Courtesy of Dale Franks over at Q&O comes this bit of journalistic malpractice on the part of CNN.
The subject was an investigative report on performance-enhancing drugs -- we'll call them Barry Bondoids for short. Interviewed was professional wrestler and retired Marine John Cena.
Wow! That sounds like Cena is admitting to using Barry Bondoids, but says that you can't prove it.
Here's the entire question and answer, provided by the WWE, because they, rightly, don't trust the media.
What were the first words out of his mouth? "Absolutely not." Cena is, like most Americans, not a professional public speaker. The theatricality required of professional wrestlers does not automatically extend to competence on serious discussions of steroid use. Cena did make the ambiguous statement CNN quoted in its piece, but it's clear from the longer clip that those words, taken out of context, give the viewer the opposite impression from what Cena intended to convey.
In a re-run of the piece, CNN came as close as they're apparently going to to admit error -- they added Cena's "absolutely not." But their explanation and defense for the first edit is outrageous. From Baltimore Sun blogger Kevin Eck:
In regard to the editing of Cena’s response to the question of whether he ever took steroids on CNN’s Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling, CNN’s director of public relations Jennifer Dargan wrote: “CNN felt that Mr. Cena's statement in the interview: ‘My answer to that question “have you ever used steroids” is — the only thing I can say — I can't tell you that I haven't, but you'll never be able to prove that I have’ was a more expansive and complete answer — and that's why we used it in the first run of the program. And we stand by that decision.”
Of course, that statement raises an obvious question: If CNN is so confident that it did not misrepresent Cena’s answer, then why did it re-edit his response to include him saying, “Absolutely not” in a replay of the program after receiving complaints?
Dargan addressed that in the statement: “But, we added the other quote on the Sunday replay where Mr. Cena first denied using steroids. We did this because of his complaint and the attention it received so that viewers could see how he said it both times.”
I'm not sure that this stealth "correction" would necessarily save CNN from a "false light" case. In fact, the public relations statement along with the stealth correction might help with proving the toughest part of such a lawsuit -- actual malice.
Cena probably won't bother with a lawsuit. The whole thing wouldn't be worth the time and aggravation. But, this does present a good case for members of the public to independently record their interviews with CNN -- and probably the dinosaur media as a whole.
Journalism. Wound. Self-inflicted.