Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, explained on "Reliable Sources" that the network decided not to play the video because it contained no new information and was nothing but a clear use of torture by the militant group also known as ISIS. He called it "obscene," "disgusting" and something that "absolutely shouldn't be shown." CNN has instead chosen to show only a still image from the video when reporting on the story.
"What we're seeing is a form of torture," Maddox said. "This man is really trying to perform to save his life. Why would we showcase that?"
"Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter added that CNN had a tough debate over whether to play the video on air. But ultimately, Maddox said, the "editorial returns were not worth the ethical compromises" of showing the tape.
"We know that ISIS wanted us to show it," he continued. "And if we're in a situation where ISIS wants us to show anything, we should think really carefully about any way we can avoid doing that."
The decision echoes a previous statement by CNN against showing images or videos of U.S. journalist James Foley's death. Foley was also held in captivity by ISIS, and then beheaded in a video released to the public. Other news outlets, however, did not make the same decision with the Foley video.