CNN Corrects After John Walker Lindh's Father Lobbies Media Bugs

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John Walker Lindh's father, Frank Lindh, filed a complaint with MediaBugs over CNN incorrectly labeling his son a "convicted terrorist." (Credit: Media Bugs)

CNN has corrected its 2009 report labeling John Walker Lindh as a “convicted terrorist” after his father, Frank Lindh, submitted a correction request to Media Bugs.

As Frank Lindh explained in his June 29 “bug” submission on the CNN report, his son “was exonerated in a plea bargain” of the earlier claims related to terrorism.  “It is very harmful and defamatory to refer to John as a terrorist,” his father wrote.

A 2002 PBS report confirmed that “John Walker Lindh pleaded guilty to charges of fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan and carrying explosives.”

A CNN report on Walker Lindh reported that he “was sentenced to 20 years in prison as part of an agreement reached in July under which he pled guilty to one count of supplying services to the Taliban and a criminal information charge that he carried a rifle and two hand grenades while fighting against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance.”

“As part of the plea deal, the government dropped all other counts in a lengthy criminal indictment, including one of the most serious charges — conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals,” CNN reported.

The Dallas Morning News also reported in an Oct. 5, 2002 story that Walker Lindh “pleaded guilty to charges of illegally helping the Taliban and agreed to provide information about what he had seen in Afghanistan, including time spent in al-Qaeda training camps.”

Further, the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, reportedly added that “there was no direct evidence” to prove Lindh’s involvement in the death of a military officer (SPANN) or had fought against any American forces.”

In an Aug. 10 update, Media Bugs’ Mark Follman posted a response from CNN noting that the network has since posted a correction.  The correction reads that “an earlier version of this story erroneously referred to John Walker Lindh as a ‘convicted terrorist.'”  The correction notes that ‘the terrorism charge against Lindh was dropped” in a plea agreement.

Frank Lindh submitted four other “bugs” in late June to Media Bugs about what he calls errors in news reports about him or his son. He also submitted a “bug” in late July claiming that “MediaBugs authors compound” the error.

Media Bugs’ Scott Rosenberg and Mark Follman had written in a report for the Atlantic on “corrections in the web age.”  The report highlighted an instance of inaccurate reporting by the Times on John Walker Lindh and a somewhat buried correction.  (The report was corrected last month, nine years after being published, and the correction is at the bottom of a four-page story.)

Frank Lindh’s media bug called out Rosenberg and Follman for “saying falsely that John received training at an ‘Al Qaeda-funded camp’ in Afghanistan.”  Instead, Frank Lindh asserts his son was trained in a Taliban camp.

Read more about that bug here.

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CNN Corrects After John Walker Lindh’s Father Lobbies Media Bugs

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