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Read about Jay Rosen's book, What Are Journalists For?

Excerpt from Chapter One of What Are Journalists For? "As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press."

Essay in Columbia Journalism Review on the changing terms of authority in the press, brought on in part by the blog's individual--and interactive--style of journalism. It argues that, after Jayson Blair, authority is not the same at the New York Times, either.

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Audio: Have a Listen

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Interview with host Brooke Gladstone on NPR's "On the Media." (Dec. 2003) Listen here.

Presentation to the Berkman Center at Harvard University on open source journalism and NewAssignment.Net. Downloadable mp3, 70 minutes, with Q and A. Nov. 2006.

Video: Have A Look

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One hour video Q & A on why the press is "between business models" (June 2008)

Recommended by PressThink:

Town square for press critics, industry observers, and participants in the news machine: Romenesko, published by the Poynter Institute.

Town square for weblogs: InstaPundit from Glenn Reynolds, who is an original. Very busy. Very good. To the Right, but not in all things. A good place to find voices in diaolgue with each other and the news.

Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

Rants, links, blog news, and breaking wisdom from Jeff Jarvis, former editor, magazine launcher, TV critic, now a J-professor at CUNY. Always on top of new media things. Prolific, fast, frequently dead on, and a pal of mine.

Eschaton by Atrios (pen name of Duncan B;ack) is one of the most well established political weblogs, with big traffic and very active comment threads. Left-liberal.

Terry Teachout is a cultural critic coming from the Right at his weblog, About Last Night. Elegantly written and designed. Plus he has lots to say about art and culture today.

Dave Winer is the software wiz who wrote the program that created the modern weblog. He's also one of the best practicioners of the form. Scripting News is said to be the oldest living weblog. Read it over time and find out why it's one of the best.

If someone were to ask me, "what's the right way to do a weblog?" I would point them to Doc Searls, a tech writer and sage who has been doing it right for a long time.

Ed Cone writes one of the most useful weblogs by a journalist. He keeps track of the Internet's influence on politics, as well developments in his native North Carolina. Always on top of things.

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Dan Gillmor used to be the tech columnist and blogger for the San Jose Mercury News. He now heads a center for citizen media. This is his blog about it.

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Chris Nolan's Spot On is political writing at a high level from Nolan and her band of left-to-right contributors. Her notion of blogger as a "stand alone journalist" is a key concept; and Nolan is an exemplar of it.

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The Editor's Log, by John Robinson, is the only real life honest-to-goodness weblog by a newspaper's top editor. Robinson is the blogging boss of the Greensboro News-Record and he knows what he's doing.

Fishbowl DC is about the world of Washington journalism. Gossip, controversies, rituals, personalities-- and criticism. Good way to keep track of the press tribe in DC

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Novelist, columnist, NPR commentator, Iraq War vet, Colonel in the Army Reserve, with a PhD in literature. How many bloggers are there like that? One: Austin Bay.

Betsy Newmark's weblog she describes as "comments and Links from a history and civics teacher in Raleigh, NC." An intelligent and newsy guide to blogs on the Right side of the sphere. I go there to get links and comment, like the teacher said.

Rhetoric is language working to persuade. Professor Andrew Cline's Rhetorica shows what a good lens this is on politics and the press.

Davos Newbies is a "year-round Davos of the mind," written from London by Lance Knobel. He has a cosmopolitan sensibility and a sharp eye for things on the Web that are just... interesting. This is the hardest kind of weblog to do well. Knobel does it well.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, writes about democracy, technology, intellectual property and the law. She has an elegant weblog about those themes.

Kevin Roderick's LA Observed is everything a weblog about the local scene should be. And there's a lot to observe in Los Angeles.

Joe Gandelman's The Moderate Voice is by a political independent with an irrevant style and great journalistic instincts. A link-filled and consistently interesting group blog.

Ryan Sholin's Invisible Inkling is about the future of newspapers, online news and journalism education. He's the founder of and a self-taught Web developer and designer.

H20town by Lisa Williams is about the life and times of Watertown, Massachusetts, and it covers that town better than any local newspaper. Williams is funny, she has style, and she loves her town.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing at is a daily review of the best reporting and commentary on the presidency. Read it daily and you'll be extremely well informed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former correspondent for CNN, has immersed herself in the world of new media and she's seen the light (great linker too.)

Micro Persuasion is Steve Rubel's weblog. It's about how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the business of persuasion. Rubel always has the latest study or article.

Susan Mernit's blog is "writing and news about digital media, ecommerce, social networks, blogs, search, online classifieds, publishing and pop culture from a consultant, writer, and sometime entrepeneur." Connected.

Group Blogs

CJR Daily is Columbia Journalism Review's weblog about the press and its problems, edited by Steve Lovelady, formerly of the Philadelpia Inquirer.

Lost Remote is a very newsy weblog about television and its future, founded by Cory Bergman, executive producer at KING-TV in Seattle. Truly on top of things, with many short posts a day that take an inside look at the industry.

Editors Weblog is from the World Editors Fourm, an international group of newspaper editors. It's about trends and challenges facing editors worldwide. keeps track of developments from the British side of the Atlantic. Very strong on online journalism.

Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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February 5, 2005

Weekend Note on Eason Jordan

"The original account was too ambiguous for me. It had him saying United States soldiers targeted journalists, and then claiming that's not what he meant. He later explained it as: the soldiers were trying to kill these people, but did not know they were shooting at journalists."

More Pressthink: Eason Jordan’s Job is the Political Job in TV News. (Feb. 6)and Richard Sambrook of the BBC: What Eason Jordan Said in Davos (Feb. 7).

Hugh Hewitt has had me on his radio show twice, and the last time was specifically to discuss the Eason Jordan story. But before I delve into something like that (did CNN’s chief news executive say in Davos that U.S. troops had deliberately targeted journalists?) I want to know what happened. That’s what I told Hugh Hewitt.

On Feb. 2, he asked at his blog, “What does Howard Kurtz or Jay Rosen have to say about this?” Now he writes, in a Memo to Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen, “You can’t cover the press if you don’t press the coverage.”

… both appeared on my show this week and announced tentative dismay with Eason Jordan’s alleged remarks. They can reserve judgment until they see the transcript, of course, but can anyone hold up MSM’s Orwellian treatment of this story as acceptable?

Thanks, Hugh. I think I will reserve judgment. PressThink reader Tim, who now blogs as Sisyphus, scored a coup in securing the promised delivery of a tape next week that will at least tell us what Eason Jordan said at the World Economic Forum about United States soldiers shooting journalists.

The original account was too ambiguous for me. It had him saying United States soldiers targeted journalists, and then claiming that’s not what he meant. He later explained it as: the soldiers were trying to kill these people, but did not know they were shooting at journalists. Not much of a scandal in that.

These reservations are reflected in a summary by the National Review’s Jay Nordlinger, who was in Davos but not at the Jordan event. He found people who were there and pieced the following together: (Feb. 3)

Apparently, Eason Jordan states ? or implies (on this, I am not quite clear) ? that the U.S. military is targeting journalists for murder in Iraq. Yes, you read that right. Barney Frank ? as it is told to me ? goes nuts: What? Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’ve reported this story, right? It is a momentous deal. Jordan starts to backpedal, realizing that he has gone too far, with this audience… Afterward ? again, as it is reported to me ? Jordan is surrounded by Arab attendees, who congratulate him on having the “courage” to speak the hard truth. Jordan accepts those congratulations.

Apparently. States? or implies. On this, I am not quite clear. When I say: I want to know what happened, this is what I mean. Only the tape can tell us. Until then I don’t have too much to say in the category of “how outrageous was this?” To review the controversy for yourself—which PressThink readers should do—see these first hand reports:

That’s the original account of Eason’s remarks. Abovitz, a vice president of a medical technology firm and a participant in the Forum but not a reporter, followed that up with:

Which was after he had returned to the United States. Then see:

UPDATE: Albovitz expresses some reservations about the blog “swarm” and gives advice to Jordan:

Rebecca MacKinnon—journalist, blogger and Berkman Center fellow—was also in Davos: “I was in the room and Rony’s account is consistent with what I heard,” she writes.

MacKinnon is a former correspondent for CNN: Eason Jordan was her boss then. She writes to him for an explanation and gets one:

She later responded to questions from Hewitt:

Another statement from Jordan came to blogger Carol Platt Liebau:

UPDATE: I solicted this statement from Richard Sambrook of the BBC, who was there:

And here is the official WEF account of the panel, which makes no mention of Jordan’s comments on targeting journalists. There are a few things I can say now:

  • I can think of no good reason for the major news media not to investigate what Jordan said, and what he meant by it. It is somewhat surprising to me that we haven’t seen a story from either a journalist who was in Davos, or a media beat reporter like Mark Jurkowitz of the Boston Globe, Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times, or Howard Kurtz, who of course works for CNN. The event was on-the-record, and a tape was made. There are no obvious obstacles to investigating further.
  • Possibly the reason we haven’t seen the coverage is that they’re waiting for the tape, as bloggers are. But it is also possible that Eason Jordan’s comments tipped the press off to a bigger story involving the deaths of journalists, and the protests from news organizations.
  • CNN made sure many bloggers who were posting about Jordan’s comments had copies of a statement the network put out. (Many of the bloggers were startled to receive the communique out of the blue. See this.) That in itself is significant. Someone there is watching the blogs on this one.
  • Someone who knows him should ask David Gergen for his comments on what happened. Gergen was there, and he would understand why it matters.

After Matter: Notes, reactions and links…

Rebecca MacKinnon decides to track “Easongate” posts and resources. See this ( tag for easongate) “So far, most of the activity is on the right-hand side of the political spectrum, with center and left blogs plus non-rightwing MSM largely silent.”

LaShawn Barber is also keeping a collection of links. See her update too.

Mickey Kaus at Slate: “Kurtz Stays Silent in Eason Jordan Controversy! Day 7. …Seriously, isn’t this something you’d expect WaPo’s media reporter to cover, one way or another?”

See Captain’s Quarters, MSM Silence On Eason Jordan, for the absence of coverage in the major media.

Prematurely, I think, there is now a blog, Easongate. Washington Times editorial.

Journalist and blogger Joe Gandelman: “The allegations he makes are so grave that it seems unlikely this story will die away until either he produces more proof or CNN has to eat political crow and do some damage control.”

I was a guest on NPR’s On the Media this week, talking with host Brooke Gladstone about the rise of the term “MSM,” or mainstream media. Listen here. (It’s 3-4 minutes.)

Posted by Jay Rosen at February 5, 2005 1:06 AM   Print

PressThink reader Tim, who now blogs as Sisyphus, scored a blogger's coup in securing the delivery of a tape next week that will at least tell us what Eason Jordan said at the World Economic Forum about United States soldiers shooting journalists.

Jay, thanks for the link and the kind words here and in the previous post on the "ethics test".

As I wrote in the comments at my blog:

Here are the three possibilities:

* 1. I'll get scooped by Big Media who will get a copy of the tape first.

* 2. Mr. Adams will get me the tape by next week.

* 3. I'll get slow-rolled by Mr. Adams.

My first impression of Mr. Adams is that he deserves EVERY benefit of the doubt. I would also expect that if he can arrange a win-win, he will.

Also understand that I'm going to be careful not to be made the fool. I'm going to verify the tape when/if I get it with Mr. Adams and Rony Abovitz and ...

I have gotten a lot of attention today for what amounts to sending a short email and getting a reply. I'm glad I could at least verify Rony's belief that a video existed. I got an email from a reader that made me think ... if I do get this video before it is shown elsewhere, I could certainly act like a reporter and bring a copy to CNN for comment.

I'm considering that seriously. I find it hard to believe that I won't get scooped on the video. In many ways, it's scary if I don't.

I can't imagine that Mark Adams hasn't been contacted by CNN as well. And if I'm the first to get possession of the video, that's going to be an "OH, Sh*t!" moment for me.

Posted by: Sisyphus at February 5, 2005 2:45 AM | Permalink

Keep reserving judgment. Maybe it will go away.

Posted by: Thomas Davis at February 5, 2005 7:06 AM | Permalink

CNN's email response: "Eason was attempting to speak out on an issue that is important to news organizations all over the world. Unfortunately, he was not clear enough in explaining his assertion." Questions: 1) Why are the news organizations not interested in something so important to them? 2) If the head of CNN can't clearly express himself in such a forum on an issue of such importance, what does that say about competence?

Posted by: David Jones at February 5, 2005 9:54 AM | Permalink

2) If the head of CNN can't clearly express himself in such a forum on an issue of such importance, what does that say about competence?

His remarks were not prepared. When people speak "off the cuff" they are often imprecise.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 5, 2005 10:43 AM | Permalink


You write: "CNN made sure many bloggers who were posting about Jordan's comments had copies of his statements."

Speaking as a blogger who was e-mailed by CNN out of the blue over this, no they didn't. They made sure we had CNN's spin on his statements. Here's the e-mail I received:

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."

What bloggers have been asking for is a transcript. CNN surely has the resources to provide one. Yet we'll apparently not get one until a blogger gets a copy of the tape. Why?

Posted by: Doug at February 5, 2005 11:21 AM | Permalink

My favorite word in Hewitt's criticism is "can't."

I wonder if this means that Matt Drudge "can't" cover media & politics now, since he hasn't (to my knowledge) written word one about it, either.

My guess is that the story will bubble or at least trickle forth once someone like Kurtz actually writes something about it, triggering links from the blogs-unfriendly Romenesko & Drudge, and thereby lifting the controversy out of the finite universe of political weblogs.

In the meantime, as Thomas Davis aptly illustrates, even if "Blogging vs. Journalists is Over" (which I think it's not), "Partisans assuming the motivations of the dreaded MSM" is here to stay.

Posted by: Matt Welch at February 5, 2005 1:40 PM | Permalink

I'm stepping cautiously on this story, having put up on short note on Winds of Change when the story first broke, and nothing since. I'm far from being aligned with Hugh Hewitt on many issues. However, I agree with him to this extent: it does seem to me that we have at least the appearance of disparate responses of the professional media to the allegations about Jordan's comments, on the one hand, and those of Marine Lt. Gen. Mattis, on the other hand.

p. lusiack writes that Jordan's remarks were imprecise because they were not prepared. Let's assume for the moment that that is true. So too were Mattis' -- and unlike Jordan's, Mattis' were not delivered in front of an international audience who lapped it up, if the accounts of 2 eye witnesses at Davos are to be believed. It appears that Mattis was speaking to other military, law enforcement and security professionals. And he was speaking about his first-hand knowledge and experience.

Jordan, on the other hand, was speaking to policy makers, media and others of influence around the world. He made, it is alleged, highly damaging remarks about events which, after some backtracking, he acknowledged were not known by him to be factual. Davos is not a place for casual "off the cuff" remarks that make incendiary accusations -- directly or indirectly -- and most especially not for ones based on hearsay. Although, if the accounts are correct, he began by asserting that he knew for a fact the US military targetted journalists.

Knew for a fact. Until he backtracked. That is a deeply damaging thing to say about the US military. To say it casually -- or to assert it as fact and only back down when challenged -- and to do so at Davos is, well ... irresponsible? unprofessional? intentional???

I'm trying to reserve judgement about what exactly Jordan said. However, what I find most disturbing about the story so far is that, if MacKinnon's account is correct, Jordan accepted the praise of Arab journalists who found in his remarks corroboration of their own beliefs without any attempt to disabuse them of their interpretation. That suggests strongly that he believed they heard his meaning and intent correctly.

I seem to be the only person who is making a potential connection between Jordan's reference to al Jazeera journalists being victimized by US force, on the one hand, and the fact that al J. will apparently be up for sale shortly. If this was Jordan's way of positioning CNN to be a favored suitor, then he has probably achieved his goal no matter what we here in the US think of him and his statements.

I appreciate the dilemna for the mainstream media with regard to reporting on this story. There is caution about reporting allegations whose severity is personally appreciated by journalists. The compressed news cycle that the Internet exacerbates in many ways puts conscientious journalists in a bind.

However, precisely because of the nature and context of Jordan's remarks, this story should have been addressed, at least with a brief "this has been reported and we are investigating" sort of notice. Failure to do so gives the appearance -- and may reflect the reality -- that the major news outlets had no intention of touching this one.

Meanwhile, the story of the Marine general describing the emotional response of warriors to combat has been plastered all over the media, print and broadcast. It's certainly appropriate to hold the military leader responsible for his words, which apparently were in the context of an unspecified forum about fighting terrorism.

The problem comes when that same standard isn't also applied to the most senior news executive at a major news outlet, speaking to an international audience.

Posted by: Robin Burk at February 5, 2005 2:43 PM | Permalink

The CNN email ends: "Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the U.S. Military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of 'mistaken identity.'" Will he repeat that in Arabic?

Posted by: David Jones at February 5, 2005 4:26 PM | Permalink

Jay - I suspect your caution will be rewarded. When Jordan stepped in it with his New York Times op-ed, I went after him hard. But that time we had his words in print. This time, too many are ready to rip him apart without even knowing what he said. By all means, let's find out - and hold our fire until then.

Posted by: Dan Kennedy at February 5, 2005 5:29 PM | Permalink

I think this a very typical non responce by MSM. It is nothing more than a pattern which many of us have seen over and over.

Since it does not fit with the ideals of MSM, then it becomes a non story. I tend to think of is as just another "free pass".

Jay you an others wonder why MSM is on the decline. This is another fine example.

It is too bad CNN is believed by many in the world as the face of America. I some times wonder if you have ever seen how they cover a story on their US network and compare it to their international coverage. Talk about playing to your audience.

Posted by: Joe at February 5, 2005 5:42 PM | Permalink

If/when said eagerly-awaited tape/transcript appear, we need review by witnesses for possible Dowdification. Unless, of course, there's some unexplained Eighteen-Minute Gap.

One wonders also if Jordan viewed his own statement from enough angles to consider he was in effect declaring open season on journalists who make dangerous pests of themselves in combat. It is not novel for soldiers to see the press as hostile. William Tecumseh Sherman once labeled reporters "a set of sneaking, croaking scoundrels."

Posted by: glenn at February 5, 2005 6:58 PM | Permalink


Ok here's a question: Why are you waiting for someone else to get a videotape by snailmail?

What are you going to do then? Ask for a written transcript? Are you going to rely on someone else's reporting?

What I'm getting at is why isn't there a transcript available? Don't you have any contacts? Sources? Resources?

Are you an insider? Or an outsider looking in?

Posted by: ed at February 5, 2005 8:06 PM | Permalink

Jay, you know already that what Eason Jordan "said", and meant, IS NEWS.

One of the BIG LIES about the (news) Contraption is the idea that newspeople are NOT "part of the news". The "Fourth Estate" of free press gov't, like the 4th estate of free religions, needs publicity and scrutiny of the top power wielders just like every other group with power.

Captain Ed also notes that Mr. Jordan had, previously, claimed that the US military also tortures journalists. Did you know this and deliberately NOT include this above?

Mr. Jordan also apologized for CNN broadcasting Saddam's propaganda, in order to get the internal local access. In other words, CNN was trusted by viewers because it was local, but was local because it feeding out half-truths, and accepting Saddam's censorship -- CNN was LYING to the viewers. And advertisers.
Did you know this and deliberately NOT include it above?

Mr. Jordan's history starts to shift the burden of proof towards expecting he is guilty; and the official spin letters (I got one) by CNN certainly seem to be implicit that they know he LIED.

It's still reasonable for you to reserve judgement on Mr. Jordan (who I think should have been fired after CNN admitted to lying for access); but you are showing a double standard about CNN's investigation of the NEWS.

You should judge them incompetent for news if they can't provide the video, and a transcript, within a day; OK, maybe two days.

And the story is starting to break; so CNN stonewalling won't last. And, actually the big story is the MSM censorship denial that their own lies ARE a story.

(Though the business strategic goals of CNN looking to feed the market niche of anti-American propaganda, falsely labeled as "news", is another side issue.)

PowerLine reports that Jack Kelly in Pittsburgh has it ...

Those who object to CNN should write them letters, AND write to General Mills, one of their advertisers. Maybe Mr. Jack Stone will send you a reply, too...

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 5, 2005 9:28 PM | Permalink

Tom: I think of CNN and an executive like Jordan as totally "part of the news," and legitimate to report on. No exemptions for being in the biz. A story is a story is a story. If anything there should be more beat reporters doing news stories about it.

You said I know that what he said is news. You are mistaken. I said I don't know that yet.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 5, 2005 10:44 PM | Permalink

Many of us find the bias in two areas. The Spin and The Silence. I give them equal importance, so regardless if it can't be proven in court, this stinks.

Kerry's team did not think they had to respond to the Swift Vets. Two years earlier, it would have worked. It was understood: Maintain radio silence.

Regardless if Jordan comes out squeaky clean, the Press is the loser. By this point, someone could have called Franks or Gergen. Even if they can't remember exact words, they remember if it was confrontational, and report such. It is the total silence that is damning.

Posted by: Taylor at February 6, 2005 12:06 AM | Permalink

The problem comes when that same standard isn't also applied to the most senior news executive at a major news outlet, speaking to an international audience.

the problem is actually that there are people stupid enough to equate the comments made by an American general whose forces took the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslims, and someone from the media.

There is no equivalence. Period. End of conversation.


note to Jay---perhaps you should stop responding to everything that wingnuts like Hewitt and Jarvis have to say, or at least provide equal attention to thing like the fact that the NY Times did not publish a story that was getting a lot of attention from the "left" wing of the blogosphere---the Bush Bulge story.

The failure of the media to pursue this story and yet go bat-shit over "memogate" shows you how conservative the media really is. The media ignored clear and unequivocal evidence that a Presidential candidate cheated during a debate, but went into overdrive to cover the question of whether CBS had screwed up.

This is the REAL story that you should be covering....not what the warbloggers happened to be concerned about.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 6, 2005 9:31 AM | Permalink

I'm sorry... is there a point to this?

I feel like a kid who woke up from a nap to find mommy and daddy locked in an argument over the toaster. If I promise not to be mean to the toaster ever again, will everyone just stop yelling?

Apparently Jordan said.... something, and ... it may not have been accurate? And this got almost no news coverage (possibly because it was, um, inaccurate... or possibly because apparently no one knows quite what he said)... and this is... I'm sorry, what is this?

As I said, I'm sorry, I'm sure it's just naivete rather than, say, sanity, but is this something crucial? I mean, I get that, if, as Jordan says, journalists have been killed in some sort of deliberate way by armed forces (anyone's armed forces really, not just ours), that's really really bad... but what does everyone think war is, anyway? War is about killing people. Lots of people. I don't think your chosen profession will exempt you from, er, death. I thought that was why war reporting was considered highly dangerous, and thus not for the faint of heart. I suppose in some way I'm vaguely opposed to the killing of journalists more than others, but generally I'm just opposed to killing. So, as you might guess, I've been pretty down on the war to begin with. This really doesn't change that point of view, whether or not Jordan is prved right... about whatever it is he's supposed to be, um, not right about...

I'm sure I'm missing something, but I have to tell you, I actually pay attention to the news, and even to the right wing noise machine. And I just don't get this... which makes me think it's eluding the importance-meter of a lot of folks.

Posted by: weboy at February 6, 2005 11:47 AM | Permalink

And I just don't get this... which makes me think it's eluding the importance-meter of a lot of folks.

its important to the people that Jay Rosen thinks are important---war bloggers like Jarvis and Hewitt. They are covering it in their little warbloggers club, so Rosen covers it. But because Atrios, and Kos, and Jerome ARmstrong and Digby, and god-knows-how-many-other anti-warbloggers aren't part of Rosen's little "club", when the are concerned with something that is truly significant, Rosen pays no attention to it.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 6, 2005 11:52 AM | Permalink

Weboy, if you don't think the accusation (and, if true, the revelation) that the American military is INTENTIONALLY TARGETING journalists for death - the presumption being that since they would otherwise report information that would hurt America's image they cannot be allowed to live - isn't a bombshell of the highest order, then your importance-meter needs recalibration. If true, this would be more scandalous than the already-scandalous Abu Ghraib by orders of magnitude.

Furthermore, consider who is making these accusations (assuming that the video/transcript bears this out). This isn't some crackpot like Justin Raimondo, it's Eason Jordan, the head of the news division at CNN. He speaks with a large amount of implied credibility, whether justified or not, due simply to the position he holds. And he's made accusations similar to this before. And he did so in front of an audience he had to know was predisposed to believe the worst about the American military.

If Jordan has been misintepreted, then he is due an apology (though his previous statements on the matter are still open to serious question). But if he has not, it is either disingenuous or bizarrely untethered from judgment to claim that this isn't a very important news story.

Posted by: Jeff B. at February 6, 2005 12:03 PM | Permalink

But if he has not, it is either disingenuous or bizarrely untethered from judgment to claim that this isn't a very important news story.

no its not. Its a game of "gotcha" being played by the right wing.....

where was all the attention of the right-wing when Jordan talked about how he knew journalists who had been abducted and tortured by the US?

It is quite clear from the original account of what happened that Jordan immediately backpedalled when challenged on this---so what is the big deal here? Why are people more concerned about a claim that Jordan backed off of rather than a claim (abduction and torture of journalists) that he is not backing off from?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 6, 2005 12:14 PM | Permalink

Count me among those who is having trouble seeing the news here. A business executive says something stupid off the cuff, immediately backtracks, then issues multiple statements trying to clarify what he really meant. Yes, it does reflect on his competence, but is there any reason why I should care whether a CNN executive is competent? Please, somebody, explain why this is more important in the world of media coverage than, say, the fact that Lee Enterprises just swallowed Pulitzer Inc., thereby taking another big bite out of independent journalism in America.

Posted by: David Crisp at February 6, 2005 12:18 PM | Permalink

David Crisp, the point is that it's NOT "off the cuff." He's made this argument many times. It's only now that much attention has focused on it.

Furthermore, it is intensely irresponsible to traffick in such accusations in front of an audience which will a.) be strongly inclined to believe them; b.) will then possibly alter the tone of their news coverage to reflect that.

Posted by: Jeff B. at February 6, 2005 3:26 PM | Permalink

David Crisp, the point is that it's NOT "off the cuff." He's made this argument many times. It's only now that much attention has focused on it.

the real question is why the media hasn't made an issue of the basis for his accusations --- the detention and torture of Muslim/Arab journalists. Indeed, the US had held one al Jazeera cameraman for three years at Guantanamo, and will neither release him, nor explain why he is being held.

So now Jordan comes along, and slightly exaggerates a situation where a dozen journalists have been killed by US forces, and scores of Arab/Muslim journalists have been arrested, detained, and a few have even been tortured.

But there is no outrage at this targeting of journalists who present a side of the war that Bushco doesn't like. The only outrage comes when someone makes an exaggerated claim based on the evidence (then retracts it when challenged).

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 6, 2005 3:50 PM | Permalink

You just can't make this stuff up! Lying about the US military murdering (what else could you call it?) journalists is just a part of that ol' boogyman, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Further, as we saw when Jennings and Brokaw circled the wagons around their comrade Dan Rather, journalist standards are also a part of the VRWC. I agree! The press should be allowed to just make sh!t up without consequence-----the Reality Base Community demands it.

Posted by: paladin at February 6, 2005 4:15 PM | Permalink

The press should be allowed to just make sh!t up without consequence-----the Reality Base Community demands it.

no, the reality-based community demands a retraction when something is made up, and Jordan provided one immediately upon being challenged.

Meanwhile, we have a president who lied through his teeth, resulting in the death of 1400 (and counting) Americans....and the wingnuts don't have a problem with it.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 6, 2005 6:22 PM | Permalink

I think one difference between the case of the general and the case of Jordan is that WE KNOW THE FUCK WHAT THE GENERAL SAID!
God, you morons are obtuse. Until there's an accurate transcription, there's no point in flogging the story.
By the way, someone mentioned an article by Jack Kelly. I believe that is the name of the USA Today reporter who was fired after a 20 year history of fabricating stories was uncovered.
It was kind of like the Jayson Blair story, except, um, Kelly was a white evangelical christian so it wasn't news.

Posted by: marky at February 6, 2005 8:58 PM | Permalink

I well understand why journalists are concerned about the possibility that journalists may be targeted by US soldiers. We already know lots of 'bad guys' in conflicts target them, and the idea that the 'good guys' are doing it also is worrisome.

But Eason Jordan's really not in a position to know for certain unless he saw it occurring or has evidence to support his position.

If what he meant was to say Central Comman knew journalists were at the hotel, it only becomes a story if there's evidence central command ordered fire to be directed that way.

So there's nothing wrong with reporting a breaking story, nor indicating you're not passing judgment till you can fully be certain what was said. Jay's approach is exactly right. Warbloggers are the ones jumping to conclusions and passing condemnations before all the facts are in. They view any critic of any war event to be a traitor, but they are acting like precogs passing sentence so soon.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at February 6, 2005 11:48 PM | Permalink


That is a good point. I would have gone with the standard WTF the General said formulation, but hey, that's just me.

We all knew exactly what the General said. We all knew it inside of 24 hours. So why do we STILL not know what Jordan said? There is video. And it apparently isn't that hard to find...a single email request got it in the snailmail to a blogger as we speak. Are we supposed to believe that in a full week that no one in the whole of the media, especially CNN, managed to get that video? What happened? Did the dispatch rider's horse go lame? Have all the comsats fallen out of the sky?

It apparently caused a commotion right then and there in the room when it happened. And it isn't like there wasn't a journalist at the WEF. If nothing else Barney Frank defending the reputation of our military is a news story. Scores of journalists went to the WEF looking for a news story, this slaps them in the face, and disappears down the memory hole. Keep in mind no one outside that room would have heard anything at all about this except for a blogger.

I think with a fair degree of certainty we can say that if the video exonerated Jordan's comments, it would have been somewhere on CNN's website days ago. Given the eyewitness reports, we may not have an exact transcript of what Jordan said, but we have pretty good support that he crossed the line. And not by a little bit. And in fairness, after a while he realized he was way over the line and tried to run back.

There are two stories here. What exactly Jordan said and how bad it is or isn't. And why we don't know what he said a week later.

For all those who are still in 'wait and see' mode a week later, when (and if) the video shows Jordan making some pretty slanderous (and because of his position and forum, newsworthy) accusations about our military, how do you explain it taking a week to surface other than deliberate media blackout?

Posted by: Blanknoone at February 6, 2005 11:59 PM | Permalink

"He's made this argument many times. It's only now that much attention has focused on it."

and the attention is not being focussed on the argument he has made in the past (the fact that journalists who do not toe the US line are being targetted for harrassment, detention, and likely torture) but on the fact that he made the argument in the same breath as noting that 12 journalists have been killed by coalition forces.

This is a game of "gotcha", and nothing more. If there was genuine concern over the treatment of journalists, the emphasis would not be on the statement about the killing, but on the various allegations of targetting non-compliant journalists.

"If what he meant was to say Central Comman knew journalists were at the hotel, it only becomes a story if there's evidence central command ordered fire to be directed that way."

There is compelling evidence that CentCom is complicit in the attack on the Palestine Hotel (their explanation---that US troops were being fired upon from the hotel---has been shown to be false by video that was shot on that day.) There is also the rather remarkable "coincidence" that on the same day that the Palestine Hotel was attacked, two Arab TV stations that the US knew the exact coordinates of were bombed. And all of this occurred on the same day that the US staged the pulling down of Saddam's statue.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 7, 2005 4:34 AM | Permalink

"Mr. Jordan also apologized for CNN broadcasting Saddam's propaganda, in order to get the internal local access. In other words, CNN was trusted by viewers because it was local, but was local because it feeding out half-truths, and accepting Saddam's censorship -- CNN was LYING to the viewers. And advertisers."

which strongly suggests that Jordan is not providing full coverage of what is happening in Iraq---not showing the bodies of women and children blown to bits by US forces, for example---in order to maintain access.

We certainly know that if you have a television station, and you show graphic pictures of the death and destruction being wrought by the USA, that you will not be allowed to report from Iraq any longer.

So its highly likely, given what we can determine from other sources, that its "feeding out half-truths, and accepting" Bush's "censorship -- CNN [is] LYING to the viewers. And advertisers."

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 7, 2005 4:41 AM | Permalink

Paul Lukasiak, I understand your frustration here. After your work and that of Bill Bennett was discredited in Rathergate, it must be frustrating for you to see another incident like this.

That said, asserting things without proof isn't going to advance your credibility here or elsewhere.

Posted by: Robin Burk at February 7, 2005 9:01 AM | Permalink

Jordan and Richard Sambrook of the BBC are trying to weasel their way out of this by use of "targeting" to mean not the intentional killing of someone due to who he is but the shooting of an individual who is in the shooter's gunsights. Most people, upon hearing of a "targeted" killing, would think in terms of a concerted effort by the killer to track a particular individual, to seek him out among others, to kill him precisely for who he is. Oswald targeted JFK. The Red Brigades targeted Aldo Moro and other Italian public figures.

Sambrook in his response to Jay glides over the crucial issue of whether the soldier knew that the target of his shooting was a journalist:
"They [the journalists] had been deliberately killed as individuals-- perhaps because they were mistaken for insurgents, we don't know. However the distinction he was seeking to make is that being shot by a sniper, or fired at directly is very different from being, for example, accidentally killed by an explosion."

OK, they're different. But the core difference is not the efficiency and precision of the killing method but the intent of the soldier-- to repel a threat to his comrades or to dispatch a journalist-- and his awareness of the professional status of the person he killed.

Of course snipers shoot "deliberately." Their form of killing is by definition deliberate. By playing this semantic game Sambrook is avoiding the crucial question of whether US soldiers and their commanders prior to engaging in combat identified journalists as legitimate quarries and then intentionally sought out those quarries in order to kill them. Sambrook knows his game here: he is trying to assert, without saying so, that the sniper who kills a journalist intended to kill his victim because the man was a journalist. Intent is of course enormously difficult to prove, so the only possible way that Sambrook can be correct here would be if the sniper had reasonable certainty that the person in his gunsights was a journalist.

But Sambrook offers no evidence of such knowledge. Neither are we given to believe that the journalists killed were either segregated from the enemy combatants-- certainly not the case in the Baghdad Hotel incident, as tragic as it was-- or else clearly marked as journalists to all concerned. The latter seems extremely unlikely, given the terrorists' penchant for kidnapping and hacking the heads off of foreigners. Are there really any foreign journalists in Iraq who wish to advertise that fact?

Sambrook and Jordan are playing a very dangerous semantic game here. We all know what targeting means. If they have evidence of intent and awareness on the part of US soldiers that they were killing journalists and not enemy combatants then they must bring it forth.

Posted by: thibaud [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2005 3:09 PM | Permalink

The doublespeak is especially slimy because when the word "targeted" is translated into arabic, or french or german, there will be no semantic wiggle room in the translation. "Assassines" will be le mot choisi

Posted by: thibaud [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2005 3:18 PM | Permalink

At the end of the day, Eason's comments and CNN's reaction are incompetent. As president of a major news organization CNN has lost credibility in a lot of people's eye's.

It does not matter whether one thinks he is right or wrong in his statements, or even if has proof. What matters is whether his statements and CNN's reaction will affect its prestige, viewership and advertising dollars.

As president of a news organization, the long term value of the brand of CNN should be of his utmost concern. If he is willing to make statements (either planned or off-the-cuff) that affect that value then ramifications should follow. If they don't, the management of CNN gets what they deserve.

Posted by: xutag77 [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2005 3:19 PM | Permalink

From the Intro