WASHINGTON, DC – In response to thousands of letters and phone calls from Armenian Americans around the country, CBS News has publicly stepped back from a report, broadcast on September 18th, that had mistakenly indicated that Armenia was linked with Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist network, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The news segment in question was broadcast as part of the “Eye on America” portion of the September 18th CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. In that report, CBS London Bureau correspondent Mark Phillips had said that the “poisonous alphabet soup of terror spills into… Armenia,” with the strong implication that Armenia itself represented a part of the international network of “radical Islamic terrorism.”
In a letter to ANCA Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian, CBS Senior Vice President Marcy McGinnis responded to the concerns raised by Armenian Americans who had taken part in the ANCA’s media campaign. McGinnis stressed that, “at no time did our reporters state or imply that Armenia, as a country, was linked in a cooperative way to any terrorist network.” She then further clarified the official position of CBS News, noting that:
“Armenia is a victim of, not a base for terrorist activity.”
“This clarification, which very clearly states that Armenia is not a base for terrorism, is proof positive for all those that took part in this media campaign that Armenian Americans can get involved and make a real difference in how issues impacting Armenia are covered in the national media. Working together, we, as a community, have the ability to hold the media accountable and set the record straight on the issues that we care so much about,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We would also like to thank CBS News for clarifying this matter and for the important role that it has otherwise played, during this time of crisis, to bring balanced news to the American people.”
In the days following the broadcast of the September 18th story, the ANCA organized a national campaign to encourage Armenian Americans to draw this misrepresentation of Armenia to the attention of CBS News. While noting that the rush of events placed great strains on the news media, the ANCA action alert on this topic stressed the importance of remaining “vigilant in not allowing inaccurate or misleading reporting to play a role in shaping public opinion or in impairing the ability of citizens to make sound judgments concerning our collective response to this national tragedy.”
A video clip of Eye on America segment is one of several posted on the CBS News website:
The ANCA website provides concerned Armenian Americans with an opportunity to urge local and national media outlets to provide accurate coverage of Armenia during this time of national crisis.