Michael Ware says goodbye to CNN

As I posted on the site, Michael has left CNN.

His work for them 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.

Read more about PTSD at the IAVA website.

****UPDATE****

CNN has released this statement on their PR page:

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.”

Wow. Classic non-denial denial. Notice what they DON’T say: they don’t say that he is coming back.

(And there are many ways that they could have, without going into contract issues — something as simple as “we anticipate his return” would have done nicely.)

As for CNN being regarded as “an industry leader” in regards to PTSD, I have no idea. Maybe they are. But maybe the industry standard would cover giving him six months off and when he asked for additional time, that was more than they could do.

ANOTHER UPDATE: for those of you who are not regular readers and happen to come to this page, PLEASE continue reading the blog — Michael will be returning to CNN in 2011. The network offered him a one-year leave of absence in order to deal with his PTSD. If all goes well, we will be seeing him again next spring.

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About wondercyn

Someone who thinks too much and writes too little.
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18 Responses to Michael Ware says goodbye to CNN

  1. Mavis says:

    I am overwhelmed and don’t know exactly what to say.

    The first action on my part is to totally block CNN from my tv. I don’t want any of their advertisers to subliminally make their way into my mind. Next, I have been paying a substantial amount of extra per month to subscribe to CNNI. That’s over. No more of my money.

    I pledge to give that money to help people with PTSD.

    I’m going to post more later, but have to process this.

  2. mebz72 says:

    I promise to post a more articulate (and no doubt angry- CNN, you jackass!) comment when I’m not so dumbstruck.
    I just woke up to this news and can’t quite process my reaction so quickly.
    I’m like Mavis- overwhelmed.

    All I’ll say for now is directed at Mr. Ware:
    You’ve spent most of the last decade giving all of yourself so that we, who are sitting safe and comfortable in our homes, might get a little bit of reality and truth in our lives. It’s a bitch. And I would never be so pompous as to say, I know what it’s like, I don’t. But it has been appreciated. Take back from the world, whatever you might need, you, more than anyone else I can image, have earned it. Thanks for being my eyes on a war where friends have both fought and died.
    These words are wholly insignificant in comparison to what you have given all of us, but thanks.

  3. Sharon says:

    After all the years of Michael’s excellent reporting in dangerous war zones risking his life CNN chose not to support him in his time of need. How very disappointing. However, I’m sure once Michael is ready to come back on air he will find a much better network to join! It’s CNN’s loss.
    I’m very much looking forward to reading Mick’s book when it comes out and attending a book signing event which I hope he will have.
    Mick if you are reading this you have many admirers that love your work and care very much about you and your well being. I wish you all the best and I hope to see you in the near future. Thank you for all you have done.

  4. maxie says:

    It really is a huge loss for CNN…CNN continues to lose their top talent…I am hoping that Michael will go back to print journalism or freelance reporting, if and when he is ready to make his return…The “five minutes” here and there that the cable networks give their reporters is just not enough for the in-depth reporting he is capable of.

    Having said all that, I want to thank Michael for giving me the best understanding I could have of the complex situation which is “Iraq”…Your work and dedication was incredible…I can only hope that we will get more of your reporting sometime in the future.

  5. jenmelia says:

    I’m in shock- I can’t believe CNN would not support him.
    He made their coverage stand out with his bravery & refusal to accept the “standard line”

    I wish all the best in life & career moving forward. I will certainly read his book

    Shame on CNN

  6. Melissa Burwell says:

    Thanks for letting us know! I wish him all the best–Michael is so talented both as an on-air reporter and in print. I’ll be sending buckets of good wishes his way. I’m sure his road to recovery is not an easy one to navigate but kudos to him for recognizing the need to get help.

    With that said: I still can’t believe that CNN did this to him! I gave up cable a few months ago and so kept visiting this site to get updates in order to hear Michael’s reports (loved having access to the clips online!). Now, I really have no reason to ever watch CNN OR visit its website again. (which is just what I told CNN!) Thanks again for keeping us in the loop!

  7. Jodi54 says:

    Can’t even assimilate this news. Will comment my outrage when I’m not on my BlackBerry. But be assured, wherever Michael Ware takes his brand of truth-telling, I will go. Where Michael goes, my news viewing loyalty will follow.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My God. I can’t believe CNN would do this to ANY reporter, let alone Michael. And if the rumors are true that Christiane has left, too, then I have very little reason left to watch CNN. They’ve just lost two of their very best people. I don’t know what the story was with Christiane, but it sounds like CNN was just indifferent to the fact that Michael was really suffering and needed some time away to heal. Would they have treated him like this if he had lost a leg to an IED? No way. Just goes to show how misunderstood PTSD still is.

    All I can do at this point is to wish Michael well, and hope that wherever he lands, he will find more support. I will certainly keep watching him, no matter he ends up.

  9. DC says:

    I’m having a hard time digesting all of this and can’t really say anything about it except how bloody upset I am. However, I found this link where a former CNN reporter commented on Michael’s leaving. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/another-international-loss-for-cnn-michael-ware-leaves-network/

  10. cyn says:

    I have updated the post with CNN’s official response.

  11. Linnea says:

    Did anyone see the comments on mediaite.com? Some real idiots posted there, who clearly know NOTHING about PTSD.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is better for Michael. He will take the time to heal, rest and write his book, and when he is ready he will work in the best place possible for him. Enjoy your time off and don’t give CNN a second thought it is their loss.

  13. Premasru says:

    I started noticing your absence on CNN about a month ago. Sorry to hear I won’t see you again, on CNN, at least. I am an Australian living in India, so I could only see you on that cable channel. Best of luck Michael. Look forward to reading your book though.

  14. Serge says:

    Michael Ware was a true warrior that risked his life to tell the stories as they were unfolding not as news media would like us to believe. It is through the gallant effort of men like him that we Americans have come to realize that war is not a spectacle of fireworks but a tragedy that consumes countless innocent lives. I believe CNN and other mainstream media is complicit in perpetuating the horror of war by sanitizing news coverage.
    Good luck Michael. CNN is not worthy of your altruistic service.

  15. susan seymour says:

    I hope Michael Ware comes back he is valued for his truth and integrity. He is much needed. I hope he is recovering well.

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