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US State Department 'Disappointed' About CBS Airing Pearl Video - 2002-05-15

The State Department said it is "disappointed" that the U.S. television network CBS broadcast parts of a videotape showing the murder of kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. In an unusual move, department officials intervened on behalf of the Pearl family to try to stop the network from carrying the tape.

State Department officials have said the multiple calls to CBS were not an attempt at censorship, but rather a humanitarian gesture on behalf of the Pearl family. Despite the appeals, the network carried about 30 seconds of the tape in its Tuesday evening broadcast, showing the kidnapped reporter responding to questions, but leaving out the horrifying scenes that followed of Mr. Pearl's beheading.

Briefing reporters, State Department spokeswoman Lynn Cassel said the intervention came after officials had been contacted by Mr. Pearl's family. "At the request of the Pearl family, the department contacted CBS News to confirm whether CBS intended to broadcast parts of the videotape, and to ask that - in consideration for the sensitivities of Mr. Pearl's family - CBS reconsider that decision," Ms. Cassel said.

CBS said the tape was being posted on Islamic extremist web sites and that it carried the excerpt only after great deliberation, to show the danger of what it said is a propaganda war being waged against the United States.

Mr. Pearl was abducted in Pakistan while on a reporting mission last January. His body has not been found.