2/03/2005

Eason Down The Road

This story is all over the conservative blogosphere, but I have a number of readers who won't go into that neighborhood; I won't feel too guilty about re-hashing it here.

You may remember Eason Jordan. He's the CNN honcho who confessed that CNN deliberately underreported stories of Saddam's atrocities.

Mr. Jordan is now embroiled in something of a larger dust-up. In a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum, Mr. Jordan asserted that he had specific knowledge that the U.S. military had targeted and killed 12 U.S. journalists. A second blogger who was in attendance has corroborated the story - and she is a woman who used to work for Eason and who received several promotions from the man.

CNN is on the defensive. They called the PowerLine (the blokes at the forefront of the Rathergate debacle) guys to try and spin the story, but wouldn't speak on the record. Requests to CNN are being met with a garden-variety "out of context" response:

Many blogs have taken Mr. Jordan's remarks out of context. Eason Jordan does not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists. Mr. Jordan simply pointed out the facts: While the majority of journalists killed in Iraq have been slain at the hands of insurgents, the Pentagon has also noted that the U.S. military on occasion has killed people who turned out to be journalists. The Pentagon has apologized for those actions.

Mr. Jordan was responding to an assertion by Cong. Frank that all 63 journalist victims had been the result of "collateral damage."
Jordan has a habit of accusing the U.S. military of attacking reporters. In a November 19, 2004 article in The Guardian, he had this to say:
"Actions speak louder than words. The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the US military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by US forces," Mr Jordan told an audience of news executives at the News Xchange conference in Portugal. (emphasis mine)
No transcript or recording of the panel discussion has yet been made available. Rebecca MacKinnon, another blogger at the forum, asked Eason to clarify his comments and got an email response.
Here's what's important. First, I stressed insurgents are to blame for the vast majority of the 63 journalist deaths in Iraq. Second, when Congressman Franks said the 63 journalists killed in Iraq were the unfortunate victims of "collateral damage," I felt compelled to dispute that by pointing out journalists in Iraq are being targeted -- I did not say all journalists killed were targeted, but that some were shot at on purpose and were not collateral damage victims. In response to a question about whether I believed the U.S. military meant to kill journalists in Iraq, I said, no, I did not believe the U.S. military was trying to kill journalists in Iraq. Yet, unfortunately, U.S. forces have killed several people who turned out to be journalists. In several cases, the U.S. troops who killed those people aimed and fired at them, not knowing they were shooting at journalists. However tragic and, in hindsight, by Pentagon admission, a mistake, such a killing does not fall into the "collateral damage" category. In Iraq and Washington, I have worked closely and constructively with U.S. military and civilian leaders in an effort to heighten the odds of survival for the courageous journalists in Iraq.
The solution to this problem is, of course, transparency - let's see the transcript. If Mr. Jordan's comments were, in fact, taken out of context, there will be a long line of people in the blogosphere that will owe him an apology.