Cybercast News Service (CNSNews.com
) reported this week that Peter Jennings actively shaped news coverage in the 1980′s so that a communist dictatorship could be portrayed
in a more flattering light.
“Having kept quiet for 14 years, a former ABC News correspondent has gone public for the first time with allegations that network anchorman Peter Jennings manipulated news scripts during the 1980′s in order to praise the Marxist-backed Sandinista government in Nicaragua,” began the bombshell story by CNSNews.com’s Marc Morano.
The former correspondent, Peter Collins, is a veteran journalist who over the course of three decades toiled for the BBC, CBS News, Voice of America and CNN, in addition to ABC News.
Collins told Morano that Jennings “took a piece that I had written about the 10th anniversary of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua [in 1989] and first asked his producer to correct it for me and then he himself called me up in Managua and essentially dictated to me what I should say.”
According to Collins, “Basically what Mr. Jennings wanted was for me to make a favorable pronouncement about the 10 years of the Sandinista revolution and he called me up, massaged my script in a way that I no longer recognized it.”
Asked by Morano why Jennings was so interested in portraying the Sandinistas in a positive light, Collins responded: “Because I presume that Peter Jennings felt that the Sandinista regime, which was a communist regime – no questions about it – were mere benign agra-rian reformers…[Jennings] was a believer, was and is.”
Collins said that he and Jennings clashed often during his tenure at ABC News. At one point in the mid-1980′s, Jennings, shortly after having signed a new multi-year contract, warned Collins that changes would be made in the newsroom. Within a couple of months, ABC News executive producer Bill Lord was replaced by Paul Friedman, who had worked with Jennings when the latter was ABC’s London correspondent.
“Bill Lord had supported me in my coverage of Central America, against the wishes of Peter Jennings,” Collins told Morano. “[Jennings] was unhappy with my coverage because I tried to tell both sides of the story.”
Collins, wrote Morano, “believes CNN’s recent admission [that the network censored itself in reporting on the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq] and his own experiences in Central America are merely “scratching at the surface” of what Collins regards
as a longstanding failure of the media to report accurately about despotic governments, particularly left-of-center authoritarian regimes.
” “We can go as far back as Walter Duranty in (1930′s) Moscow for The New York Times, Herbert Matthews in (1950′s) Cuba for The New York Times - [how] those two writers tilted their coverage in ways when compared with the historical record was outrageous,” Collins said.”
Jennings and ABC News have declined to comment on Collins’s charges, but the story certainly rings true to those of us who watch Jennings with a critical eye. One can only imagine the extent to which Jennings “massages up the script” of his newscast’s Middle East coverage, given his pronounced pro-Palestinian proclivities.
The Monitor has often cited the invaluable work of the Media Research Center (MRC) in tracking, recording and documenting liberal bias in the media. MRC has put together a damning dossier on Peter Jennings featuring example after example of his tireless efforts
to put an anti-U.S., anti-Israel spin on the news.
Readers are urged to visit the MRC website (www.mrc.org) and scroll down the left side of the screento the “Studies in Bias” section. Click on “Profiles in Bias,” scroll down a drop and click “Palestine Pete: Jennings and the Palestinians.” There you’ll find a comprehensive record of Jennings’s coverage of the war in Iraq. For his shameful record on Israel, go to the bottom of the “Palestine Pete” page and click the “MRC Spotlight Archives.”
Many of you will no doubt download much of what you find for future reference. While you’re at it, drop the people at MRC a thank-you note for a job well done.