White House Calls TV Networks On bin Laden Tapes

"The five major television news organizations reached a joint agreement yesterday to follow the suggestion of the White House and abridge any future videotaped statements from Osama bin Laden or his followers to remove language the government considers inflammatory," reports the New York Times. ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, CNN, and Fox News executives in a conference call with White House national security adviser Condoleeza Rice agreed to edit out of Al Qaeda video anything that contained "flowery rhetoric urging violence against Americans" and to provide "appropriate context" for the Al Qaeda video that they do broadcast. The NYT reports one network executive described the arrangement with the White House as "patriotic." Earlier in the week, the networks had broadcast an unedited taped message from Osama bin Laden and the cable news channels had aired a complete speech by an Al Qaeda spokesman.