Drawings in the magazine Charlie Hebdo that triggered reprisals and death threats against the publication’s staff have never been more newsworthy than today, when terrorists stormed the publication’s Paris offices in a rampage that claimed the lives of 12 people. Yet CNN and host Wolf Blitzer hid them in a segment this afternoon.
In closing out his eponymous show this afternoon, Blitzer sketched out a brief biography of Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier that focused on his brave defiance of threats from terrorist organizations. Charbonnier was among the 12 people killed today.
Blitzer explained that Charbonnier’s publication had “endured threats and lawsuits for nearly a decade, starting when they reprinted 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that first appeared in a Danish newspaper.” Pointing out that depictions of the prophet are forbidden by Islam, Blitzer noted that in 2011, the Charlie Hebdo office was firebombed after it poked fun at the religion by naming Muhammad as its guest editor. Blitzer: “The editor Stephane Charbonnier, who was among those killed in today’s attack, fueled more anger after posing amid the damage with a cover depicting the prophet making a facetious comment.”
Paired with that comment from Blitzer was this image on the CNN screen:
So viewers got to see Charbonnier, but not the image that had “fueled more anger.”
Moving on to another, similar controversy, Blitzer said, “Back in 2012, the magazine published a series of cartoons depicting the prophet again — sparked more protests around the world.” Paired with that comment from Blitzer was this image on the CNN screen:
Charbonnier’s courage comes through; the image (a cover with Muhammad in a wheelchair) he is defending does not. Really: What’s the point of showing an editor presenting the cover of his publication while not showing the cover of the publication?
A glance at Google Images shows that shots of Charbonnier posing alongside his anger-arousing covers aren’t hard to find. Why didn’t CNN provide a more complete view? “As this distressing story continues to evolve we are actively discussing the best way of addressing the key issues and images across all of our platforms” said a CNN spokesperson via e-mail. “Those conversations will continue throughout the day and beyond as the story develops.”
Those conversations shouldn’t take so long: Show it all, whatever the consequences.