CNN Nails Mine Owner Murray... With a Big Wet Kiss

When will the traditional media stop rolling out the red carpet for Utah mine co-owner Bob Murray? CNN anchor Kyra Phillips treated Murray like a hero on Wednesday, the same day the Salt Lake Tribune reported on documents that prove Murray had pushed for risky mining methods at Crandall Canyon. Risky mining methods Murray has strenuously denied employing, but which may have contributed to turning his mine into a death scene for three rescuers and six miners.

Phillips did show some grit at one point in the interview -- but not to take on Murray. Instead she stood strong in support of the job her network has done covering the story: "I can tell you right now as a journalist here at CNN, and our entire news operation, in no way shape or form have we forgotten what each one of those miners has done."

But no one has suggested that CNN has forgotten what the miners have done. The problem is that they have forgotten what Murray has done to the miners.

It took CNN 12 days, as Arianna pointed out here, to get around to questioning the safety of the Crandall Canyon mine, offering the chyron, "Safety of Rescue Operation Debated." Instead, the network has given endless air time to Murray and Richard Stickler, Bush's mine safety czar, who has offered more protection to the mining industry than to coal miners.

Phillips had the chance to ask Murray the kinds of questions that could expose dangerous mining practices -- and possibly save lives in the future. Instead, she let the interview become yet another opportunity for Murray to buff his image as the grieving surrogate father of the miners that were killed under his supervision.

Phillips ended the softball interview not by pressing Murray on the day's million-dollar question -- Did you place the recovery of more coal from your mine above the safety of your miners? -- but by asking Murray "How are you holding up?"

She then offered Murray the CNN stamp of approval, telling him: "I appreciate your time... and your honesty."

Perhaps in Phillips' lexicon, "honesty" means phony chest-beating from a mine owner looking to cover his tracks -- tracks that have contributed to the deaths of nine brave men.

John Amato has the video and the transcript at Crooks and Liars.