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Officially the birth of CNN, the Cable News Network, was on June 1, 1980, at 6 p.m., when it launched with a story about an assassination attempt on the civil rights activist Vernon Jordan. However, some might argue that the true birth of CNN, and cable news in general, was on January 16, 1991, when the United States went to war with Iraq. Operation Desert Storm came complete with the spectacle of patriot missiles, with “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf making the conflict something of an action-movie-ready story for the cable news era. The Gulf War made cable news an important part of American political culture, with the U.S. military even stating that they made use of CNN as a tool for intimidating the Iraqi military.

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