ABC says it did its homework


Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Tom Tancredo have both fired off potshots at ABC News for airing a story about CIA plans to disrupt the Iranian government in a "nonlethal" manner. Both felt that airing information on covert CIA activity could harm US security. ABC said it had run the story past proper authorities and stood by its decision.

Romney said, "I was shocked to see the ABC News report regarding covert action in Iran." He added, "The reporting has the potential of jeopardizing our national security. To put it quite plainly, it has the potential of affecting human life, we may never know." His comments were echoed by Tancredo, who said that he objected to ABC "…running the story which could jeopardize American lives."

ABC reported that the CIA had presidential approval to spread propaganda, misinformation and to attempt to manipulate Iranian banking transactions. ABC News said, In the six days since we first contacted the CIA and the White House, at no time did they indicate that broadcasting this report would jeopardize lives or operations on the ground. ABC News management gave them the repeated opportunity to make whatever objection they wanted to regarding our report. They chose not to. This piece was very carefully reported, and it puts solid facts on the table concerning a crucial foreign policy challenge facing the United States and the world."

TVBR observation: Since every American citizen has a say in how the government is run, every American citizen needs to have reasonable access to the world situation. Obviously, there are times when the need for secrecy is legitimate. It would appear that ABC went the extra mile to make sure that this was not the case in this instance. Like in so many broadcast content issues, there is no bright line dividing what should be aired and what should be suppressed. In our opinion, in a free society, the error should be on the side of disclosure.