WATCH: ‘60 Minutes’ Defends Decision to Show Sarin Attack

60 Minutes
Image Courtesy of CBS News

In a move that both teases the episode and justifies its reason to air it, CBS’ “60 Minutes” has released a new video explaining its decision to air correspondent Scott Pelley’s new segment about a sarin gas attack on the suburbs of Damascus in 2013.

Called “A Crime Against Humanity,” the episode airs at 7 p.m. April 19 and, Pelley explains, is necessary viewing for anyone who wants to truly understand the travesty that took the lives of an estimated 1,429 civilians (many of whom where children).

While “60 Minutes” has not shied away from covering the consequences of war and upheaval — witness correspondent Lara Logan’s 2011 interview in which she recounted her sexual assault while covering Hosni Mubarak’s resignation in Egypt — the upcoming broadcast is another in a recent example of television journalists’ struggles to find ways to report on horrific events without scaring those ill-equipped to handle gruesome images. In February, Fox News chose to air a video of the burning of a Jordanian pilot held hostage by ISIS on its website as opposed to showing it on air. Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, told Variety last fall that “it’s clear that these videos are having a big impact on different countries, on government policy, on overseas policy, and it’s not for CNN to say therefore viewers shouldn’t see them.”

Do you think television news should show these types of videos? Sound off in the comments.

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  1. Sam M says:

    Scott et al, why don’t you do an episode on how the US Govt contributed to the outbreak of civil war in Syria? Since at least 2005 the US govt has made efforts to stoke sectarian strife and pit Sunni against Shia in an effort to destabilize the country, and incite the fall of the Bashar Assad govt.
    Well, we got the attempted overthrow of Assad, and here’s the horrific result. How many Americans, or even educated 60 Minute viewers, are aware of that?
    Here’s the cable from the US Charge d’Affaires in Syria in 2006….

    2006 cable from William Roebuck, Charge d’Affaires, at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus.
    ‘– PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business.
    Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here, (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders), are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue.”
    “We believe Bashar’s weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues.. and the potential threat to the regime.. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising.”

    Assad is brutal and I don’t have a horse in this race, but it’s the height of hypocrisy to play an active role in trying to topple a foreign government and then bemoan the subsequent atrocities of its civil war.

    • Mat says:

      You do realize that biological weapons are a war crime and against the Geneva convention also “summarizes our assessment” “suggests that there may be”. Yeah it’s those kinda facts that prove nothing other then you have an opinion and are assuming and guessing. After my assessment that dictator is evil a terrorist and commits crimes against humanity and needs too be removed.

      • SandraB says:

        Biological weapons are against the Geneva convention; however, the US has used them as much or more than any country! We used Agent Orange in Vietnam; white phosphorus and depleted uranium weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and left behind enough radiation-emitting equipment to ensure that occupants of both countries will have cancers, tumors, birth defects, etc., for generations. In Iraq, we also destroyed the wmd’s, kindly given to Saddam by our supposed “allies” before the war; hence the reason for the denial of their existence; but in blowing them up, they also contaminated the atmosphere. Everywhere the US has ventured, they have used these weapons w/out consequence. In fact, the majority of US deaths in Iraq were due to our use of depleted uranium—-turning our own troops into “crispy critters”. Our troops are also used as guinea pigs for big pharma—-all those vaccines for Ebola were purchased and pumped into our soldiers along with God knows what else (It is not released to them exactly what they are given in the injections at the time). And we proliferate the use of weapons through secret deals involving our CIA (hence the Benghazi-Hiltary Clinton debacle). Politicians are in bed with warmongering profit driven corporations leaving the populous of all nations at risk. (You could also call Oblama’s cover-up of the Gulf oil spill and minimization of the Fukushima radiation which has reached the Pacific coast at record levels—forms of treason and/or crime against humanity as well. It was Oblama who TWICE purchased contaminated seafood to save the Gulf fishing industry pronouncing the seafood “nutritious and delicious” before having it sent to be dispersed on our military bases.).

  2. Atomic Fury says:

    At the risk of sounding like a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal Arts major, no news should be sanitized in any way because in order for us to be able to move ahead as a species, it’s far better to do so on truth.

    I don’t need to see the image of that Jordanian man actually being burned to death. I have an imagination built through experience beginning with that iconic image of the war protester who lit himself on fire during the Vietnam War. But everyone should have access to such things in order to gauge who they are for the purpose of determining who will stand up to take action toward improving humanity.

  3. BigBroKnows says:

    Finally, the media is beginning to its job by allowing the public to truly bear witness to the global atrocities and existential threats we face.

    We, as a country and people of the western tradition, are waking up in the midst of a global war shouldering for the last 40 plus years; primarily initiated by ruthless dictators, militant Islam, narco-terrorists, and crime organizations.

    It’s about time we accept our responsibility to bear witness to what the free people of the world are up against, and hopefully move in unison to confront.

  4. Charles Butler says:

    I do not understand how We as the Greatest Country in the WORLD can, and is, just setting back and do nothing. You can not tell me that our Air Power could not take out this evil in a matter of days. Too many times our Country enter into situations like this and not willing to defeat the evil. We get held back because of Politics, Agendas, and Religion. When will we get a ‘Leader’ willing to get involved to ‘Win’ and End what we Start. Just wondering.

    • Mat says:

      So you think America needs too be the worlds nanny. No matter how many wars we go too psychopaths will always exist and you should fear the devil you don’t know much more then the one you do. We can’t always go to war in other countries cause of their internal problems they need to fix their own s&$t and get their act together. The only wars we should go too is if it threatens an ally or the USA. Our abilities would be much better served helping countries that want our help feeding hungry helping establish government basic medical care. We cant constantly go places too help people that hate us from other people that hate us cause then it just gives them a common enemy that they both want too kill and that serves no one

  5. Rick Martin says:

    I feel that the article went way over the top of decency, both as an act (ethnic cleansing) and as it was reported (by the 60 Minutes staff). Death cannot be portrayed on a video camera without great distortion and, I believe, disrespect for the fallen. A few stills would have conveyed the horror and allowed the viewer an opportunity to look aside for the time it took to define the issues. I was so disturbed that I had to shut off the TV. Do we really need to be so callous to make a point?

  6. M. F. Sibley says:

    The evil that Assad is projecting onto his people is overwhelming evil. When is the rest of the world going to do something to this monstrous piece of s***? How many more innocent lives have to be sacrificed before we (the world) do something?

  7. Anne Marie Ross says:

    The 60 Minutes segment by Scott Pelley on the use of the deadly use of the gas sarin in the attack in Damascus and what it did to the victims, was truly, truly heartbreaking. There is no debate on whether or not the footage should have been shown. It needed to be shown. This is what is happening in the world today. To not show the footage would be an injustice to the victims. The 60 Minutes report demonstrates the important work the United Nations is doing, and why sanctions against hostile countries to regulate chemical warfare are necessary. After seeing this tragedy, I will be looking into ways as an average American I can give to the organizations helping the refugees who survived. Thank you 60 Minutes.

  8. G Yarnball says:

    Absolutely. This is real and people need to know EVIL exists. Why is Bashar al-Assad still breathing himself? Beast. I am ashamed that we have not taken care of this horrible regime.

  9. kaci says:

    If you don’t show the videos people just ignore the news account.

  10. Jim Johnson says:

    The public needs to relies and see how other countries treat their people. This is way we need to be thankful of our freedom.

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