Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Michael Ware leaves CNN

We won't be seeing any more of Michael on AC360...

In addition to having taken a break recently in order to work on his book, it is no secret that he has been grappling with PTSD, brought on from the hellish years he worked in Baghdad. I was told that, unfortunately, when he needed more time off in order to deal with things, his request was denied. So he will not be returning.

While it is a huge loss for us (and for CNN) I am extremely relieved that he chose to take care of his own needs first. And while I sincerely hope that he will return to US television someday on another network, it is far more important that he gets the care he needs.

His work for CNN over the past four years has been an astonishing and brutally honest look at the causes and results of war. Not easy subject matter to watch… but he made us care. His urgency and passion burst through our television sets and made us pay attention, made us want to understand.

Personally, I will never forget the first time I heard him, speaking with Anderson Cooper via telephone to discuss Saddam Hussein’s trial as well as an article he had just written about an embed he had been on in Ramadi. It wasn’t even five minutes of airtime, but it was riveting. When it was announced that he would be joining CNN, I was delighted, because it meant we would be getting even more insight from him. And that we did — he worked like a stevedore, appearing on CNN at all hours of the day and night to make sure that we knew what was really going on in Iraq. As a viewer, you could tell that it mattered to him that the American people understood the issues in this far-away war of ours. He didn’t give a damn about the politics; he cared about what the grunts were going through and what the innocent Iraqi citizens (whose blood, he had to keep reminding us, is no less valuable than ours) were suffering.

His work was always insightful and informative, and on the too-rare occasions when he was able to do longer-format programs for them, it was like being in a classroom. He knew the material cold and presented it in a way that made it easy to comprehend. He is far from the average buffed-and-polished pretty boy posing for the camera. He’s real. He’s a guy — sorry; a bloke — you’d want to sit down and have a beer with, to ask how he’s doing and how he copes with all the craziness he reports on. And want to ask more about what he knows, what he’s seen, what he’s witnessed … no matter how unpleasant the answers would be to hear.

And exactly how does a news organization justify (to themselves, even!) not giving their war correspondents whatever they need in order to deal with their wounds, whether they are visible ones or not? If ABC had treated Bob Woodruff so callously, there would have been hell to pay. I don’t doubt they wanted him back in the field ASAP — doubly so after losing Christiane Amanpour — but don’t force him to make a choice between getting better and getting paid. That just sucks. Surely it would be better to have him off the air but still yours once he is ready to come back than to have him off the air and someone else’s upon his return? So not only has CNN made a callous move here, they have made a stupid one, as well.

What a tremendous asset he has been to CNN. And how foolish they are to lose him. Especially when the ratings are plummeting and the number of columns about how quickly they are losing stature are multiplying. Although, truly, ratings should not enter into these decisions, and none of us really expect corporations to display a modicum of decency or fairness anymore… Still.

When I first heard the news, I was angry at their foolishness. Now, I’m just sad. They blew it. Their loss will be another network’s gain.

I will, of course, continue to keep track of whatever work he does -- his book or other writings, or if he makes appearances here or in Australia.

When I started my site, he was working for Time magazine. I was delighted when he transitioned to CNN, knowing that it meant we would get more of his remarkable work. And now there will be a new chapter in his career to look forward to ... but only after this brief intermission.

Thanks, Mick ... be well.




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10 comments:

Tedi B said...

Wow, that is bad. Not sure why CNN would be so callous as to let him go during a time he needs some help (or rest, anyway). I've long defended CNN but man, I'm loosing a lot of respect for them. I wish they'd go back to their roots a little bit.

Good luck to Michael Ware! I wish him the best wherever he ends up.

Laurie Beth said...

I am shocked by this (granted, I actually didn't know about the PTSD so that contributes to my shock) and horrified that he was treated this way. And you're right, Cyn, no one is going to hear about it.

This makes me so angry I could spit. Michael Ware is one of the best combat reporters I have ever seen and I hope he finds himself well and in greener pastures soon. Gorgeous tribute, Cyn.

aries moon said...

Sorry to hear this. Whenever Michael reported, you felt you were getting the real story with no sugar coating--his in the trenches, raw reporting gave CNN some much needed credibility when it came to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--CNN has critics, but very few of them had anything negative to say about Michael Ware--he was considered that rare bright spot. This sounds like really bad and insensitive decision making on CNN's part. I hope Michael is able to get better and back to doing what he does best.

ACAnderFan said...

Wow that's sad that Michael Ware is no long with CNN. I always enjoyed his reports. CNN has lost a great reporter. Its ashame they couldn't accommodate him when he requested more time off. He was a true asset to them and in time they will see what a mistake they made in not trying to accommodate him.

judy said...

Cyn: Has this been confirmed? I checked TVN and their reply went back to ATC's blog: "Apparently ATC
"thinks" more is going on." I know you wouldn't put anything on that wasn't sourced through and through.
Why does this not surprise me that CNN is this callous towards their employees and their needs? Just look at how they've USED Anderson to promote everyone else.
CNN is in one word "sickening."

Em said...

Can't tell you how truly disappointing this is...

Anonymous said...

Phebe, have you and your bloggers considered checking your facts? CNN has issued a statement saying that Michael is NOT leaving CNN.


You look totally ridiculous now.
http://news.turner.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=5117

Cyn said...

Anon@9:36 -- Really, Anon? They said he isn't leaving? Well, let's check those facts... Here is what they said:

CNN's Statement Regarding Michael Ware
"With regard to Michael Ware, CNN has been and continues to be very supportive. Any issues regarding his contract remain confidential between Michael and CNN.

On the wider issue of PTSD, CNN is rightly regarded as an industry leader in this area. We offer outstanding help and support services to employees, past and present, in this area."


Hmm, funny... I don't see any mention of him not leaving. They don't even say he is still with them right now.

I stand by what I wrote. While I don't know whether they are the "industry leader" or what the industry standards might be, I do know that when he asked for more time, they declined to allow it.

Their -- and our -- loss.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with CNN?

Corey said...

How is CNN treating Anderson Cooper? He has been through hell and back. I have not seen him live on AC360 for awhile.I hope CNN is treating him with the respect and mental/physical support he may need after being in haiti for so long. CNN better be very careful with Mr. Cooper, if he leaves that may be the last straw for alot of CNN viewers.
Corey Koch