

The scandal caused by the treatment of White House press photographers and obstacles hindering them from carrying out their professional duties has not subsided yet, but a new one has already erupted. This time, television channel CNN’s management has taken upon itself the role of political censor.

During the postproduction of an interview with Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, the most pertinent responses — reflecting Russia’s view on the situation in Syria — were cut out. The Russian diplomat’s statements ran counter to the Obama administration’s official line on Damascus; evidently, that is why they did not make it on the air. In particular, when asked about the situation in Syria, Churkin urged everyone to take into account the will of the country’s people, a large portion of whom support President Bashar al-Assad. However, viewers did not see this. They also did not see the part of the interview where the permanent representative talked about the opposition obstructing the activity of humanitarian organizations.

Churkin’s responses about Assad’s role after the start of the transition disappeared from the final cut of the broadcast. “It is up to the Syrians themselves to decide his fate,” he said, in the fragment of material that did not make it on air. However, CNN did not stop at these cuts. According to ITAR-TASS, Churkin’s commentary about the impermissibility of the opposition setting preconditions for starting negotiations in Geneva — scheduled for Jan. 22 — also ended up being cut out. All in all, in the words of the Russian diplomat, “the most pressing issues” regarding settling the conflict in Syria were left out of CNN’s interview.


Maria Zakharova, deputy director of the Department of Information and the Press of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Unfortunately, cases where the Western media, particularly television channels, censor and cut out some parts and opinions from interviews with Russian spokespersons are not rare. It has happened and happens repeatedly at all levels, no matter whom we are talking about — representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our ambassadors or diplomats who work abroad. When we ask why this or that fragment did not end up in an interview, they often tell us either that the channel felt that part of the conversation was not of interest or that there was not enough time to put the full interview on the air, and some part of the material had to be sacrificed. However, what is most interesting is that, as a rule, it is the most significant fragments of the interview that are sacrificed. There can be no other explanation for it — frankly, what we are talking about is censorship. When they talk to us about time constraints, they could probably shorten the insignificant passages rather than the most interesting ones. They cut out or, to put it more delicately, do not include precisely what is most important.

Therefore, when representatives of the ministry sign on to or arrange interviews with one or another of the Western television channels, we are sure to make our own audio and video recording in parallel, so that we have the full text. Then, it is posted on the ministry’s electronic resources — websites, social network pages, etc. Unfortunately, such is the Western media’s selective attitude regarding Russia. We deal with it on a daily basis.

We also encounter situations where an interview of this or that Russian representative does not appear at all. Most often, this happens with interviews in the editorial office of a Western publication. No logical explanation comes to mind for these situations. There have been cases where a member of the Russian government or the head of a large business empire converses for more than an hour in the editorial offices of the Western media, answering any and all of the most pointed, most pertinent questions, and then, we see that not even a single line of these conversations is published, not in the print version and not even on the publication’s website, where there are no space restrictions whatsoever. This is also a reality. And when we ask why it happened and why they invited this or that politician, official or government representative, why so much time was spent, we get a fantastical reply: Unfortunately, there was no information in the conversation that would interest the newspaper. Is this believable, if the Western journalists had the opportunity to freely ask any questions and accordingly get answers to them for an hour?

Again, there is only one way to counter it — use a recorder and then distribute the recorded material among alternative electronic resources.

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About Jeffrey Fredrich 199 Articles
Jeffrey studied Russian language at Northwestern University and at the Russian State University for the Humanities. He spent one year in Moscow doing independent research as a Fulbright fellow from 2007 to 2008.

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