CNN Explains Honduras Reporting

By Chris Ariens 

CNN is responding to a claim that correspondent Karl Penhaul, who is covering the situation on Honduras, interviewed a man who’d already been accused of staging what was happening at a protest for “dramatic effect.”

On Wednesday, the blog Legal Insurrection wrote:

Reuters ran a staged photo of a bloodied Honduran protester. Contrary to the clear implication of the Reuters story, the protester was not bloodied from the protests, but as reported by Hunter Smith at Honduras Abandoned, the protester deliberately wiped blood on his shirt from the ground in order to get photographed.

Now this same protester, identified as Juan Angel Atunez, has appeared in a CNN news report by Karl Penhaul in a bloodied shirt claiming that a child died in his arms.

It is unclear if a child died at the protests, as most reports state only one adult died. Regardless, Hunter’s first hand observation of Atunez wiping blood on himself prior to being photographed and videotaped shows that Atunez staged his appearance and story for dramatic effect, which both Reuters and CNN buying into it.

Today, a CNN spokesperson responded to TVNewser:

CNN had two teams on the ground. We were present throughout the march. CNN staff saw and heard the shooting. The blogger says he was not present at the time the shooting took place. We interviewed a bystander who said he had held a child who was dying. At no point in our interview did the witness allege he saw more than one victim. At the time there was confusion about the age of the victim, who was passed through the crowd, bleeding profusely from his fatal head wound. Many bystanders and journalists initially believed from the size and appearance of the body that the victim was quite young, consistent with the witness’s story.

CNN regrets that our report did not point out that we could not independently verify the man’s account. Note that CNN carefully reported the official Red Cross death tally of one, but included the assertions from protestors that the death toll may have been higher, as did the blogger.