Saturday, May 17, 2008

`Downtown''s 1994 Interview With CNN's Then-Public Relations Spokesperson

(The following article first appeared in the February 2, 1994 issue of the now-defunct alternative newsweekly, Downtown, when CNN was still controlled by Ted Turner)

In a January 1994 telephone interview, Downtown asked CNN’s then-public relations spokesperson, Steve Hayworth, to describe the nature of CNN’s connection to the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation during the early 1990s?

“None, that I’m aware of,” the then-CNN spokesperson replied.

After Downtown informed the CNN spokesperson that then-CNN President Tom Johnson was also the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation Chairman of the Board, Hayworth responded that then-CNN President Johnson was “acting as an individual” and not for “the network and company” when he sat on the boards of the LBJ Foundation or the Rockefeller Foundation.

Downtown then asked the CNN spokesperson in early 1994 if CNN’s coverage of historical events like the JFK assassination had been affected by the then-CNN president’s past association with Lyndon Johnson?

“No. It would have been revealed in our coverage of the recently released Johnson audio tapes. But we ran more and more excerpts from these tapes than any other network,” Hayworth answered.

When Downtown asked in 1994 how CNN responded to the charge that it has broadcast fewer programs which investigate the JFK assassination than other U.S. television networks, Hayworth noted that “We had a fascinating, live 30th Anniversary show on the Larry King Show," but that CNN was “not an inquisitive” network.

Asked by Downtown in 1994 if he thought it strange that—despite the controversy in the early 1990s surrounding Oliver Stone’s JFK film and the fact that many books on the JFK assassination jumped to the top of the best-seller lists in the early 1990s—the “alternative” CNN had apparently not used its resources to investigate the JFK assassination, the then-CNN spokesperson replied: “This is not an historical or long form network. But if there’s new, revealing news about the JFK assassination, we report it.”

According to Hayworth, a CNN investigation into the JFK assassination in the early 1990s was “not pursued because there’s no new evidence” of any conspiracy or cover-up. Hayworth also asserted that CNN had provided fair access for Oliver Stone and other JFK assassination conspiracy proponents on its interview shows in the early 1990s.

(Downtown 2/2/94)

Next: CNN/TBS’s Pre-1979 Hidden History

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