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Bug #30227 closed:corrected

CNN story falsely said John Walker Lindh is a "convicted terrorist"

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This bug appeared in a news report published by CNN on Sep 24, 2009 by Terry Frieden. View the original news report.
Bug Type:  Fabrication

The article, about a terrorism suspect named Michael Finton, contains the statement:  "Authorities said Finton idolized convicted terrorist John Walker Lindh -- an American who was captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan...."  This is a grievious error.  John Lindh, my son, is not a "convicted terrorist."  Althought intitially accused by the U.S. Gov't of providing "services to a terrorist organization (al Qaeda)," John Lindh was exonorated in a plea bargain in which this charge was dropped.  It is very harmful and defamatory to refer to John as a terrorist.


Frank Lindh has not contacted CNN

Bug History

Jun 29, 2011 1:47 pm Open Frank Lindh
Jun 29, 2011 5:01 pm Open: Under Discussion Mark Follman
Aug 10, 2011 10:01 am Closed: Corrected Mark Follman

Discussion Leave a comment

We have emailed CNN about this seeking a response.

Jun 29, 2011 5:01 pm

No response to date from CNN as to whether they are looking into this. We've used the CNN.com editorial feedback form twice now; we've also emailed Chris Dwyer, Executive Director of PR for CNN Asia Pacific, per his communications with us last October about this CNN bug report:


On June 29 we emailed Dwyer about this John Walker Lindh bug report (in addition to using the feedback form). He replied then that he had passed it along to CNN colleagues in the U.S.

Jul 08, 2011 10:27 am

After additional follow-up (via CNN.com Tech Support, oddly enough) we received this email from CNN:

We received your email regarding a 2009 CNN.com article on Michael Finton, which also makes reference to terrorist charges against John Walker Lindh. We have reviewed the story and the facts that led to John Walker Lindh’s arrest and conviction, and have update the article with a correction that clarifies the specific charges against him.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention and keeping it on our radar.


D. Wynn
CNN Viewer Communications Management

Here is the full text of the correction notice now posted atop the CNN story:

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously referred to John Walker Lindh as a "convicted terrorist." The terrorism charge against Lindh was dropped as part of an agreement under which he pleaded guilty to one count of supplying services to the Taliban, and one count of carrying weapons while fighting against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Aug 10, 2011 9:54 am