February 7, 2005
Richard Sambrook of the BBC: What Eason Jordan Said in Davos
"This culture of 'closing ranks' coupled with hostile comments about the media from senior politicians and others, has led some in the media community (not necessarily Eason or myself) to believe the military are careless as to whether journalists are killed or not."
New at PressThink (Feb. 10): Blog Storm Troopers or Pack Journalism at its Best?
Richard Sambrook (bio) is Director of BBC World Service and Global News. He was part of the panel discussion at Davos that has become the focus of so much attention from bloggers. See PressThink, Weekend Note on Eason Jordan, for background.
Joining Sambrook on the panel were U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, Abdullah Abdullah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, and Eason Jordan, Chief News Executive of CNN. David Gergen of Harvard’s Kennedy School and US News was the moderator. I wrote to Sambrook, told him of the controversy among some bloggers about Jordan’s comments, and asked him what happened on the panel. In particular, I asked whether the original account by Rony Abovitz was accurate. This is his reply in full.
Statement of Richard Sambrook
Director of BBC World Service and Global News
Eason’s comments were a reaction to a statement that journalists killed in Iraq amounted to “collateral damage”. His point was that many of these journalists (and indeed civilians) killed in Iraq were not accidental victims—as suggested by the terms “collateral damage”—but had been “targeted”, for example by snipers.
He clarified this comment to say he did not believe they were targeted because they were journalists, although there are others in the media community who do hold that view (personally, I don’t). They 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.
Some in the audience, and Barney Frank on the panel, took him to mean US troops had deliberately set out to kill journalists. That is not what he meant or, in my view, said; and he clarified his comment a number of times to ensure people did not misunderstand him. However, they seem to have done so.
A second point he made, which in my view is extremely important, is that when journalists have been killed by the military in conflict it has been almost impossible to have an open inquiry or any accountability for the death on behalf of families, friends or employers. Very little information is released, we know investigations do take place but the results are not passed on.
This culture of “closing ranks” coupled with hostile comments about the media from senior politicians and others, has led some in the media community (not necessarily Eason or myself) to believe the military are careless as to whether journalists are killed or not and to no longer respect the traditional right to report.
As yet, for example, there has been no adequate explanation for the attack on the media hotel in Baghdad, the Palestine, which killed one Ukrainian Reuters cameraman and one cameraman for Spanish TV in 2003. The US tank commander suggested he had come under sniper fire from the building. That is now clearly not the case; it was well known, including in the Pentagon, that the Palestine was used by the media and yet it was attacked directly and purposely. Why? An absence of explanation unhelpfully feeds suspicion in some quarters.
More than sixty journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since march 2003. Reporting from conflict zones appears to be more dangerous than ever. Check these reports from NewsSafety and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
I am leading an international committee of inquiry into the reasons for the major increase in journalist fatalities around the world. It will make recommendations for improving safety and reducing risk and possibly suggest some changes to international law which ensure that when journalists are killed we can get a proper and open investigation and sense of accountability.
Finally, some people say, if it’s so dangerous don’t go. I’m afraid I believe that bearing witness, first hand reporting from wars, is a fundamental duty of news organisations. We need to do all we can to ensure we can continue to bear witness, but to do so without carelessly losing lives.
: Notes, reactions & links…
UPDATE, Feb. 8: Howard Kurtz, who hosts a show on CNN, publishes an account in the Washington Post: Eason Jordan, Quote, Unquote. “CNN News Chief Clarifies His Comments on Iraq.”
What CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan said, or didn’t say, in Davos, Switzerland, last month has become a burgeoning controversy among bloggers and media critics.
In it, Barney Frank is more critical of Jordan and David Gergen is more sympathetic. Read the rest.
Mickey Kaus reacts in Slate (a Washington Post property): “…let’s just say that if a p.r. agent or damage control spinner produced a piece designed to try and save CNN exec Eason Jordan’s job, it would be the piece Kurtz wrote in the Post today.”
Joe Gandelman is critical of Howard Kurtz: “coupled with his delayed reporting on this raging controversy now leaves him looking like his CNN boss’ p.r. person and as if he balked on this story. And parts [sound] like the corporate stories newspapers officially put out when they assign an in-house reporter to report on a dismissed columnist, or to explain a major controversy over an error.”
Jude Nagurney Camwell at the American Street is critical of “those who are hot on Eason’s trail.”
I don’t think Eason Jordan should be professionally crucified for what we can liken to a motherly nature when discussing a delicate matter (out of the public eye, for the most part - the Jan. 27 Davos session was supposed to be off the record).
Those who are hot on Eason’s trail are only those who wish to inflict some political damage on the few in the mainstream media who still possess extreme courage of conviction. This is not a case of Dan Rather using fake documents. This seems to be more of a case where a professional journalist has called, in his own fumbling way, for better judgement and a higher degree of care and liability on the part of U.S. military in choosing their targets.
Read it. Her voice matters.
Jim Geraghty replies to Camwell. (And Camwell replies to Geraghty.) See also his Would Journalists Accept this Stonewalling From Any Other Industry?
“The dog has barked and, without the videotape, the caravan has moved on.” Gerard Van der Leun at American Digest says it’s over and Jordan won.
The New York Sun also chimes in (Feb. 8). Its article has a new fact— this:
The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, who covered the panel for his paper, told the Sun that after the panel concluded, Mr. Jordan was surrounded by European and Middle Eastern attendees who warmly congratulated him for his alleged “bravery and candor” in discussing the matter.
Mr. Stephens broke the news of Mr. Jordan’s statements for his paper’s “political diary” blog.
The Wall Street Journal broke the story? If Stephens did break the story then he may also have broken the ground rules set by the World Economic Forum. UPDATE: LeShawn Barber has the text, sent to her by a reader. It raises a lot of questions. First of all, the Journal did violate the rules the WEF is now invoking. But with bloggers running around trying to collect first hand accounts, and journalists who were there saying, “I don’t have detailed notes,” why does Stephens, who obviously had notes, remain silent? With the blog world heating up, why does the Journal’s editorial page not breathe a word? Odd.
Instapundit has links to bloggers’ reactions.
The Forum has now decided not to release a tape or transcript, on the grounds that the session was held under rules preventing participants from being quoted directly. See Sisyphus, here and here; Rebecca MacKinnon’s correspondence with a WEF official.
Mark Jurkowitz in the Boston Globe (Feb. 8):
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization based in New York, says nine journalists and at least two media support workers have been killed by fire from US forces in Iraq, according to the organization’s Middle East program coordinator, Joel Campagna. Campagna said that the group has not concluded that any deaths resulted from deliberate targeting of journalists but that some cases raised issues of ”fire discipline and indiscriminate fire.”
Stephen Silver: “I have great respect for the blog phenomenon and am proud to be a part of it. And I’ve certainly been known to occasionally criticize—or downright tear apart—examples of bad journalism that have appeared in ‘MSM’ newspapers and magazines. But the blanket denunciations of ‘MSM’ have mushroomed to the point of absurdity.”
Also listen to my On the Media interview about the rise of the term, MSM. And Matt Welch in Reason, Biased about Bias: “The hunt for ideology becomes an ideology.”
This is also about the speed of news. Back in the day of the news gatekeepers — now long gone, whether they know it or not — journalists could take their time reporting a story, for news wasn’t news until they said it was. And that wasn’t all bad: It allowed journalists to check facts, call sources, get it right. But news got faster. All in all, that’s good; we’re informed faster… You can’t take your sweet time reporting a story anymore, for the citizens will get ahead of you even without your resources and access.
Blogger Michelle Malkin speaks to Congressman Barney Frank (Feb. 7):
Rep. Frank said Jordan did assert that there was deliberate targeting of journalists by the U.S. military. After Jordan made the statement, Rep. Frank said he immediately “expressed deep skepticism.” Jordan backed off (slightly), Rep. Frank said, “explaining that he wasn’t saying it was the policy of the American military to target journalists, but that there may have been individual cases where they were targeted by younger personnel who were not properly disciplined.”
Captain’s Quarters has a skeptical reply to my post, but adds, “At least Sambrook spoke up, something so many others appear loathe to do.”
Michelle Malkin talks to David Gergen (Feb. 7):
Gergen confirmed that Eason Jordan did in fact initially assert that journalists in Iraq had been targeted by military “on both sides.” Gergen, who has known Jordan for some 20 years, told me Jordan “realized as soon as the words had left his mouth that he had gone too far” and “walked himself back.” Gergen said as soon as he heard the assertion that journalists had been deliberately targeted, “I was startled. It’s contrary to history, which is so far the other way. Our troops have gone out of their way to protect and rescue journalists.”
Posted by Jay Rosen at February 7, 2005 8:59 AM
Sambrook's semantic contortions are worthy of Arafat. Yes, yes, snipers use gunsights, and through the crosshairs they distinguish individuals whom they, very "deliberately", then kill. This is all beside the point. The use of the word "targeted" can only imply an accusation of intentional killing of someone for who he is. The target is a quarry identified in advance and sought out, tracked, and then executed. 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. I love the weasel words "as individuals." Of course snipers shoot individual combatants. The question is whether they knew those indivudals were combatants or journalists.
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?
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.
Geez, Louise. I'm beginning to wonder if the video will resolve or inflame this now that so much time has gone by.
We now have Rony's account, Rebecca's account, Frank's account, Dodd's account, Gergen's account, Sambrook's account and Jordan's emails.
We've already visualized what's on the tape. At this point, the tape will be dissected for the parts that confirm our version or deny the other guy's.
Jordan interests me NOT.
Journalists that think the military is targeting them, whether it is based in reality or not, interest me.
Journalists that think the US military isn't doing enough to 'shoot around' unembedded journalists on the battlefield interest me.
Unembedded journalists that think it should not be problematic to point binoculars and shoulder mounted cameras at the muzzle end of tanks and infantrymen in combat interest me.
Journalists that speak in idealistic terms about covering the war as a fundamental duty of news organisations without mentioning the commericial motivations, the temptations of career advancement, fame and fortune, interest me.
Driving Mr. Sambrook away, that doesn't interest me at all.
I appreciate Mr. Sambrook taking the time to respond publicly on a controversial topic. He didn't have to do that. He went a further step, and commented here - a part of the conversation. Why are his comments, along with the others in attendence, interesting? Because we (still) don't have the video.
Why do we have to choose, Jay? Some of us may want Sambrook fired, and/or Jordan fired, and some of us may want more "dialogue".
The press is the "fourth estate" of gov't -- but is NEVER covered, by the press, as if the individuals have decision making power over what is said or not.
It's not like Bush ("lied" about WMDs), it's like Trent Lott. Jordan, AND Sambrook, and even Mr. Jay Rosen, are all playing at 4th estate politics.
Your beloved MSM Contraption is broken. Either Jordan answers the questions of what he said, AND what he meant, AND what he meant earlier (US military tortures journalists), AND how reliable he is (he already admitted CNN only broadcast news Saddam approved up -- for access/ money/ ratings, NOT truth) (his admission nearly ignored by MSM).
Or he stonewalls, and others who heard him are reported on (yes, reports from the blogosphere -- MSM lost its censorship.), and he becomes guilty until the videotape shows otherwise. But, if he IS guilty (as I now believe), the videotape will only show it.
So then what? CNN should fire Jordan.
With or without the videotape, CNN should fire Jordan (Trent Lott lost his chairmanship for much, much, less.)
AND the BBC should fire Sambrook.
Not for talking with blogs -- for lying INSTEAD of being honest, while representing their news organizations and being charged with increasing trust.
You, Jay, should be on the side of revolution and transparency and truth. Resign or show the videotape (first?). You're having personal conflicts because you know the Contraption is broken, but you love the idea of an MSM that is honest.
The Rathers, Jordans (?), and ALL top TV news anchors get paid MUCH more than the US president (seldom mentioned, why is that?); they should get the same scrutiny. As individuals.
You know about Public Choice Theory? (J. Buchannan won a Nobel Prize in Economics for it.) It covers the individual incentives of gov't decision makers, and how they mostly make decisions based on those incentives.
We need a Media Choice Theory that would show how media personal ALSO make decisions on what they say, and not; and what stories they cover & publish, or not.
Right now, the MSM blackout on Jordan's lies are pretty damning.
If we're talking about authority and gatekeeping, then let's examine the military and the political leadership as actors in the saga of the fourth estate as well, each with their own claim on authority and responsibilities to it as well. And let's examine the responsibility of the commenters on this thread, as well, as Mark Anderson does.
I'm a partisan left-wing blogger, and we've been pretty 'absent' from this controversy. We've never really bought into the whole 'MSM is evil' meme floating around here, though our frustrations with the MSM are as great as anyone else's. We just don't think they do a very good job at this point (which is not an inherent state), but we still recognize their necessity in the overall system of accountability in a democracy.
Anyway, to the notion of authority and responsibility, which I guess equals trust. For my money, trust seems to be constructed via a mixture of sound judgment, willingness to examine one's own assumptions and admit wrongdoing, and wide knowledge and appreciation of a diverse set of facts.
The MSM in general doesn't have an address, but to the extent that is one total entity, it often doesn't seek as wide a spectrum of facts as possible, and is influenced improperly by the screams of bias and by silly notions of how to structure its final product. Eason's claims probably demand more explanation, but this is not because of some political bias, but because journalists' being killed is not a well-known story, and it seems to be a very important one in the context of a war in which information and control of information is critical.
As for the military leadership and the political leadership, well, they kind of blew their credibility by openly and repeatedly lying about their intentions, capabilities, and actions, everything from the number of troops necessary to the reasons for war to the current budget to the glorious inaugural speech which seemed to but did not indicate any shift in policy. To the extent that they must be listened to, it is only to decipher how their words match their intentions. Literalist interpretations of the political or military leaderships' words are at this point just indicative of poor judgment on the part of the reader.
Finally, to the question of authority and responsibility of those on this thread. It's not clear to me how much intentionality matters, but there is a witchhunt tone going on here which seems to override a quest to 'know'. I have seen this before. I would assume that such a tonality, combined with the legacy of misinformation and ideological demands of right-wing punditry on the web and on TV, would strip many of the questioners here of any semblence of good faith.
For instance, you could look at the current spat between Juan Cole and Jonah Goldberg as another and seemingly more relevant discussion of what the MSM actually is, who is in it, and what kind of authority those who criticize from the right are actually demanding. I tend to think that's an important ground for criticism and examination as well. How did so many who know nothing about the Middle East become credible quasi-journalistic spokesmen about the region and what we should be doing there?
Beau... we may be in the process of an agonizing, decade-long proof that open comments are basically not viable. There are too many who would exploit them and waste our time. Too many who find in the thrill of destruction their "kick" online.
The city will be rid of rats sooner than the Internet will be free of trolls.
I don't have great hopes for these threads for that reason. I see them as temporarily, sometimes suddenly and weirdly capable of spontaneous and real dialogue, and constantly vulnerable to... well, to anyone. All the time.
It's one of the strange things about comment threads. They all die. In a sense each one is killed by the participants, but death can take place early or late in the thread.
If you have one great exchange, and it illuminates something for you, then right there you beat the odds. We beat the odds here often enough, but it's a tiny force. Just as e-mail is every year composed of more and more unwanted communication, so, I fear, comments will become.
Ungated may be a great thing. It may be the thing we want, the thing we celebrate. (I have certainly done my share of that.) Doesn't mean it works in an actual human situation, a concrete setting.
To turn on the comment feature is basically to say, "Okay, I'm going to run a tragedy of the commons case study here at my site." And that is what I feel I am doing. It's sorta like the laws of the casino. But in this case the house always loses.
When Richard Sambrook says, "Jay - You'll understand next time you invite me to give an honest view on here I may think twice," PressThink loses. Perhaps he is wrong to feel that way; an argument can be made. It's sustainable. But still it is a loss.
And I feel there is value sometimes in my "academic" interventions. For example: Trying to strike a neutral chord in a blog storm is bound to sound absurd, and it's not going to convert many of those who are caught up in the story. As a gesture, it is is almost comically ineffective.
But if you think of it more like a neutral color that allows the deep hue and tone of another color to come through, because one "offsets" the other, then it makes some sense to do it that way.
PressThink says: This is important; let's stay neutral until we learn more.
The Left commentariat says: This is not important. The Right says it is, though. Fits a larger agenda. If you agree it's possibly a story, then you must be down "with" them. And what are you doing with them?
Neutral is fine. "Important" is suspect.
The Right says: Damn right what Eason Jordan said is important. Neutral? Good lord, Jay, what else do you need? How much clearer can it be? It's obvious that yadda wadda we. It's obvious that yadda wadda why.
Important is fine. Neutral is suspect.
Jay - I appreciate your efforts at neutrality, as you put it, and agree completely that the signal-to-noise ratio found in blog comment threads is almost always very low.
However, there are two legitimate issues raised there that have nothing whatsoever to do with partisanship. (For the record, I'm a prowar Democrat; I don't care for Fox and find Juan Cole and Jonah Goldberg equally ludicrous).
The first issue is how a news organization that seeks to expand its appeal to an entirely different audience, such as the arabs, from its core audience can resist the temptation to spin its coverage in ways that accord with the urban legends and myths believed by the new target audience. This is directly relevant to the Davos incident in which Jordan made an assertion that pleased his arab and European audience while dismaying his American audience. It's a big issue and will only become bigger as US news organizations such as CNN seek new markets in Asia and the Middle East, not to mention Europe.
The second issue is the degree of disclosure and transparency expected of media execs, editors, and publishers when they come under public scrutiny. The NYTimes was quite candid and thorough in its treatment of the Raines-Blair mischief; CBS demonstrably less so in the Rather affair.
Here Mr Sambrooke gets high marks for making an effort to address the issue, but low marks for dodging the first issue, raised above, and for bundling his response with a semantic red herring. Mr Jordan has yet to come forth, to my knowledge, to anyone other than a media critic at the Post.
If I'm wrong on Jordan, then I'd be glad to see links to his public statements, particularly if you have links to reports from european or arab media.
OTOH if my suspicion is correct, then we can expect our large media organizations increasingly to find ways to tailor their coverage to various audiences: one message for the US audience, another for the European and arab audiences, perhaps yet another for the Asian audience.
[Jordan describes] CNN International as a supra-national player, synthesizing in its offices scattered worldwide a kind of World Journalism or global professionalism in news that, in Jordan's vision, transcends the bias of any one nation, and certainly of the 'base' country."
1) Is there such thing?
2) What are the consequences of a news executive believing it?
1) No, there is no such thing. For all the talk of globalized, homogenized culture and global citizens, the only professions from which all taint of cultural bias and parochial attachment have been purged are pornography and bond trading. Certainly the porn business fits Jordan's transcendant vision of seamlessly appealing to men from all walks of life, all creeds, and all nations.
In the media biz, not even the wire services can purge judgment and selectivity from their dispatches; when you add analysis to the coverage, you add your cultural biases. For example, there is simply no way for a western news organization and a wahhabi news organization to cover women's issues to each other's mutual satisfaction.
The only way for a news organization to become globally neutral and free of any and all cultural/political bias is to become as bland as Coca-Cola. Or maybe stick to sports and entertainment only-- though even there one suspects that various biases will surface in teh coverage of, say, an entertainer who likes young boys in his harem (no problems with the Afghan market there) and takes chemicals to lighten his skin (could be a problem in other markets).
2) re. consequences of Jordan believing the mush about a global culture, I can see two immediate and harmful consequences and one potentially benign one.
On the harmful side, the notion of being enlightened global citizens appeals to the vanity of business executives who seek above all to expand their market dominance. In this sense, Jordan is deluding himself that his company's interests are somehow different from and superior to those of Citigroup or of NBC's parent entity. Even though western multinationals do have a salubrious influence on many countries where they operate, what's good for General Motors isn't necessarily what's good for the globe.
Second, the markets that Jordan seeks to enter often lack the basic legal frameworks, political safeguards, even cultural practices that can ensure press independence. As we've seen, the price of access to those who break stories will, outside the west, very often be the corruption of the product. The generally miserable, behind-the-curve coverage of Russia by western journalists stems largely from the fact that they have no sources in the only institutions that actually make things happen in that country: the security services, powerful kleptocrats and the large resource-trading semi-criminal groups.
As to benign effects, perhaps over time CNN can disperse more understanding in the non-western and non-transparent cultures of the virtues and political benefits of an open media. But the harmful consequences are likely to carry the day, IMO.
I think many of us commenting here acutally are "neutral," in the sense of jurors who suspend a final decision until all the evidence is in. And, in this case, the all-important and determinative evidence (the videotape) is not yet in. Also, since we are not actually in a court of law, we don't need to follow the strict "innocent till proven guilty rule."
So our suspension of a final judgment doesn't--and shouldn't--stop us from making preliminary judgments based on evidence we've already seen, including prior statements of the "accused." I don't think that having strong suspicions at this point that Jordan is covering up for something would be unwarranted--in fact, I think they are warranted.
As for Sambrook's participation on this comments section: I think it's great that he decided to do so. I think his responses were less than impressive, however. I think his abrupt departure was evidence of the fact that he couldn't stand the heat, and thus skedaddled from the kitchen. He does seem rather thin-skinned for a journalist, since to my way of thinking the comments here were relatively mild for a blog (or, for that matter, for a press conference--but then, for those, he's on the other side, isn't he?)
Do I think Sambrook is lying? No, I most definitely do not. It is a fact that people tend to perceive events and skew those memories based on their prior biases, and that eyewitness testimony about what has been said is notoriously poor (actually, eyewitness testimony of all types is pretty poor), partly because of this unconscious bias phenomenon. Please see my post on the subject at: http://neo-neocon.blogspot.com/2005/02/in-eye-of-beholder-sambrook-reports-on.html
And yes, Jay, I agree that often it is "by multiplication of views that something closer to the truth is obtained." But sometimes that multiplication of views only multiplies the error, if those views are based on incorrect observations and perceptions of what has occurred. That's why the tape (or transcript) is all-important here. Sometimes in "he said-she said" arguments the truth does lie somewhere in between. But sometimes the report of one of the parties turns out to be correct, and the other wrong.
In this context, it does not matter whether the Hutton report criticised Blair. (I happen to disagree with the manner of Blair's government, the weakening of the principle of caabinet discussion and responsibility.) Nor does it matter that ALL the Western intelligence agencies over-estimated Saddam's WMD capability.
In terms of TRUTHFUL JOURNALISM no-one doubts that Gilligan lied about what he had been told by Dr David Kelly. No-one has disputed the managerial failings by Richard Sambrook that Lord Hutton exposed, including the total failure to check the source or to do any cross-checking. Or, for an allegation so serious, to put the allegation to Downing Street for comment.
Hutton did not enquire about systematic bias within certain BBC programmes against the Iraq war - programmes under Sambrook's ultimate control. Sambrook had already seen Gilligan to be a loose cannon - but fought through thick and thin to defend his traducing of the Prime Minister and thereby his contradiction of the UK intelligence chiefs statements about who actually wrote the WMD dossier.
These are FACTS, not in dispute. Indeed not disputed by Mr Sambrook, you will notice, although I raised them earlier in this thread, before he left. So the points you wrote are nugatory, otiose.
Sambrook was involved in defending the traducing of his country's government. The allegation here is that Eason Jordan, according to the accounts of 5 of the 6 people present who have reported, traduced the US forces with a claim far, far worse than the Abu Ghraib shenanigans. And whatever Mr Sambrook may surmise about what Jordan "meant" - the question is what did he actually say that caused such offence among the Americans and such congratulations from the Arabs ? On this matter, Mr Sambrook looks to be very much out of step, his account is incomplete.
Oh - and if you check around the blogs, 400,000 hits so far - other CNN news executives have a record of somewhat similar claims. This is surely a very serious matter that can only be settled by the release of the Davos tapes. The specific question is what was actually said, the more general issue is whether CNN fosters anti-US feelings based on lies. "The most trusted name in news" ?
Jay - thanks again for the space here. In terms of your continuing interest in the contrast between blogsites and the "legacy media", this is developing into an interesting case study.
Gannon has been given the boot. Quite right too. Besides which, he appears to be small-fry, not a media bosscat setting policy and ethics for CNN. Can't you see the difference ?
First off, I don't see you having the same concern for Roger Ailes and his obvious biases that you express toward what Jordan may (or may not) believe.
Secondly, these are two completely different stories. One is about the possibility that someone from CNN thinks that journalists have been targeted by the American military. I would suggest to you that if Jordan had said "the US military is torturing Iraqi prisoners" a year ago, you would have been just as outraged then as you are now about these (reported) allegations.
The Gannon story is about how the White House is so deeply engaged in media manipulation that it allows a male prostitute who (apparently) prostitutes his writing as well as his ass to be credentialled under an alias, and sit within a few feet of the President of the United States.
How did "Jeff Gannon" get a security clearance, given his background, and his obvious lack of journalistic credentials?
We are supposed to have what is known as "freedom of the press" in this country, and that is why the Jordan story is a non-story. We are also not supposed to use public funds to spread political propaganda---yet when we pay Scott McClellan to avoid the questions of real journalists by calling on "Jeff Gannon", we are doing just that.
But it is good to see that even you are now saying that Jordan probably did make the allegation.
I've never said he didn't. It has always been clear, however, that he did not mean to say what he is reported (by some people) to have said.
Maybe he does believe that the military is targetting journalists. Lots of people believed--but did not report because they could not prove---that the US was torturing Iraqi prisoners before that story came out as well.
Face it, there are a whole lot more "hard facts" that suggest that the US military is targetting journalists than there were "hard facts" that Iraq had WMDs. What is important is that, even if he believes it, he can't prove it, and does not try and pretend otherwise.
lukusiak--So, let me get this straight: right-wing journalists lie, Jordan "misspeaks."
In the event that I'm ever tried for a crime, I want you on my jury, especially if I'm to the left of center in my politics. I love that word, "misspeak." Jordan is a journalist, he knows what "targeted" means, and apparently this was no slip of the tongue. According to witnesses, he went on for some time with his Davos accusations, and we know he has made similar accusations in the past.
Of course, the tape would clarify what really happened. But since it doesn't look like we'll be seeing it any time soon, There seems to be no logic in imagining that the worst Jordan was guilty of was some minor slip of the tongue.
If I said, "Person X killed person Y," without offering any evidence, and someone called me on it and I ended up saying, like Roseanna Annadanna, "Never mind," does that mean what I originally said was right, or that I was right to say it? Especially if I am someone who, like Jordan, is in a lofty position of responsibility?
Jordan should be held to a very high standard of accountability, as should every journalist, right or left, who plays fast and loose with the facts. (Well, I can dream, can't I?)