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CNN LIVE or LIES? Distorting Ukraine’s Crisis With Maps

CNN LIVE may not only be trying to remake the outside world of cartographic images, but also the inside world of its viewers, starting with perception and mental maps.

America’s renowned global media giant, CNN, could not have made a more obvious blunder than when it placed Ukraine in the midst of Afghanistan and Pakistan, just northwest of India.(1) But was CNN’s interactive and colorful three-dimensional map, replete with Ukraine’s flag, a black pointed arrow and the words: “Eastern Ukraine Referendum,” a simple geographical mistake? Or was it a sinister plot to mislead viewers so as to persuade them in supporting US military intervention? If CNN LIVE committed the latter, then, it is guilty of the geographical sins of false association, proximal distortion and cartographic disconnectedness.

Inserting eastern Ukraine between Pakistan and Afghanistan is committing the cardinal crime of false association. In other words, is CNN LIVE attempting to connect Ukrainian protests, demonstrations and referendums with the Global War On Terror, specifically as it pertains to Afghanistan and Pakistan? If so, it is in lock-step with most of America’s mainstream press which has repeatedly referred to demonstrators and protestors as either rebels or “terrorists.”(2) It mirrors the Obama Administration too, which has continually called for efforts to stop the ongoing “terror” in the separatist region, even claiming the referendums were “illegal” and threatening economic or military intervention.(3)

CNN’s proximal distortion cannot be more glaring, especially since it places eastern Ukraine 2,000 miles from its absolute and relative locations. In doing this, is CNN LIVE hoping its audience will perceive Ukraine to be a far-away, clearly distinct and separate region from Russia and the Black Sea? Internalizing such a false narrative, of Ukraine’s remote proximity to Russia, convinces viewers that Russia is an imperial and belligerent nation, and that it should have no nationalistic interest with Ukraine. However, nothing could be further from geographical truths. Ukraine shares a border with Russia for thousands of miles, along with its history and ethnicity.

Another reason for the mishap might be what a recent survey revealed about Americans and their perception of war and maps. The further away they thought Ukraine was located from Eurasia, the more likely they wanted the US to commit military troops, even justifying war. Information about Ukraine, or the absence thereof, influenced Americans’ attitudes about the kind of policies they wanted their government to pursue and the ability of political elitists to shape that agenda. As alarming as the cartographic-disconnected-war-syndrome sounds, only 16 percent could identify the correct placing of Ukraine on a map. Members of military households were no more likely to correctly locate Ukraine.(4)

In “How Five American Companies Control What You Think,” Eric Sommer documents how major news sources avoided reporting that the US government is consciously supporting two radical far-right parties which are in control of key positions in the coup-installed new “government” of Ukraine. A major reason is that five conglomerates, one being Time-Warner (CNN news group), are corporate members of the Council on Foreign Relations. This dominant organization has been influential in shaping U.S. government and economic policies resulting in sanctions, destabilization efforts and military attacks against some nations. All five conglomerates profit from such deadly misadventures.(5)

CNN LIVE may not only be trying to remake the outside world of cartographic images, but also the inside world of its viewers, starting with perception and mental maps. If fear is a precursor to war, as was evident prior to the U.S. military invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, so too is geographic ignorance and disconnectedness. Even more so, it is extremely difficult to change initial perceptions about a person or an event which has already been formed, even if they are later proven to be false. Convergence between humans and mass media technologies is still new. When joined with CNN LIES, a virtual-like intelligence, separated from reality, can be a harbinger of things to come.


(1) See CNN’s Ukraine map, 5/11.14.

(2 State Dept: End “Terror” in Eastern Ukraine, by Jason Ditz. 5/14/14.

(3) US Won’t Recognize Sunday Ukraine Referendum, by Jason Ditz. 5/12/14.

(4) The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S. to intervene, by Kyle Dropp, Joshua D. Kertzer, and Thomas Zeitzoff. 4/8/14.

(5) How five American companies control what you think, by Eric Sommer, Russia Today. 5/15/14.

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