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What the hell was Eason Jordan thinking?

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  • What the hell was Eason Jordan thinking?

    Eason Jordan at Davos Conference

    Do US Troops Target Journalists in Iraq?
    Davos, Switzerland from the WEF 2005

    This fiery topic became a real nightmare today for the Chief News Executive of CNN at what was an initially very mild discussion at the World Economic Forum titled "Will Democracy Survive the Media?".

    At a discussion moderated by David R. Gergen, the Director for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, the concept of truth, fairness, and balance in the news was weighed against corporate profit interest, the need for ratings, and how the media can affect democracy. The panel included Richard Sambrook, the worldwide director of BBC radio, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, Abdullah Abdullah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, and Eason Jordan, Chief News Executive of CNN. The audience was a mix of journalists, WEF attendees (many from Arab countries), and a US Senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd.

    During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others.

    Due to the nature of the forum, I was able to directly challenge Eason, asking if he had any objective and clear evidence to backup these claims, because if what he said was true, it would make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park. David Gergen was also clearly disturbed and shocked by the allegation that the U.S. would target journalists, foreign or U.S. He had always seen the U.S. military as the providers of safety and rescue for all reporters.

    Eason seemed to backpedal quickly, but his initial statements were backed by other members of the audience (one in particular who represented a worldwide journalist group). The ensuing debate was (for lack of better words) a real "sh--storm". What intensified the problem was the fact that the session was a public forum being taped on camera, in front of an international crowd. The other looming shadow on what was going on was the presence of a U.S. Congressman and a U.S. Senator in the middle of some very serious accusations about the U.S. military.

    To be fair (and balanced), Eason did backpedal and make a number of statements claiming that he really did not know if what he said was true, and that he did not himself believe it. But when pressed by others, he seemed to waver back and forth between what might have been his beliefs and the realization that he had created a kind of public mess. His statements, his reaction, and the reaction of all in attendance left me perplexed and confused. Many in the crowd, especially those from Arab nations, applauded what he said and called him a "very brave man" for speaking up against the U.S. in a public way amongst a crowd ready to hear anti-US sentiments. I am quite sure that somewhere in the Middle East, right now, his remarks are being printed up in Arab language newspapers as proof that the U.S. is an evil and corrupt nation. That is a real nightmare, because the Arab world is taking something said by a credible leader of the media (CNN!) as the gospel, or koranic truth. What is worse is that I am not really sure what Eason really meant to communicate to us, but I do know that he was quite passionate about it. Members of the audience took away what they wanted to hear, and now they will use it in every vile and twisted way imaginable.

    To me, what was said can not be put back into the genie's bottle. So here is my request as a U.S. citizen, and really only a minor, minor player in the whole WEF scheme of things: Congressman Frank and Senator Dodd, you both seem like good and honest men, and Congressman Frank especially seems like someone with a bit of courage (I'm sure Senator Dodd is brave as well). Clear up this mess, use your power and authority as elected leaders, and make transparent what really happened. You must do this to respect the 12 journalists killed and let the world know how and why. Here is another challenge, and this one is for the CNN and the BBC: What the hell happened? Is Eason right or is he wrong? Good journalism calls for digging into and revealing all of the facts (or was everything that was said in the mild part of the discussion about fair coverage and seeking the truth just verbage?).

    If what Eason originally said was true, exactly what happened and why needs to become known to the American public and world at large. If it is not, it is an example of how "news" is created by the heat of the moment, without any bearing to reality. If it is true, we need to know if it was official or if it was just some random disgruntled soldiers. The dark scenario, what the rest of the world would love to believe, is that the U.S. is sinister and evil and this is just another example of Darth Bush. Is this the same U.S. that I know and love, or was this just someone accidentally becoming swept up in the anti-U.S. feeling that is all pervasive in Davos (but they love us too, especially Clinton).

    The cherry on the whipped cream of this cowpie sundae was poor Abdullah Abdullah, a shining new, fresh scrubbed member of America's grand experiment to export democracy to the Middle East. Here is someone who seemed to be idealistic, full of hope and vigor. What is he thinking about all of this? What kind of role model are we presenting to the fragile new democracies of Afghanistan and Iraq? What we can do, what we must do, is show them how democracy works, and how in an open and free country the truth will get out, and those responsible will be held accountable. The U.S. makes no claims about being perfect - we only make claims that we are open enough to correct our problems, and to admit freely to ourselves and the world if we are wrong.

    As a last note, I think that this article is a good pointer to the future of the news: average people, freely saying what they want, as they saw it, for anyone to see. To me, that is freedom of the press.

    Its one thing to make accusations, but you better have your facts checked and be prepared to disclose. This one needs some attention to delve into the details. For the record, this is the same Eason Jordan who rationalized his need to build relationships with Sadaam to not reporting the atrocities CNN knew of in Iraq during the 90's.
    "Just puttin on the foil" - Jeff Hanson

    “In a democracy, I realize you don’t need to talk to the top leader to know how the country feels. When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that’s the dictator, because he speaks for all the people.” - Jimmy Carter

  • #2
    he's a jackass

    slander, slander, slander, goose!@


    • #3
      They killed that Al Jazeera guy. I remember that one.
      Only feebs vote.


      • #4
        Eason Jordon Quits.


        CNN's Jordan Resigns Over Iraq Remarks
        News Chief Apologized For Comment on Troops

        By Howard Kurtz
        Washington Post Staff Writer
        Saturday, February 12, 2005; Page A01

        Eason Jordan resigned last night as CNN's chief news executive in an effort to quell a burgeoning controversy over his remarks about U.S. soldiers killing journalists in Iraq.

        Even as he said he had misspoken at an international conference in suggesting that coalition troops had "targeted" a dozen journalists and insisted he never believed that, Jordan was being pounded hourly by bloggers, liberals as well as conservatives, who provided the rocket fuel for a story that otherwise might have fizzled.

        Eason Jordan said he was resigning so that CNN wouldn't be "unfairly tarnished."

        Jordan, 44, said in a statement yesterday that he was quitting after 23 years at the network "to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq. . . . I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise."

        No definitive account of what Jordan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 27 has been made public, including the forum's videotape of the off-the-record session. Two Democrats who were there, Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (Conn.), criticized Jordan's remarks. Others in attendance, including U.S. News & World Report editor at large David Gergen and BBC executive Richard Sambrook, said Jordan had clarified his remarks.

        New York University professor and blogger Jay Rosen said bloggers "made a lot of noise" about the Jordan flap. "But there was basic reporting going on -- finding the people who were there, getting them to make statements, comparing one account to another -- along with accusations and conspiracy thinking and the politics of paranoia and attacks on the MSM, or mainstream media."

        Journalist and blogger Jeff Jarvis said Jordan, like CBS News's Dan Rather after his flawed story about President Bush's military service, failed to acknowledge his mistake. "He could have said, 'Oops, I did something stupid, I'm sorry.' Instead he came out with obfuscating statements and now he's quit in shame."

        Glenn Reynolds, who writes as InstaPundit, said "it was the stonewalling, the lame response" that sealed Jordan's fate. "And although there are some people calling it 'another scalp for the blogosphere,' it was really a case of Jordan taking his own scalp."

        In a memo to the staff, CNN News Group President Jim Walton praised Jordan: "The regard in which he is held by people from every walk of life in virtually every corner of the world has added incalculably to our ability to cover such historic events as the Gulf War and the war in Iraq, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon."

        Several CNN staffers say Jordan was eased out by top executives who had lost patience with both the controversy and the continuing published gossip about Jordan's personal life after a marital breakup. Jordan's authority already had been greatly reduced after a management shakeup.

        At the forum, Frank has said, Jordan seemed to be suggesting "it was official military policy to take out journalists." Jordan later "modified" his remarks to say some U.S. soldiers did this "maybe knowing they were killing journalists, out of anger," Frank said.

        In an interview this week, Jordan said he had been responding to Frank's comment that the 63 journalists killed in Iraq were "collateral damage." "I was trying to make a distinction between 'collateral damage' and people who got killed in other ways," he said. Jordan cited such 2003 incidents as the U.S. shelling of Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, a haven for foreign journalists, in which two cameramen were killed, and the fatal shooting of a cameraman outside Abu Ghraib prison.

        Blogs operated by National Review Online, radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt and commentator Michelle Malkin were among those that began slamming Jordan last week after a Davos attendee posted an online account, but the establishment press was slow to pick up on the controversy. The Washington Post and Boston Globe published stories Tuesday and the Miami Herald ran one Thursday. Also on Thursday, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens, who was at Davos, published an account accusing Jordan of "defamatory innuendo," and the Associated Press moved a story. As of yesterday, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today had not carried a staff-written story, and the CBS, NBC and ABC nightly news programs had not reported the matter. It was discussed on several talk shows on Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC but not on CNN.

        Gergen said Jordan's resignation was "really sad" since he had quickly backed off his initial comments. "This is too high a price to pay for someone who has given so much of himself over 20 years. And he's brought down over a single mistake because people beat up on him in the blogosphere? They went after him because he is a symbol of a network seen as too liberal by some. They saw blood in the water."

        In his statement, Jordan said: "I have great admiration and respect for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, with whom I have worked closely and been embedded in Baghdad, Tikrit, and Mosul" and other places. "As for my colleagues at CNN, I am enormously proud to have worked with you, risking my life in the trenches with you."

        He touched off a furor with a New York Times op-ed piece in April 2003, saying CNN had withheld information about some of Saddam Hussein's abuses out of concern for its Iraqi employees in Baghdad. This sparked criticism that the network was collaborating with a murderer's regime to maintain its access. Jordan wrote that Hussein's son Uday had told him in 1995 of plans to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law and the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. The CNN executive said he had warned the king; the brothers-in-law were later killed.

        Howard Kurtz hosts CNN's weekly media program.
        "Just puttin on the foil" - Jeff Hanson

        “In a democracy, I realize you don’t need to talk to the top leader to know how the country feels. When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that’s the dictator, because he speaks for all the people.” - Jimmy Carter


        • #5
          I haven't been following this, but it looks like this could have been nipped in the bud, if Jordan had done an unequivocal apology and admitted that he made a mistake.

          He tried to push it back on people misperceiving what he said, which is really stupid, especially since Barney Frank was one of those who "misperceived" what he said.

          As I read the story trail, Kurtz tried to defend Jordan, which doesn't make sense, considering that Kurtz wasn't at the WEF.
          I came upon a barroom full of bad Salon pictures in which men with hats on the backs of their heads were wolfing food from a counter. It was the institution of the "free lunch" I had struck. You paid for a drink and got as much as you wanted to eat. For something less than a rupee a day a man can feed himself sumptuously in San Francisco, even though he be a bankrupt. Remember this if ever you are stranded in these parts. ~ Rudyard Kipling, 1891


          • #6
            The bigger story is this got virtually no coverage in any of the mainstream news sources.

            So to recap the liberal blogs such as KOS were able to get that powerhouse of conservative media Jeff Gannon to step down while the conservative blogs took down that small fry Eason Jordon.

            Soomehow the trade seems equitable.
            "Just puttin on the foil" - Jeff Hanson

            “In a democracy, I realize you don’t need to talk to the top leader to know how the country feels. When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that’s the dictator, because he speaks for all the people.” - Jimmy Carter


            • #7
              I just find it somewhat funny that has this under "entertainment"


              • #8
                As I read the story trail, Kurtz tried to defend Jordan, which doesn't make sense, considering that Kurtz wasn't at the WEF.

                Kurtz was somewhat of a secondary story to the Eason Jordan one. Some people (Mickey Kaus in particular) have been on Kurtz's case for a while now, claiming that his job at CNN (hosting Reliable Sources) has created a conflict of interest that prevents him from reporting honestly on media events involving CNN. The fact that he was very slow to deal with the Eason Jordan story, combined with what seemed like a defense of Jordan when he finally did address it, has done little to discourage Kurtz's critics.

                So to recap the liberal blogs such as KOS were able to get that powerhouse of conservative media Jeff Gannon to step down while the conservative blogs took down that small fry Eason Jordon.

                The loss of a man as great as Jeff Gannon still stings, but the scalp of Jordan shall provide me with a bit of solace in what is an otherwise incomprehensibly bleak time...
                KH FOR OWNER!
                ASHER FOR CEO!!
                GUYNEMER FOR OT MOD!!!


                • #9
                  I'm not aware of any journalists in my company having been targeted by the U.S. military, and we had the largest presence over in Iraq and surrounding nations in the lead-up to, during and immediately after the war.

                  "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll die defending your right to say it." — Voltaire

                  "Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart." — Confucius