Fired CNN Producers Lash Out

7/26/1998 8:00 PM Eastern

New York -- The two producers dismissed by Cable News
Network for their story on Operation Tailwind fired back on Wednesday.

April Oliver and Jack Smith, whose story asserted that the
U. S. military used lethal nerve gas in Laos during the Vietnam War, blasted the network
and defended their reporting in a 77-page document aimed at rebutting attorney Floyd
Abrams' investigation of the "Valley of Death" broadcast on the inaugural NewsStand:
CNN and Time
last month.

Smith and Oliver said the report by Abrams and CNN general
counsel David Kohler contained "numerous significant inaccuracies, mistakes and
omissions." They accused Kohler of having a "glaring conflict of interest"
because he "reviewed and approved" the story on Operation Tailwind.

The producers responded to the Abrams report charge that
they failed to prove the use of nerve gas in Laos by asking "Since when is [proof]
the journalistic standard? Even in a criminal court of law the standard is not absolute
proof, but proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

Smith and Oliver also said CNN chairman Tom Johnson,
CNN/USA president Rick Kaplan and Kohler all approved the broadcast after having been
fully briefed on the story's content and controversial nature.

A CNN spokesman replied that the network had retracted and
apologized for the Tailwind story, adding 'We learned nothing new today that would
alter that stance."

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