ACTION ALERT: ABC Omits U.S. From Human Rights Report

On its January 16 broadcast, ABC’s World News Tonight aired this brief item about the annual report released that day by Human Rights Watch. But one country singled out for criticism by Human Rights Watch was conspicuously absent from ABC’s report: the United States, whose anti-terrorism measures were described in the group’s press release as ”
threatening long-held human rights principles.”

2002.01.18


On its January 16 broadcast, ABC‘s World News Tonight aired this brief item about the annual report released that day by Human Rights Watch:


“The international human rights group Human
Rights Watch has released its annual report, and it
says that several countries are using the U.S.-led
war against terrorism as a justification to ignore
human rights.

Human Rights Watch says that Russia, Egypt, Israel,
China, Zimbabwe, Malaysia and Uzbekistan have all
cracked down on domestic opponents in the name of
terrorism.”


That summary is close to what the group’s press release stated (1/16/02): “The anti-terror campaign led by the United States is inspiring opportunistic attacks on civil liberties around the world, Human Rights Watch warned in its annual global survey released today.”


But one country singled out for criticism by Human
Rights Watch was conspicuously absent from ABC‘s report: the United States, whose anti-terrorism measures were described in the group’s press release as ” threatening long-held human rights principles.”


Among Bush administration actions that were identified as demonstrating a “troubling disregard for well-established human rights safeguards” were “new laws permitting the indefinite detention of non-citizens, special military commissions to try suspected terrorists, the detention of over 1,000 people, and the abrogation of the confidentiality of attorney-client communications for certain detainees.”


While ABC ignored this criticism of the U.S. in favor of pointing fingers at other countries, the
rights report actually drew a connection between the
erosion of human rights standards in the U.S. and
overseas.

As the London Guardian reported (1/17/02), “dictators ‘need do nothing more than photocopy’ measures introduced by the Bush
administration, whose ability to criticise abuses in
other countries was thus deeply compromised, said the New York-based Human Rights Watch in a devastating 660-page report.”


ABC‘s exclusion of criticism of the U.S. did a disservice to its viewers.

U.S. human rights problems are the ones that are most likely to affect them, and also those that they are most in a position to do something about.


ACTION:

Please ask ABC to issue a correction to its
original report about the Human Rights Watch Annual Report to reflect the group’s criticisms of the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks of September 11.


CONTACT:

ABC’s World News Tonight

Phone: 212-456-4040

Fax: 212-456-2795

email: PeterJennings@abcnews.com


As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone.

Please cc fair@fair.org with your correspondence.

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Author: FAIR

News Service: Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

URL: http://www.fair.org/activism/abc-hrw.html