The Julian Assange saga brings to mind another truth-teller who had to go.
Remember Ashleigh Banfield, the former ‘next big thing’ in cable news? Her reporting from the Twin Towers on 9/11 (she personally pulled an injured cop out of harm’s way fer Elvis sake!) and then from Afghanistan and briefly from Iraq was substantial, exciting, fiercely honest.
That was then. In April of 2003, a month after we invaded Iraq, in a speech at Kansas State, she criticized the news coverage of Iraq and how news out of Afghanistan had dropped off the radar. She said news coverage of the wars was shallow.
She was of course yanked off the air. MSNBC, her employer, made her wait out her contract in a back room without any reporting or on air assignments. The point was to keep her out of sight until her star faded. The point was punishment. It worked. Banfield now works as co-anchor on some Court TV show.
Here are some outtakes from that speech. The whole thing is here.
ON REPORTING FROM IRAQ:
TALKING ABOUT WAR AND CABLE NEWS COMING TOGETHER
This TV show [the three weeks of reporting from Iraq] that we just gave you was extraordinarily entertaining, and I really hope that the legacy that it leaves behind is not one that shows war as glorious, because there’s nothing more dangerous than a democracy that thinks this is a glorious thing to do.
War is ugly and it’s dangerous . . .Cable is for entertainment, as it’s turning out, but not news.
I’m hoping that I will have a future in news in cable, but not the way some cable news operators wrap themselves in the American flag and patriotism and go after a certain target demographic, which is very lucrative. You can already see the effects . . . and you can already see that flag waving in the corners of those cable news stations where they have exciting American music to go along with their war coverage. . . I do urge you to be very discerning as you continue to watch the development of cable news, and it is changing like lightning. Be very discerning because it behooves you like it never did before to watch with a grain of salt and to choose responsibly, and to demand what you should know.
After that, she knew she was finished in her chosen field. She took the bullet.