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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.

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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.

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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 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.

After Matter: 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.”

Jeff Jarvis:

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   Print

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.
Jay, please see my post here, which includes references to the Palestine Hotel investigations.

* Committee to Protect Journalists, May 27, 2003, Permission to Fire

* Reporters Without Borders, January 15, 2004, Two murders and a lie: An investigation of the US Army's firing at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad on 8 April 2003

* International Federation of Journalists, March 20, 2004, Justice for Journalists Killed in Iraq - April 8th Protest

* Committee to Protect Journalists, November 5, 2004, Army finds no fault in Palestine Hotel shelling

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2005 9:35 AM | Permalink

I want to be very clear about this. Sambrook (and others) are saying: "The US tank commander suggested he had come under sniper fire from the building."

I don't think that's accurate. BG Brooks in a briefing implied that and IMMEDIATELY corrected himself.

Things that happen in a fire fight are much more confused, and are also much slower in coming in details, because every fire fight that happens out there, obviously with the amount of combat action that occurs, we are not going to get a report on every fire fight that happens. This one is obviously an item of interest, and there's interest that's flowing in right now, so I can't characterize exactly where we've seen fire from. Any comment I made earlier was premature. And so at this point it's best for me to wait for additional information to come in.
We also have testimony from two journalists embedded with the tank's unit (Chris Tomlinson and Jules Crittenden) that were monitoring the unit's radio traffic and "on the ground" as witnesses. The tank fired ONE round to suppress observation from the hotel and end coordinated fire already coming at them.

CPJ's Permission to Fire

At about the time that Tomlinson was trying to locate the Palestine Hotel, in the late morning, one of the tank officers on the Al-Jumhuriya Bridge who was looking for the spotter radioed that he had located a person with binoculars in a building on the east side of the river. Exactly how much time lapsed between the tank officer identifying this target and the actual firing of the tank shell is not clear from Tomlinson's monitoring of the radio traffic.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2005 10:01 AM | Permalink

"Sambrook (and others) are saying: "The US tank commander suggested he had come under sniper fire from the building.I don't think that's accurate. BG Brooks in a briefing implied that and IMMEDIATELY corrected himself."

My recollection is that in the immediate aftermath of the attack sniper fire from the building was the explanation given. I am happy to be corrected. The CPJ Report is the best summary of the event that I am aware of.

Posted by: Richard Sambrook at February 7, 2005 10:36 AM | Permalink

This account is more in line with my understanding of the spirit of what Eason said. While I can see hardcore conservatives not being overjoyed with this version of Eason's opinion, it is far less displeasing than their previous interpretation of his remarks. We all need to choose are battles. Somebody needs to let the people who are calling for blood know that this one is a non-starter.

Posted by: The Liberal Avenger at February 7, 2005 12:24 PM | Permalink

Jay,I enjoy reading your blog from time to time, and I certainly am no journalist, nor do I have an opinion one way or the other on this topic.

Regardless, the first thing it brought to mind was a blurb I read in a magazine which stated that in March of 2003, while on assignment covering the war in Iraq, Geraldo Rivera was told by American military officials that he was no longer welcome to accompany U.S. soldiers. It turns out that during an on-air appearance, he'd drawn a map in the sand revealing sensitive information about U.S. troop locations. In addition, I read in another article that he was carrying a weapon with intent on using it against the enemy prior to being asked to leave the country by the military.

Granted, Rivera is a sensational journalist, but if this information is true, and assuming American troops have access to US news reports, I can see how troops would have animosity toward other reporters, after the ludicrous actions of Rivera.

Posted by: Paul at February 7, 2005 12:28 PM | Permalink

There is a significant error in the CPJ report linked here. The report states:
"According to Tomlinson, the round that was fired was a heat round, an incendiary shell that is intended to kill people and not destroy buildings. If the tank had fired an armor-piercing round, the damage to the building would have been much more severe." This is completely inaccurate. A HEAT round is an explosive anti-tank munition, not an incendiary, and is extremely useful at destroying (small) buildings. It is used on personnel because the primary anti-tank round is basically a big metal dart that doesn't explode and would likely just have passed right through the building making a hole a few inches wide on the way. This information is basic knowledge and is readily available for fact checking purposes on the web. Moreover, Tomlinson, with his 7 years of military services is unlikely to make such a mistake. So either Tomlinson is misquoted, or he doesn?t know what he is talking about, or the CPJ writers are making baseless speculations. And the CPJ writers didn?t bother to do any basic fact checking to confirm what they were saying was accurate.

Mr. Sambrook, if the report is this sloppy with this one piece of information, why should we believe it is any more accurate in the rest of its particulars?

Posted by: Chris Sandvick at February 7, 2005 12:39 PM | Permalink

It's interesting, and irionic, that Sambrook mentions "this culture of closing ranks" and the lack of response of the military to journalists questions.

Gee, that sounds eerily like Gerard van der Leun's theory of why journalists close rank to protect members of their own profession, not to mention the telling lack of response of CNN and others in the media to questions about this whole affair.

But, of course, the media, rather notoriously, doesn't hold itself to the same standards that it insists others hold. It's own foibles are always excusable one way or another. Especially if it never looks too hard at them to begin with.

Posted by: alcibiades at February 7, 2005 12:48 PM | Permalink

None of this, while interesting, has anything to do with the root issue: why have the mainstream media ignored Jordan's provocative comments? Parse the comments all you like, after a full airing of them by the mainstream media.

Posted by: The Dread Pundit Bluto [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2005 1:23 PM | Permalink

Mr. Sambrook: Thanks for providing the statement and answering some questions. I have two.

Would you object to the Davos organizers making the videotape of the panel available?

And I would also appreciate your reaction to Mr. Jordan;s comments made late last year, as quoted in The Guardian on November 19, 2004:

"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.

Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at February 7, 2005 1:47 PM | Permalink

Richard Sambrooke's linguistic hairsplittings (and Eason Jordan's, as well) on the meaning of "collateral damage" vs. "targeted" are an absurdity. (See for a discussion of this.) So his apologia quoted here makes no sense, even if taken at face value. But of course this war is about far, far more than words.

Posted by: neo-neocon [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2005 1:48 PM | Permalink

If the press has an adversarial relationship with the military it's because they've earned it with decades of concerted effort. Our soldiers have every reason to believe that journalists don't care how many of them they get killed. Their holy calling is more important than any consequences. It doesn't matter what intelligence is broadcast worldwide. It doesn't matter that the enemy is encouraged to fight harder and longer. And all of this while having a sense of entitlement to protection and special treatment.

So a journalist gets sent to the back of the line at a check point and it's evidence that the US military is out to 'get' journalists? Did anyone ever think that maybe it was an issue of respect for the citizens who'd been patiently waiting to get through? Who deserves better treatment? And how many good-will points did that young soldier earn with the locals by what he did?

Posted by: Synova at February 7, 2005 2:04 PM | Permalink

The full Army report, with statements and map is linked from the Committee to Protect Journalists, November 5, 2004, Army finds no fault in Palestine Hotel shelling

Posted by: Sisyphus at February 7, 2005 2:15 PM | Permalink

It is not at all surprising we are hearing this from the media cartel. For some reason, they have what is a mistaken belief they are in some way special. In some cases, this feeling of being special ends up costing them their lives.

I would dare say most of the media who have died have been opposite US and collation forces in Iraq. In other words they have been in the target area. This is an area not controlled by the allies. Should a person in this area be hit, and probably hit from long range, even by a sniper, one cannot be sure until such time as the area is secured and the body recovered just who the person was. As far as conducting an investigation, I am sure those who could provide the most information about a particular incident are either gone or are dead by the time the area is secured.

What are you going to ask the sniper? Did you see a target? Was the target in the area from where we were receiving fire? Did you hit the target? [a press badge is very difficult to see at 800 meters, even at 400 meters]

This war, unlike previous wars involving the US, the idea of having media from your own side embedded with the enemy is a bit bazaar and needless to say dangerous.

Posted by: Joe at February 7, 2005 2:29 PM | Permalink

What doesn't smell right is the off-handed way Jordan dropped this bombshell. If it is true, why not do an investigative report?

Or has that genre been irretrievably tainted by CBS?

Posted by: AST at February 7, 2005 3:05 PM | Permalink

I really like this website as a neutral ground for reporters and their bosses to respond to the blogosphere. Jay is fair and thorough and he understands both worlds, as much as anybody can this early on in blogging history.

The comments section is and always will be rough and tumble, but Jay generally makes sure that the discussion begin in a fair exposition of all sides.

This is what journalism should be.

Posted by: AST at February 7, 2005 3:11 PM | Permalink

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.

Posted by: thibaud [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2005 3:40 PM | Permalink

Mr. Jordan has not responded to Rep. Franks request for examples because his report is bogus. Our military never targets civilians or reporters. The USA’s military protects and serves its country. Mr. Jordan should be thankful some of that protection is for him, even though he downgrades our military. We all know that this character Jordan is severely deranged.

God Bless our President, and
God Bless our Troops

Posted by: Auggysblog at February 7, 2005 3:44 PM | Permalink

Fake... but accurate!

Targeted... but not marked for slaughter!

Deliberate... but not intentional!

Posted by: thibaud at February 7, 2005 4:33 PM | Permalink

Perhaps a little background on Mr Sambrook might be helpful here. Remember the big trouble at the BBC over Gilligan's false report that the British Government had "sexed-up" its published dossier on WMDs, overriding the info of its security chiefs ? At the time Sambrook led the BBC defence against the Government complaints, and continued that defence against all the contrary evidence provided directly or indirectly by UK chiefs of intelligence. The Hutton report came down heavily agaoinst the BBC, and in the course of the report it transpired that sambrook had not taken the elementary precaution of checking Gilligan's notes. Some people were surprised that Sambrook himself did not resign, along with the Chirman and Director General of the BBC. He has subsequently been "moved sideways".

I would take anything Mr Sambrook says with a very large pinch of salt.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 7, 2005 5:21 PM | Permalink

Here is a Guardian article summarising the criticisms of Sambrook by Lord Hutton's enquiry into the Gilligan affair.,13747,1133221,00.html

But you would have to read the letters Sambrook wrote to Downing Street, published with the Hutton evidence, to get a full flavour of the vehemence of Sambrook's refusal to listen to the complaints about Gilligan's unfounded attack on the integrity of the UK Government. More here :

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 7, 2005 5:51 PM | Permalink

Mr Sambrook,
Despite what you say, I find it hard to believe that *this* time Mr Jordan was so careful in his language.

He has previously (and quite recently) claimed that US forces had "arrested and tortured" journalists.


It defies belief that he would say *that* last November but last week speak as you claim. I do not believe you.

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

Senator Dodd has now confirmed that Jordan really did make those allegations. Sede the Michelle Malkin site.

That casts very serious doubt on the veracity of Sambrook's statement. That is - the CONSIDERED statement by the man who is effective head of the BBC's world news services, and who was on the panel at Davos. The real story now is COVER-UP by the MSM - with Sambrook's BBC as part of it.

Posted by: JohninL:ondon at February 7, 2005 7:38 PM | Permalink

I disagree completely with that. Sambrook told you in good faith what he heard. You are almost to the point of criminalizing the normal range of differences in how people hear things that are ambiguously stated to begin with. There is no call for that.

Read up on Sambrook? Yes, that is what the Web is for, so by all means do. But must you read his statements in this case as a continuation of his actions in another? Why should he comment at all, if that is the case?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 7, 2005 7:51 PM | Permalink


I feel that Sambrook's past actions may well be relevant here. Many people have argued that the BBC had a vendetta against Blair over the Iraq war. The BBC news service led by Sambrook that was reporting that US troops were not in Baghdad when plainly they were. Subsequently Sambrook defended strenuously the outrageous allegations that Gilligan made against Blair - while failing to check Gilligan's story properly. Hence the severe criticisms of Sambrook in the Hutton report -the BBC's equivalent to Rathergate.

Of course people expect some comments from Sambrook. He is a very senior journalist, and he was on the panel of the Davos seminar. You clearly put the questions to him direct - well done for that.

But some of us will regard his statement as failing to spell out exactly what Eason Jordan said at Davos. I find much of the statement sophistry, sorry.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 7, 2005 8:26 PM | Permalink

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.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 7, 2005 8:45 PM | Permalink

Alright, well, some of you guys have to decide what you want more-- dialogue with those you call the MSM (where, for example, if a blogger asks for a statement a news executive will give a statement) or do you want the opportunity for denunciation at close range?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 7, 2005 9:02 PM | Permalink


It is the enormity of the allegation that people present say that Eason Jordan made that is causing all the fuss. And the fact that the MSM are apparently not chasing this story - in stark contrast to the wide coverage given to the Marine General's remarks the other day.

What we want is the truth of what was actually said at Davos. Which means getting the tape released. Jordan's own comments appear to directly conflict with the reports by the two journalists who originally reported, and now by David Gergen, Senator Dodd and Rep Frank. Richard Sambrook's contribution does not appear to answer the specific question - did Jordan allege that US troops had targetted and killed 12 journalists. There was a lot of ducking and weaving - but nothing as crisp as what Dodd appears to be saying.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 7, 2005 9:23 PM | Permalink

If what we want is the truth of what was actually said at Davos, then perhaps we should thank Richard Sambrook, a participant, for adding his statement of what he heard. For it is by the multiplication of views that something closer to the truth is obtained.

I didn't think he was ducking and weaving at all. Jordan said something that sounded like "U.S. targeting journalists." Jordan realized that he could be misunderstood. Jordan tried to clarify what that he meant. According to Sambrook, what happened was nothing as crisp as what Dodd appears to be saying. What happened was a bit of confusion. I have been on many panels where what a panelist said was not at all clear. You seem to regard this lack of crispness as evidence of Sambrook's will to obfuscate. To me that is unfair. Reality is usually messier than one's fighting words suggest.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 7, 2005 9:45 PM | Permalink

I'd like repeat here a point I made over at Rebecca MacKinnon's site. The issue of journalists on the battlefield will not get better in the short run, because the battlefield has changed in some fundamental ways.

It used to be the case that we more or less could identify a front line of battle and the "behind the lines" area. What we see in Iraq is what the military call the non-linear battlefield -- and that means, among other things, no clear distinction between the front lines and the rear anymore.

I am not attempting here to speak for the US military. However, I've had a chance to talk with combat veterans from Gulf 1 and 2. Traditionally, success in warfare was measured by terrain captured and enemy killed. It's a whole different ball game in Iraq because our intentions there are different. As a result, we do NOT bring the bulk of our military power to bear in most situations there -- we didn't even do so in Fallujah recently.

There are good reasons for restraint -- and by the standards of full warfare we HAVE been restrained -- but it does mean that in the coaunter-insurgency period there are places and times when our forces are open to unexpected attack from any direction.

Now add in journalists who are not embedded, including correspondents recruited, in some cases, from among the populace.

The result looks to me like an incredibly difficult situation for the military and a very frustrating and frightening one for the journalists as well. I personally have a hard time seeing why journalists don't see the difficulty here from the military's perspective. But then, I know the military and many members of our armed forces better than I know the mindset and culture of journalism -- no doubt if the situation were reversed so too would be my attitude.

I suspect the fact that many of the journalists covering the situation in Iraq appear to personally disapprove of our presence there is part of the problem, on both sides. It certainly doesn't help.

Posted by: Robin Burk at February 7, 2005 9:53 PM | Permalink

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.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 8, 2005 12:03 AM | Permalink

If John Kerry had signed Form 180, much of the controversy that swirled around his military record might have been settled back when it would have meant something. Don't let this videotape become the new Form 180. Demand that the WEF make it available to the public. We don't need to see the entire tape, just the remarks in question and any relevant context. Enough of this "she said he said/he said he said, but he didn't really mean it" BS. There are serious issues here. Please conduct yourselves accordingly.

Posted by: Kyda Sylvester at February 8, 2005 1:47 AM | Permalink

I think part of the issue many in the blogs have an issue with is that this is the second time Jordan has made a comment like this (previously he mentioned 10 Journalists being killed). If he really thinks it is the case why is CNN not investigating that...if he doesn't think it is actually happening why has he mentioned it twice now....his actions and the facts do not fit together..

Posted by: stephen at February 8, 2005 6:56 AM | Permalink


I have already thanked you for obtaining the statement from Richard Sambrook. But I am not the only one who feels that he is ducking the issue, confusing the picture. You say it is inevitable that people have different impressions of the incident. True - but it seems very convenient that Sambrook's line is defensive of Eason Jordan. Sambrook is MSM personified. Just google his name. Oh - and did he as a panel member intervene at Davos to say that there was NO deliberate targetting of journalists ? Or virtually none ? He is privy to all the BBC's info from Iraq - why did he not comment at the time, put the record straight ?

You have not commented on the point most people are making - let's see the tape, let us judge for ourselves what Jordan said at Davos. Do you want the tape released ? Are you joining in the requests for release ? And for that matter, is Eason Jordan asking for it to be released ?

Pending that, I refer to Stanley Baldwin's remark about the press, that "power without responsibility has been the prerogative of the harlot down the ages". And in the case of Sambrook and the BBC this has a special edge - many of us feel that BBC shows distinct anti-US bias, and we in Britain are forcibly taxed $200 a year to support its Guardian mindset. As a reminder - the crew of the Ark Royal in the Gulf demanded that BBC News be switched off/thrown overboard.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 8, 2005 7:30 AM | Permalink

Most of the comments on this post clearly have no interest in drawing a line between a reasonable demand for "responsible media coverage" and a "blogswarm of destruction" trained on removing from power any and all (actual or perceived) high priority ideological opponents. The former is the stalking horse of the latter.

This is a self-appointed tribunal of ideological correctness, posing as an inquiry into journalistic practice. For these people, media coverage of facts and even political opposition to Bush's policies is tantamount to treason. The premise of the comments is, "While our soldiers continue to kill you, how dare you claim that our soldiers are killing you intentionally." Isn't it remarkable how treating reporters like the enemy by shooting and killing them reinforces the conservative storyline that the press is the enemy of "democracy" (understood as totalitarian ideological orthodoxy)?

The pile of bodies from this war of "liberation" is well over 100,000 in the latest round. The fundamental premise of most of these comments is that everyone in this pile deserved to die--especially if they were opposed to the Bush administration's sorry excuse for foreign policy. The moral of the story for these people is "Don't reveal Bush's mistakes, or die. And stop whining about it."

It will be a fine and probably distant day when the killing of human beings calls forth from these people anything approaching the level of attention devoted here to reestablishing this administration and its armed forces' purity of moral intent. Purity of moral intent of an administration that signs off on torture, whether domestic or outsourced, and doesn't even bother to count the bodies it "collaterally" produces by bombing civilian targets in Iraq on a daily basis.

These calls for the head of the press executive who made this "outrageous" statement are being made by people whose fellow travelers insist that the Geneva convention should not apply to this "war" and anything goes as long as the US calls its enemy "terror." You're fair-weather ethicists, all of you.

(See my blog for a version of this post with eight supporting links.)

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 8, 2005 7:56 AM | Permalink

It would appear, on the basis on another attendee, that Sambrook himself brought up the Hotel Palestine during the Davos discussion. That does not invalidate Sambrook's comments, but it does suggest that he is not necessarily a neutral reporter with regard to what was said and what was meant.

I have to disagree with Mark Anderson. I myself called for judgement to be withheld by bloggers pending more evidence than the memories of two people, neither of whom was taking careful notes. (And I took some heat from a regular contributor to my group blog for my stance.)

At this point, however, we have nearly half a dozen reports from a variety of witnesses. And Mr. Sambrook's invocation of the Hotel Palestine incident is telling, because that case was well investigated and the results widely disbursed. By invoking that event, which occurred very early in the war during a period when the Iraqi forces had not yet disbanded, Sambrook a) rejects what I consider a fair investigation of the event and b) diverts attention from journalist deaths in places like Fallujah, where culpability is arguably more complex - and more relevant to what are likely to be more common situations in the coming years.

I repeat my earlier assertion: a large part of the problem right now is that both the bulk of the mainstream media and those who supported the war were deeply suspicious of each other well before the first shot was fired. Until that is addressed, I doubt that international conventions and demands for changes to law are going to solve the deeper problem facing the MSM -- which, I firmly believe, ultimately is a problem for us all.

I reject the notion that journalists are automatically annointed to an authoritative role in passing judgement on the structures or officials of government. I was around for Watergate and am unimpressed by the inflated sense of importance that event gave to many journalists. In my late middle age I find lots of holes in the MSM emperor's clothes.

OTOH I sure would like to have credible, fact-based reporting whose honesty and integrity I trust, which means I'd like to see serious discussion on both sides about how to make things better.

Posted by: Robin Burk at February 8, 2005 8:16 AM | Permalink

Robin Burk

Oh - so at Davos Richard Sambrook did NOT use his authority as a BBC chief to cancel ideas that the US military deliberately target journalists ? Instead - according to the post you linked to - it appears he poured more petrol on the fire by referring to the Palestine Hotel incident. An incident that had already been properly investigated and the US troops exonerated.

I think that tends to confirm how I view Jordan and Sambrook - they are peas in a pod. Singing mostly from the same songsheet of bias against the coalition's actions in Iraq. The Abu Ghraib stuff still crops up all over the place on the BBC and on its World Service news that sambrook runs. Guantanamo is a constant theme. The BBC's tone was that the elections were likely to be a disaster or should be deferred. Any misdemeanour by US or British troops and the BBC is all over it like a rash.

Sorry Jay - but those who have followed the BBC's record are bound to be very chary of Sambrook's comments on the Davos affair. He defended through thick and thin the traducing of Blair over Iraq, and all the records of the Hutton public enquiry are there to show it.

Now Jordan is accused of traducing the US military with allegations far worse than Abu Ghraib. What you in the US need is a similar public enquiry on Jordan's remarks, with power to call for witnesses.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 8, 2005 8:37 AM | Permalink

To answer your question, John, I think the tape and a transcript should be released and it would be a mistake for the World Economic Forum to continue to refuse. Their instinct may be to protect members and speakers, but at this point they are hurting Jordan by not making it officially available.

"Sambrook is MSM personified." To me, that says it all.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2005 9:01 AM | Permalink

Does anyone else find it a little odd that the off-the-record, out-of-context comments of a news executive draw more attention than the on-the-record comments of the man who sends U.S. troops to war? You have the watch "The Daily Show" to see any coverage of the latter.

This isn't making me feel good about the "blogosphere," at least in the politics-only definition we're fond of using around here.

Posted by: Beau Dure at February 8, 2005 9:12 AM | Permalink

Help: Why the WEF Video is Important to Me

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2005 9:14 AM | Permalink


Again, thanks.

This article in the NY Sun seems a far more complete summary than the very late response of Howard Kurtz to the Jordan story :

With coverage like this, and the CNBC item yesterday on Kudlow and Cramer, the media blackout is beginning to crack.

Your final comment is a bit cryptic - isn't Sambrook MSM personified?

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 8, 2005 9:17 AM | Permalink

Actually the post referred to does not say I raised the Palestine Hotel incident. It says "another journalist" in the room did so. Sorry to throw an awkward point of accuracy and evidence into this swirl of - often unsupported - opinion. (Neither have I "lied" - where is your evidence for that? And John, not even Lord Hutton ever suggested I acted in bad faith)

Having said that, as a News Executive on a panel discussing the safety of journalists in Iraq I fail to see why I should not discuss any of these incidents. Unless they are properly, fairly and openly discussed, as I said in my original note to Jay, it will simply feed prejudice on all sides. Responsiblity for the safety of journalists in war zones rests with the news organisations. But unless we can have a full and open discussion with the military about how journalists have been killed we cannot understand what more we may be able to do to protect them. You are all entitled to your personal opinions about CNN, the BBC, me, Eason, the Iraq War and anything else. However this started with the question of journalists safety in war zones and the high number who have been killed. For those of us with friends and colleagues out there, we will continue to try to understand why the casualties among journalists are unusually high and what more we might do to protect them.

Posted by: Richard Sambrook at February 8, 2005 9:26 AM | Permalink

Mr Sambrook

I have not said that you lied in the Gilligan saga. I said that you defended through thick and thin the lie that Gilligan put out, the traducing of Downing Street. In spite of the fact that you had not asked to see Gilligan's notes to substantiate his claims. In spite of the fact that it was plain that Gilligan's story was contradicted by the chiefs of the UK intelligence services. And in spite of urgings from the Prime Minister himself. The record is there for all to see, including your own correspondence with Downing Street.

Nor have I said you acted in bad faith. But the trenchant criticisms of your executive handling of the Giligan affair made by Lord Hutton stand.

Questions of bias are of course a matter of judgment. Many of us feel that the BBC has been endemically opposed to the Iraq war in the balance of its coverage - or non-coverage, in its selection of commentators and panellists, in its refusal as a matter of policy to call head-choppers "terrorists", and in the tone of some of its key anchormen. The BBC has denied this - but as has been said elsewhere, does a fish know that it is wet ?

Do you wish the Davos tape to be released ? And can you state explicitly that Eason Jordan did NOT say that the US military had targetted journalists resulting in 12 deaths ?

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 8, 2005 9:46 AM | Permalink

Jay - you're missing the point. If our military is truly targeting journalists, then this is a scandal as big as Abu Ghraib, and Jordan is doing the nation and the world a grave disservice with his dance of the veils.

A better analogy is that Jordan and Sambrook are playing the Arafat game: one answer for the US audience, and a different one for the anti-US audience. Like the question of Arafat's support for suicide bombers, the question of whether the US military targets journalists for slaughter is a simple, black-or-white, empirical one that does not admit ambiguity.

Time for a simple, yes/no answer from Eason and Sambrook to this question: Do members of the US military intentionally seek to kill journalists?

The Arafat game is disgraceful. Answer the question, Jordan. Either retract your accusation or state it clearly and with supporting evidence.

Posted by: thibaud [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2005 10:03 AM | Permalink

Ah, transparency. The WEF videotapes the sessions explicitly so that those videotapes cannot be used subsequently. Brilliant. Apparently, there is nothing holding back any who attended from discussing what was said and even attributing what was said to particular individuals, but an actual transcript or videotape? Verboten! And, why isn't Eason Jordan calling for the release of his comments so that he might be vindicated? Are mainstream journalist now politicians that we should expect them to coverup and dissemble as much as possible?

Transparency, transparency, transparency. When will the media learn that is what it is all about?

Posted by: Ernest Miller at February 8, 2005 10:17 AM | Permalink

Questions for Jay: is it appropriate for journalists to drop bombshell accusations on major issues and then retreat into a cocoon of ambiguity? How does this further the cause of an enlightened citizenry? How can the media claim to speak truth to power when they use their own power to propagate untruths?

The worst possible situation is now developing: the anti-US contingent in Europe and the middle east can now point to the statements of the head of the leading US global news organization as confirmation of a scandalous charge against the US military, and yet the press is refusing to investigate his charges.

If the US military is targeting journalists, we need to see the evidence and Congress needs to investigate. If there is no evidence that the US military is not targeting journalists, then the arabs and Euros need to be told as much by Jordan and other journalists.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Rise and shine, Jordan.

Posted by: thibaud [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2005 10:19 AM | Permalink

Correction to above: should read If there is no evidence that the US military is targeting journalists...

Posted by: thibaud [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2005 10:21 AM | Permalink

"Time for a simple, yes/no answer from Eason and Sambrook to this question: Do members of the US military intentionally seek to kill journalists? "

Answer: No. As I indicated when Jay first invited me into this discussion. And as far as I am aware no-one has ever suggested that was my view.

John - it wasn't you who accused me of lying - it was another post on here. Thank you at least for acknowledging no bad faith on my part.

Jay - You'll understand next time you invite me to give an honest view on here I may think twice.

I'm now signing out of this discussion.

Posted by: richard sambrook at February 8, 2005 10:31 AM | Permalink

Richard Sambrook,

I'm angry that I've missed you.

"But unless [news organizations] can have a full and open discussion with the military about how journalists have been killed [news organizations] cannot understand what more we may be able to do to protect them."

Serious question: If the military answer is by embedding or pooling they can do their utmost to ensure journalist's safety, how do you respond?

The loggerjam seems to be that the military doesn't want you in front of their weapons and you don't want to only be behind their weapons.


Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2005 10:35 AM | Permalink

Thank you, Mr Sambrook.

Eason Jordan, do you agree with Mr Sambrook? If so, will you and CNN please issue a clear and unambiguous denial of this myth that is widely believed among your European and arab viewers and that was propagated by your own statements in Davos?

Posted by: thibaud [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2005 10:38 AM | Permalink

Richard Sambrook

You did not answer the burning current question - do you support the release of the videotapes.

Nor did you explicitly deny that Eason Jordan claimed at Davos that the US military had targetted and killed 12 journalists.

But now you choose to exit the discussion, leaving those crucial questions hanging.

You will not be surprised if people draw their own conclusions.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 8, 2005 10:40 AM | Permalink

The lack of a tape damns

If Jordan asked that the tape of his comments be released, it would be released. That Davos has now belatedly come up with an excuse not to release it and that Jordan has not called for its release says everything anyone needs to know, doesn't it?

Posted by: Lee Kane at February 8, 2005 10:42 AM | Permalink

It's sure looking alot like Jordan made a gaffe and expects to have his buddies cover for him. Jay, how is your suspension of judgement doing now that it's possible we'll never see a tape or anything approaching a verifiable transcript?

Jordan of course has the right to have private conversations in which he says anything stupid he wants, but then if his remark had been purportedly racist or sexist...well, you don't need me to finish the parallel (ask Larry Summers if you have trouble). No amount of clarification or back-pedalling would have appeased those who want to give him a pass now.

Some of us find that what Jordan *might* have said just as serious a slur, and it is interesting to speculate who in the audience he was trying to impress. Certainly not the American politicians, who have expressed their surprise at what they heard him say.

Posted by: Brian at February 8, 2005 10:56 AM | Permalink

If Mr Sambrook would like to disabuse his arab and European viewers of what he agrees is a myth, then perhaps in future should not introduce into the discussion bogus semantic distinctions, or try to limit the range of Jordan's charges to cases of journalists killed by sniper fire. Mr Sambrook defended Jordan by writing,

"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."

Jordan never singled out snipers. Even if he had, what evidence is there that journalists who enter a combate zone in places where enemy combatants operate are visibly identifiable as journalists? Surely this is one aspect of the story that you do know conclusively.

Also, there was never any semantic confusion among Jordan's audience, which included arab and European journalists as well as US politicians. The former applauded and thronged Jordan, the latter were upset. By introducing this false notion of semantic ambiguity, Sambrook distracted his readers from the main issue.

Jordan knew his words were the equivalent of a loaded gun. He chose to fire it, half-cocked. Is this appropriate behavior from the head of a global news organization?

Posted by: thibaud at February 8, 2005 10:57 AM | Permalink

Lee Kane,

The WEF will revisit their decision not to release the tape if the participants call for its release.

That's not a guarantee the WEF will reverse, but the ball is in Gergen's, Frank's and Jordan's court.

That's as clear as I can be.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2005 11:04 AM | Permalink

Time for a simple, yes/no answer from Eason and Sambrook to this question: Do members of the US military intentionally seek to kill journalists?


Jordan said last night. "I have never once in my life thought anyone from the U.S. military tried to kill a journalist. Never meant to suggest that. Obviously I wasn't as clear as I should have been on that panel."

You're claiming there is some kind of ambiguity there? He says he doesn't think the US military intentionally kills journalists. Sambrook said the same thing in his statement here: some people in the media think there is that intention, but that is not my view.

If you see wiggle room there, then I do not find you credible as a reader.

You're beginning to sound like a shoe-pounder in demanding further "clarification" of what has already been stated.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2005 11:05 AM | Permalink

From a business standpoint, ambiguity works to CNN and the Beeb's advantage.

Who knows the truth, right? By letting these myths (Jenin "massacre", US targets journalists, etc) surface and then refusing to dispositively investigate them, the CNN and the BBC can expand their foothold with continental European and arab viewers without seriously denting their US/UK base.

Perhaps Mr Sambrook needed to run along to a corporate meeting with the BBC suits responsible for gaining market share in the middle east.

Posted by: thibaud at February 8, 2005 11:05 AM | Permalink

Mr. Sambrook,

Assuming someone reads this to you (well, probably not)...get a thicker skin if you're going to bother appearing in venues like this. If you are thinking twice about "giving an honest view" (what else would you give us?) on the basis of someone imputing unkind motives to you in weblog comments, then you're far too delicate a flower for this rather weedy garden.

I suspect there are alot of people in the press whose egos keep them from being more responsive to feedback, for precisely the reason that they expect polite deference from the plebs who read them, and none of this nasty back and forth. It would indeed be nice to have everyone take you at your word, particularly while stonewalling the release of a possibly embarrassing tape.

Unfortunately, the public has the tendency to be just as insistent as, say, a mainstream reporter doggedly pursuing the latest zippergate scandal or celebrity facelift news. My God, the questions they'll ask...and some of them rude, too!

As for your comments here, I didn't find them very illuminating (some passages were a bit too self-serving), so I regret to say your presence won't be missed by me.


(Jay, please do not miss the point that Jordan may well want two separate audiences to have entirely different impressions of what he actually said.)

Posted by: Brian at February 8, 2005 11:14 AM | Permalink

Kurtz provides no source or link for Jordan's remarks, so I've no way of knowing whether they were made available to the arab and European audience that applauded Jordan at Davos and that see his Davos remarks as confirmation of the myth. How many people read Kurtz's column? How many people in Europe and the middle east read Kurtz's column?

Did Kurtz interview Jordan himself? Was there a press conference? I've searched CNN's website and can find nothing pertaining to them.

A dangerous myth has been created and has gained currency in no small measure due to Jordan's remarks. When will the public, not Howie Kurtz, hear Jordan speak?

Posted by: thibaud at February 8, 2005 11:16 AM | Permalink


You know considerable more about the media than I will ever know. I grant you this. I probably know more about the US military than you will ever know.

There is one thing I can assure you if it was the policy of the US military to target journalists, then the body count would be a lot higher than it is today. I can also assure you it would be all but impossible to prove. Instead of one shot one kill from a sniper, you would have 155mm rounds taking out an entire city block or 500 and 1,000 pound bombs falling from the sky like rain on these journalists who have decided to be embedded with the terrorists.

As for Eason, he probably said what he has been accused of saying. He surely does not have a creditable track record to support his denial. Even you would have to admit this.

So this too will be washed away. As it goes flowing down stream and into history along with it goes a little bit more of the ever-shrinking creditability of the media. For some reason this saddens me.

Posted by: Joe at February 8, 2005 11:24 AM | Permalink

As I was the person who mischaracterized a post, I want to apologize to Mr. Sambrook for having done so. Jay, would you please extend that recognition and apology to him?

I have some sympathy with Mr. Sambrook feeling mobbed. I think there are some elements of piling on happening here.

That did not happen out of the blue, however, so I'll just repeat that I believe the press by and large went into Iraq opposed to our action there and the US military went into Iraq knowing that fact and feeling very frustrated that neither their professionalism nor the chaos of actual battle - nor the ambiguity of correspondent relationships with the insurgents - was adequately reflected in press accounts and press reaction to journalist deaths.

Joe, I personally am saddened at the loss of crediblity on the part of the press, because I believe the press can play an important role for us. What that role will be, in the face of digital technologies, whether the various sides decide to take each other seriously and with more respect and what the future of journalism might look like -- well, that's a different and bigger question IMO.

Posted by: Robin Burk at February 8, 2005 11:49 AM | Permalink

Jay -

Seems you've attracted a crowd intent on proving Matt Welch right.

Maybe one day blogs, at least those that attract a mob, will scrap the "comments" field and go with "trackback" only. That may be the only way to keep some sanity in the mix. You're trying to have a sound discussion here -- it's a noble effort. But there will always be people with more time and more anger who'll bog things down once they've made up their minds.

Posted by: Beau Dure at February 8, 2005 11:53 AM | Permalink

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?

Posted by: Matt Stoller at February 8, 2005 11:56 AM | Permalink

"examine the responsibility of the commenters on this thread"--that's a good one. I remember when Mark Anderson regularly favored PressThink readers with long, tedious, and off-topic comments because some bugbear of his wasn't getting due attention. Yes, he's a regular model of restraint.

For that matter, I don't see your post trying to engage anyone. "We still recognize their necessity in the overall system of accountability in a democracy"--well, of course you do, you're educated, the rest of us just crawled out of the primoridal muck an hour ago and I myself have barely learned how to read. No point taking our views seriously. Obviously no one criticizing Jordan values the press at all, right?

As for Juan Cole and Jonah Goldberg, they're tangential at best to the issue of Eason Jordan's purported remarks--Goldberg isn't by any stretch of the imagination a media establishment figure like Jordan. Completely silly comparison.

You call for responsibility and careful criticism from others and then call people who are getting noticeably irritated with Jordan and CNN witchhunting dolts brainwashed by too much Internet and TV and Bill O'Reilly. Oh, so that's the kind of *reasoned* discussion you like. Have fun.

Posted by: Brian at February 8, 2005 12:31 PM | Permalink


My latest comments can be seen at American Street.


Posted by: Jude Nagurney Camwell at February 8, 2005 12:55 PM | Permalink

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.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2005 1:26 PM | Permalink


I hate to say I told you so...(oh hell, no I don't.)

The rightloons are out in force on this one, and you are to blame. You legitimized this as an "issue" because one of the chief rightloons (Hewitt) asked you to, and "mainstream" journalism now feels that the issue is legitimate to discuss---despite the fact that there is nothing to discuss. Are you proud of yourself?

Mr. Sambrooke: Having follow the Gilligan story very closely, I know what a complete whitewash that Law Lord's post was----and that it was such a whitewash that Blair had to appoint another commission to look into Britain's use of Iraqi intelligence. Thank you for standing up for what was right in that matter.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 8, 2005 2:18 PM | Permalink

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.

Posted by: thibaud at February 8, 2005 2:50 PM | Permalink

The charge so far is that something outrageous may have been said, but not reported. If this were a story about journalism and responsibility as you wish to frame it, not reporting bad information would be A GOOD SIGN. It would show the press exercised good journalistic judgment and kept bad information out of the mediasphere.

But the story, which doesn't exist without the conservative agenda you wish to put into parantheses, is a complaint is that there MAY HAVE been bad information that was NOT reported. If there was bad information, they insist that everyone know about it so they can complain about it and uncover the press conspiracy they pretend to see outside the reliable RNC outlets. In the conservative mind Richards stands convicted of NOT carrying out conspiratorial intent, therefore there must be an even wider conspiracy to explain the deviation from RNC dogma.

I'm not saying you have to be down with the left. I'm not saying the story isn't potentially important. I'm saying, isn't there something terribly wrong with this picture when you are treating the story as a case of journalistic integrity and the complaint is that bad information WAS NOT passed along?

I won't try to make you responsible for the blog swarm you've been hit with on this story, but can't you at least meet me half way and admit that neutrality is not an option in the midst of a blogswarm? Can you really be neutral as an ideological maelstrom sucks you down into the RNC attack abyss?

Accurate, yes. Careful, yes. But neutral? Come on. You're all wet--through little fault of your own.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 8, 2005 2:53 PM | Permalink

It's clear that Eason Jordan was referring to incidents like the shooting of Mazen Dana. For those who don't remember this award-winning cameraman who was killed in Iraq while filming near Abu Ghraib, take a minute to read this article and refresh your memory: The "unconscionable" death of Mazen Dana.

The lead question posed by Laura McClure on August 20, 2003 was "Are journalists being targeted in Middle East war zones? To a colleague of the slain Reuters cameraman, it sure seems that way."

This article, in the wake of the Palestine Hotel shelling that killed Taras Protsiuk working for Reuters and José Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish network Telecinco and the bombing of the Baghdad offices of Al Jazeera which killed Tareq Ayyoub, was unremarkable at the time it was written. Although these dead journalists have been forgotten as ancient history by many people and to whatever extent they ever registered in the consciousness of the warbloggers, they certainly are not forgotten by their colleagues, one of whom is Eason Jordan.

Consider the circumstances of Mazen Dana's killing:

On Aug. 17, Palestinian cameraman Mazen Dana became the second Reuters journalist to be killed by U.S. soldiers since the start of the Iraq war in March. Dana, who had been filming outside a U.S.-controlled prison in Baghdad following the death of six Iraqis the previous day, was fatally shot through the chest when an American tank crew mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and opened fire. The American military has called the incident "a terrible mistake" and promised to investigate, but some observers now speculate that the shooting was reckless, at best. [...] Coming just five days after the partial release of an investigation into the April 8 shelling by U.S. troops of the journalist-stuffed Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, Dana's death has sparked new questions on whether U.S. soldiers are also targeting journalists. Five journalists have died due to American fire, accounting for one-third of the journalists killed in the war thus far. Whatever the investigations may have yielded, the lessons learned were not sufficient to prevent Dana's death. [...] Nobody's particularly satisfied with the investigation of this shooting into the Palestine Hotel. There's no indication of whether or not they ever knew there were journalists inside, which everybody did know; I mean, these things aren't secret. These things are widely known, journalists stay together, people are savvy when they're doing war reports.

And Mazen was probably one of the most savvy and experienced war reporters and cameramen in the world.

Right now there are parallels. There is shooting in the West Bank of journalists that is not investigated, and there's not enough public pressure to make it stop, or make it investigated thoroughly and reprimanded to the point that it stops. And right now we have it happening in Iraq, and from the one investigation we don't have a credible, solid investigation that sends out the signal, "Make sure you don't shoot journalists." Journalists aren't hiding; we try to be as obvious as we can. We wear press jackets that say "Press" and dress our cars up with big signs that say "TV," so everyone knows who the journalists are. We always try to talk to the soldiers, and I know Mazen Dana and his sound man had done that the day they were shot, so the soldiers knew who they were. But he was still shot, so it leaves a lot of questions.

The question is, did a US soldier look through his rifle scope at Mazen Dana and then pull the trigger? The answer is yes. Now, everyone can and will argue about what "targeted" means and that is all this argument is about. It reduces to a stupid semantic quibble the warbots are using to smear their old nemesis, the "MSM." Much sound and fury signifying nothing, as usual.

Posted by: tex at February 8, 2005 2:55 PM | Permalink

Mr. Rosen, while I hesitate to contribute to the tragedy of the commons, I would like some clarification. Should Jordan's statement to Kurtz quoted above effectively end the matter? Is it of no consequence that Jordan apparently has one message for the US audience and another for the international? Or is the message essentially the same and being misinterpretated, misrepresented, misconstrued by others who were present at the event?

Many in the media are keen on winning hearts and minds. I'm at a loss as how to accomplish that when major media figures like Eason Jordan behave so irresponsibly in a international (quasi)public forum.

Of course, I don't know for sure that Mr. Jordan did in fact behave irresponsibly since at this juncture all I have to go on are admitedly subjective eyewitness reports. So, it seems to me, the media should direct their efforts into getting that tape. Do you intend to do that? Or have you satisfied your obligations as a journalist by merely going on record stating that you believe the tape should be made available?

And, for what it's worth, even grandees like Richard Sambrook should find it beneficial to venture below stairs on occasion and mix it up with the hoi polloi in the kitchen. Fair warning, though, it can get hot in here.

Posted by: Kyda Sylvester at February 8, 2005 3:05 PM | Permalink

Nice try, tex, but there is no semantic quibble here.

The meaning of "targeted" was so obvious to Jordan's audience that it provoked entirely predictable reactions: the Americans were dismayed; the arabs were delighted. Had his meaning been unclear, the reaction would have been confusion or even lack of interest. Instead the reaction was instant, visceral and widespread.

Perhaps we will see CNN try to spin off a separate brand with separate editorial staff that's, er, targeted at the arab and european markets. Jordan's US team can tell its US audience one story and the Eur-abian team can tell their audience another story, and whenever the twain meet, as in Davos, handlers will be present to ensure that all messages for the combined audience are swabbed through and through with ambiguity.

Is that a good outcome, Jay?

Posted by: thibaud at February 8, 2005 3:18 PM | Permalink

Thanks, Thibaud... that's very interesting. I buy a certain percentage of it.

Go back and read My post on Jordan the diplomat and politician, hailing from the independent globe-spanning nation of CNN. I believe there is a lot to criticize in that vision.

I also think it adds to the force of some of the criticisms Jordan has received for speaking imprecisely that it is, in fact, his job not to provoke diplomatic dust ups between the Arabs and the US Military, not to be sloppy in matters of life and death, always to speak with respect, always to be aware of the camera.

Here is what I wrote about his vision: "He 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."

Is there such thing? What are the consequences of a news executive believing it?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2005 3:20 PM | Permalink

Mark: I didn't say I was neutral and so trust in me. I'm not. I said PressThink chose, in this case, to engage in a neutral practice. You may go ahead and tell me there are no neutral practices. I've heard it six zillion times and I "got" it after one.

"Let's make no judgment until we get the tape" is neutral, not in any absolute sense, but only relative to other options people may have at a particular moment in a dispute. ZZZZZZZZZzzzzz.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2005 3:31 PM | Permalink

The meaning of "targeted" was so obvious to Jordan's audience that it provoked entirely predictable reactions: the Americans were dismayed; the arabs were delighted. Had his meaning been unclear, the reaction would have been confusion or even lack of interest.

We'll skip over the racist aspects of that remark for the time being, and the fact that you have only subjectively interpreted anecdotal evidence for this assertion.

Instead the reaction was instant, visceral and widespread.

One blogger commented on this and here we are ten days later with the warbloggers still trying to build their molehill up. As you can see from my previous post, the issue of US soldiers shooting journalists has been discussed from the beginning. To blow Eason's remarks up into this faux-controversy has taken a mob of warbloggers pounding away for the past ten days.

What I find astonishing is that this subject is suddenly interesting to a group of people who, as far as I can tell, has ignored and poo-pooed journalists killed by the US for the past two years.

Does anyone here remember who Ali al-Khatib or Ali Abdelaziz are? Remember when Iraqi journalists en masse walked out on Colin Powell during a Baghdad press conference?

A representative of the Iraqi media read out a statement at the start of the news conference, condemning the killing, as Mr Powell and Paul Bremer, the head of the US-led coalition provisional authority, looked on. The journalists then stood up and left the news conference.

Al-Arabiya yesterday described the shootings as a "horrid crime", and demanded an investigation. Mohsin Abdel Hamid, a member of the US-appointed Iraqi governing council, told the station that the shooting was "absolutely clear aggression by the occupation forces against the media".
Did everyone just space out on that incident? Or does it not count because the journalists in question were "arabs."

Posted by: tex at February 8, 2005 3:44 PM | Permalink

Jay Rosen,

between the Arabs and the US Military....

Surely you are aware that General John Abizaid, just for one example, is an Arab.

Posted by: tex at February 8, 2005 3:52 PM | Permalink

[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).
Or porn.

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.

Posted by: thibaud at February 8, 2005 4:10 PM | Permalink

Here's a contrary global news vision: citizens around the world participate in the development of news stories and share, critique and discuss those stories and their implications.

Open up the media around the world. Treat news reportage as the initiation of a conversation aimed at dialectically advancing toward truth, not the "first draft of history" as revealed by pompous priests.

Open up the reporting format to show clearly, via hyperlinks, the reporter's sources, his background and, yes, biases. Provide text message capabilities with each story so that readers can talk back, directly, in real time, to the article's author.

Apply as much of the open source model as possible to media. Conversation is a good thing. So is transparency.

Posted by: thibaud at February 8, 2005 4:25 PM | Permalink

I was surprised by Mr. Sambrooks quick departure.

He was essentially accused of bringing up the Palestine hotel incident, which has been clearly documented as a case of journalists being mistaken for Iraqi artillery spotters.

He said that was not what the link said. He did not say he did not bring it up. He did not say who brought it up if it was brought up. He quickly signed off.

Disappointing. I am not concerned with what was said at a particular blog. I am concerned with what was, or wasn't, said at Davos.

Overall, I found both his statement and commentary here far less elucidating than I would have hoped.

Posted by: Blanknoone at February 8, 2005 5:14 PM | Permalink

My point is not that you try, but fail, to be neutral. Neither of us believe in the view from nowhere you have so eloquently critiqued in your work. The primary reason I read your blog is that you don't believe in that and I read you because I agree with you on that. So failed neutrality is clearly not the point. Hopefully I can catch you before the Zzzzs and the tune-out strike again.

My question is something much more visceral, related to the field of forces in which we act. Waiting for the tape is a "neutral practice" in terms of passing judgment on the facts of the case.

I'm talking about how the concept of neutral practice becomes unintelligible or incoherent within a field of competing forces that rise to a certain level.

What does it mean if I declare neutrality while I am being shot at? I may be agnostic as to why I am being shot, but that has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not I am wounded and how serious the injury may be.

You seem to think I want you to agree with me. What I'm saying is, "Ouch! That blogswarm looked painful. Doesn't that hurt?"

I understand your comment that a blog open to comments is a gamble with the commons and it is a losing bet. I feel you there. You are agreeing with me that it hurts, though disagreeing with me about why.

From where I stand, you are optimistically betting on the exceptional act of communication on the commons in the middle of organized, hand-to-hand combat. I admire your discipline even if I don't quite understand it.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 8, 2005 6:59 PM | Permalink


It is a shame if you feel that people like Richard Sambrook deserve more respect from us hoi polloi. I happen to think that in the Gilligan affair Sambrook had feet of clay and was thoroughly unprofessional. I felt that from the beginning of the Gilligan saga, having previously worked in the UK Civil Service including a spell on the Cabinet Secretariat. Blair and his staff strongly denied the Gilligan accusation that it had "sexed up" a dossier produced by the Joint Intelligence Committee which comprises the heads of the UK security agencies. The security chiefs themselves confirmed that Gilligan was wrong. But Sambrook persisted in defending the false Gilligan story - without ever checking whether Gilligan had proper journalistic notes to support the quotes he used. Even though this was a resigning matter for the Prime Minister. The whole basis for Sambrook's intransigence seemed absurd and arrogant to me. It was as if a US TV channel had accused Bush of taking a joint report of the FBI and the CIA and substantially altering it before publishing it IN THEIR NAME without their approval or assent. And then would not back down, even in the face of formal and repeated denials from the FBI and CBI chiefs.

Events proved that my political instinct and administrative experience was right - and Sambrook was wrong. And in terms of the norms that used to mark British public life, I was amazed that Sambrook did not resign after the report by Lord Hutton.

But no - he is still around, muddying the water here with incorrect references to the Palestine Hotel incident, and still pursuing the official BBC policy of calling terrorists "insurgents".

Again, I refer you to the fact that British sailors on HMS Ark Royal insisted that the BBC news feed was turned off. That is how reliable and balanced the BBC has been viewed in its reporting of Iraq.

You evidently do not like the appellation "MSM". But it is very difficult not to see CNN and BBC as birds of a feather. Anyway - there still appears to be no explicit denial by Mr Sambrook of the allegations made by some 5 other people who were at the Davos seminar. Fuzziness is not good enough here, given the seriousness of the allegations.

I trust you will add all the pressure you can for the release of the Davos tapes. The Davos incident is not going to be pushed down the memory hole - it needs to be properly resolved, one way or the other.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 8, 2005 8:21 PM | Permalink

Sysiphus -- That's the point. WEF would release the tape if Jordan asked it be released. Gergen is a friend of Jordan's, and what's Frank's interest making a call for a release...not much. So it's up to Jordan and if his remarks were innocent then he'd have done so. In fact, I suspect the WEF already asked him if the tape could be released and he declined. Otherwise it would be out.

Jordan's comments are annoying and reveal where Jordan is really coming from, politically and culturally. And they prove again that the worst that is said in the foreign press about the US actually originates in the US press. Personally, I already knew the shape of Jordan's paradigm (it's almost a cliche), so there isn't much of interest for me regarding the comments themselves. What's interesting to watch is the larger battle of perceptual frames being waged between lefty MSM-ers and non-lefty bloggers with some help from crazy iconoclasts (like O'Reilly) and non-crazy iconoclasts like Kaus. This is just another skirmish in that struggle and as usual only one side, the blogger side, is actually doing the fighting, while the other, the MSM, ignores their battle cries as little more than annoyances or the baying of the semi-crazed.

Posted by: Lee Kane at February 8, 2005 10:56 PM | Permalink

Jordan should be fired, now -- before the tape is released. He should have been fired in April, 2003, after admitting CNN only broadcast Saddam approved news of Iraq, while claiming to broadcast the truth.

Lefties are prolly right that Davos IS a "witchhunt" -- in the same way that anti-Nixon Lefties used Watergate as a witchhunt to get rid of Tricky Dicky. And as Rathergate was a witchhunt to get rid of the long-biased Rather. And as Abu Ghraid was, and is, a witchhunt to get rid of Rumsfeld, if not Bush.

I have my own "witchhunt:" to get regime change in Sudan, so as to stop the genocide. Witchhunt/ campaign -- there's not much difference. (Bill Moyers had a great apology for quoting fake witchhunt junk against former Env. Sec. James Watt, from PowerLine.)

The point is the targets, and the evidence. Kerry or Clinton lying about what they did or didn't do (Cambodia Christmas, have sex with that woman) may be different than sincere but (possibly) wrong beliefs (Saddam has WMDs).

Trent Lott was witchhunted out (good riddance); so was Raines at the NYT (good riddance) -- for what they actually did.

Nixon for ... what the tapes (secret? illegal?) showed he knew, when. (I voted for Carter because Ford pardoned the crook.)

Jordan should be fired. Prolly Sambrook, too. (Yet I DO feel bad there such a pile up on him. Still, anybody who says he's right to avoid the criticism is a hypocrite if they criticize Bush for avoiding the LAT, for instance.) Let the witchhunts continue! Or stop reading poli blogs -- there are plenty of News sites. Heh heh.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 9, 2005 7:30 AM | Permalink

"Let's make no judgment until we get the tape" is neutral, not in any absolute sense, but only relative to other options people may have at a particular moment in a dispute. ZZZZZZZZZzzzzz.

in other words, although it is unacceptable to judges someone based on malicious rumors, its perfectly acceptable to spread and legitimize those rumors prior to determining if the rumors represent any kind of truth.

You brought this on yourself----nobody in the "real" media was paying attention to it, because there was obviously nothing to pay attention to. But because your good friend Hugh Hewitt asked you to spread the rumor, you did so---despite knowing that Hewitt is a right-wing gasbag.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 9, 2005 12:57 PM | Permalink

Ahhh, Sleep and Revisiting Easongate

* What did Eason Jordan say and why did he say it?

* Was the session on or off the record and did WEF change their mind?

* What is the relationship between the media, terrorists, guerrillas/insurgents and the military, especially during combat as in Iraq?
tex, for the record, "The question is, did a US soldier look through his rifle scope at Mazen Dana and then pull the trigger? The answer is yes."

No. There was no scoped rifle.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2005 1:35 PM | Permalink

It's a sidebar, but the description of the Hutton report on here is pretty one-sided from someone who says they worked close to the area of government involved. I don't work for the media or the government, but from where I sit it was widely discredited after it was published for being ridiculously one sided. Then Blair had to hold the Butler Inquiry which found his government seriously at fault for the way it handled intelligence and for the way he ran the British cabinet. Sure the BBC made some big mistakes, but without Gilligan we wouldn't know how badly the public were misled. Were there WMD? No. Were they a serious and imminent threat? No. Has anyone been held to account for this? No.

Posted by: SuzeC at February 9, 2005 1:44 PM | Permalink

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:

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.

Posted by: neo-neocon at February 9, 2005 1:56 PM | Permalink

The link didn't work in my above comment, so I'm trying again, putting it in my signature.

Posted by: neo-neocon [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2005 1:59 PM | Permalink

You brought this on yourself----nobody in the "real" media was paying attention to it, because there was obviously nothing to pay attention to. But because your good friend Hugh Hewitt asked you to spread the rumor, you did so---despite knowing that Hewitt is a right-wing gasbag.

Jay, having fun at re-education camp? Bring me back a t-shirt.

"You brought this on yourself"--strangely, when I hear that line the first things I think about are wife-beaters and bullies.

Posted by: Brian at February 9, 2005 2:07 PM | Permalink


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.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 9, 2005 2:13 PM | Permalink

Pernicious ambiguity at Davos

Curiously, Rosen seems to think that he's using this reasoning to defend Jordan.

In fact, the ambiguities of Jordan's remarks were more extensive and more subtle.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2005 2:21 PM | Permalink

Of course you're entitled to your view - and me to mine. But given your background you are hardly neutral on the subject. I happen to think the Hutton Report has to be read with the Butler Report alongside. Both sides made serious errors. Gilligan got it wrong and covered up. So did Downing St. This is a site concerned with openness and accountability. Seems to me the BBC have paid a price for their errors. Gilligan, Dyke and Davies walked the plank. The Blair government is still in denial and no-one has accepted responsiblity for seriously mishandling intelligence and misleading the public.

Posted by: SuzeC at February 9, 2005 6:17 PM | Permalink

"You brought this on yourself"--strangely, when I hear that line the first things I think about are wife-beaters and bullies.

then I would suggest that you seek some therapy (either because you have been abused or are an abuser) because people do "bring things on themselves" all the time without being battered wives or victimized by bullies.

Jay screwed up by publicizing and legitimizing a non-story that has become the focus of a rightloon blogswarm. He did so because he sucks up to his buddy Hewitt---and Rosen should know better than to respond to a wingnut like Hewitt. It was quite obvious from the original post that Jordan had not meant what people thought he had said---but instead of ignoring Hewitt, he made the issue credible.

....and he still hasn't mentioned the fact that the NY Times killed the story on Bush cheating on the debates, nor has he mentioned the whole "Jeff Gannon" controversy (I mean, here is a guy who gets White House press credentials using a pseudonym, and female reporters cannot get press credentials with their "professional" maiden names if they are married---they only get credentialled under their married name. Where is Rosen on this story?)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 9, 2005 7:41 PM | Permalink

Nik Gowing (pdf) on Tareq Ayyoub:

It eventually became clear that what was initially assumed to be a clear case of malicious US targeting was in reality probably more complex. The Al Jazeera bureau was located next door to a villa used by Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf , Iraq's information minister who towards the end of the war became known as 'Comical Ali'. Located between the buildings was an electrical generator which the US forces wanted immobilised in order to crank up the pressure on Al-Sahaf and the regime. Al Jazeera conceded later it was probably this equipment which the US had targeted and not the Al Jazeera bureau.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2005 8:27 PM | Permalink

So where are we?

  • There has been judgment on war -- a nasty place to be.
  • Judgment on Barney Frank calling Jordan out at Davos -- Good for him.
  • Judgments on Jordan's Davos remark -- suspended in finality but clearly ill-considered and fans are impressed by his ability to duck and run.
  • Judgments on Jordan's past remarks -- Who cares since he's been taken to the woodshed (so, let it go, fer crissake).
  • And judgments on Davos damage control -- Jordan slammed and Sambrook tweaked (but S. is complimented for wading into PressThink).
  • Judgments on the comments -- p.lukasiak's "rightloons" is typically inflammatory, and
  • Judgments on general comments -- fairly predictable.

But the real sadness I feel is for Matt Stoller, so lost in one particular view that his keen intellect won't integrate possibilities beyond his habit. Quick to identify the memes and frames of others, he's so dismissive. He's blind to his own memes and frames, brushing others aside as if their thought is inconsequential. He writes, 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.

I feel sad, Matt, for selfish reasons. I want to think WITH you, Matt, but you make it so hard.

If only you weren't so impatient, because AN answer isn't necessarily THE answer. Easy answers have consequences and frequently cover up problems rather than solve them. If only you realized that people who disagree with you aren't selfish by definition, but are interested in solving the same problems that you are. If only you gave others the credit you give yourself.

Posted by: sbw at February 9, 2005 9:33 PM | Permalink

From Keep on Typing ...

... Toward the end, Begley says something I find particularly interesting:
The news media would do well to keep in mind that once we report something, some people will always believe it even if we try to stuff the genie back in the bottle.
... The danger here is that journalists will fail to correct their own thinking!
Something to think about.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2005 10:23 PM | Permalink

So Jay is shilling for Hewitt? Collaborating is more like it. But it's subtle. As for sbw's assault on Matt Stoller, seeing the sham that was the run up to Iraq only needs one to take their heads out of the sand. Many didn't at the time. And still don't.

Posted by: marky48 [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2005 10:53 PM | Permalink

Accountability for political decisions & judgements come mostly at election time, for any democracy. The jury voted for "not guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt for OJ. 60 mill. US voters supported Bush, despite not finding WMDs in Iraq, despite Pres. Clinton's earlier 98 assurances, and Bush's maintenance that Saddam had WMDs.

There WAS accountability, some 57 mill. US voters wanted to boot Bush, far more than ever voted for Clinton. Not enough. OJ is not guilty; Bush is reelected. Don't like it? Call for impeachment. (ha!) Like the witchhunt against Nixon; and against Clinton.
Otherwise, time to Move ON -- what's the policy now. Oh yeah, Tenet DID, finally, resign.

"the sham that was the run up to Iraq" How many beheadings do the anti-democracy death squads perform before you agree that it is GOOD they are not in power in Iraq?

What's a bigger sham: democracy in Iraq, or UN Human Rights Commission member Sudan NOT committing genocide?

NY Observer has an article that Dawn Eden was fired by the Post, because she is pro-life. But she added true facts to the story she edited. Jordan should be fired because he is witnessing, falsely, against the US military.

Leftist Media Bias.

Easongate has started a petition to, first, demand release of the tape. Then, to demand that CNN fire Jordan.

Jordan should be fired. Now. Based on prior lies.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 10, 2005 6:23 AM | Permalink


I am surprised you suggest that because i worked in the UK Cabinet Office I am hardly neutral. I was a civil servant for over 20 years, and in the UK civil servants are neutral - they are not appointees of the current government, I worked for both Labour and Conservative. I judged - from experience of the mechanics of UK government - that Sambrook's vehement defence of Gilligan was a nonsense, and so it proved to be. The subsequent Butler enquiry dealt mainly with failings of the intelligence services on WMD, and in no way corroborated Gilligan's lies that Sambrook defended without any checking.

As you say - Gilligan, the Chairman and the Director General walked the plank after Hutton reported. Sambrook did not, even though he carried primary responsibilty for much of the matter. And all this does not alter the fact that sambrook's account of what happened at Davos appears to differ materially from the other 5 witnesses. Absent the videotape, and given Eason Jordan's previous statements, surely one is forced to the conclusion that Jordan DID accuse the US military of targeting and killing up to 12 journalists.

As people have suggested - maybe Jordan was playing his words to match his predominant audience on the day. If so, his words have flashed back on him, big-time. I receive CNN International on my cable system - I happen to think it is a poor channel, but now I feel it is badly tainted.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 10, 2005 7:00 AM | Permalink

If only you realized that people who disagree with you aren't selfish by definition, but are interested in solving the same problems that you are. If only you gave others the credit you give yourself.

if only the people who disagree with Matt Stoller were interested in the truth, rather than pursuing a rightloon witch hunt, they might deserve such credit.

No one knows precisely what Eason Jordan said, but there is no question that whatever he said, he made it clear that he did not believe what he is accused of saying. Jordan's concerns are legitimate, however, because the US has shown a complete and reckless disregard for the lives of civilians (including journalists) in Iraq.

If Laura Bush happened to have been in the Palestine Hotel on April 8, would that tank had fired on the hotel that day? Of course not; the commanders in Iraq would have made sure that the hotel was not fired upon because of the presence of the First Lady. Those same commanders were well aware that the Palestine Hotel was the home of most of the international press in Baghdad --- why was that not communicated to the people in the tank?

And can someone explain how a sniper can see a target so well that he is able to kill a cameraman with a single shot....but is unable to tell the difference between a camera and a grenade launcher?

These killings were intentional, and the issue is not whether journalists were targeted, but whether non-combatant civilians, including journalists, are being killed by the US because it places a far higher value on the lives of American soldiers than it does on the rest of humanity. The US refuses to accept the risks inherent in an invasion and occupation, as a result civilians die. Even more tragically, because the US protects its own personnel so well, the insurgents who are opposed to the occupation are targetting the far less well protected Iraqis who are collaborating with the US.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 10, 2005 7:25 AM | Permalink

p.lukasiak> the US has shown a complete and reckless disregard for the lives of civilians.

Ah. Yes. War is peace. I forgot.

You also said, "if only the people who disagree with Matt Stoller were interested in the truth".

Oversimplification is not truth.


Posted by: sbw at February 10, 2005 7:50 AM | Permalink

Brett Stephens in the WSJ Opinion Journal [Registration required] [Hat tip to Instapundit's pointer.]

By chance, I was in the audience of the World Economic Forum's panel discussion where Mr. Jordan spoke. What happened was this: Mr. Jordan observed that of the 60-odd journalists killed in Iraq, 12 had been targeted and killed by coalition forces. He then offered a story of an unnamed Al-Jazeera journalist who had been "tortured for weeks" at Abu Ghraib, made to eat his shoes, and called "Al-Jazeera boy" by his American captors.
Here Rep. Barney Frank, also a member of the panel, interjected: Had American troops actually targeted journalists? And had CNN done a story about it? Well no, Mr. Jordan replied, CNN hadn't done a story on this, specifically. And no, he didn't believe the Bush administration had a policy of targeting journalists. Besides, he said, "the [American] generals and colonels have their heart in the right place."
By this point, one could almost see the wheels of Mr. Jordan's mind spinning, slowly: "How am I going to get out of this one?" But Mr. Frank and others kept demanding specifics. Mr. Jordan replied that "there are people who believe there are people in the military" who have it out for journalists. He also recounted a story of a reporter who'd been sent to the back of the line at a checkpoint outside of Baghdad's Green Zone, apparently because the soldier had been unhappy with the reporter's dispatches.

Posted by: sbw at February 10, 2005 8:03 AM | Permalink

Pointer [Parsing the Jordan episode] to Jeff Jarvis: On Jordan, these are the stories I can catalogue:

  1. What Jordan said.
  2. What soldiers did.

Posted by: sbw at February 10, 2005 8:18 AM | Permalink

Bret Stephens was at Davos and has confirmed today what he said originally. So has Rebecca Mckinnon. Meanwhile a Swiss journalist has also said that Eason Jordan made the allegation. Its all out there in the new blog world.

So that looks like 6 out of 8 of those present are saying pretty explicitly that Eason Jordan accused the US military of targeting and killing up to 12 journalists. Neither Jordan nor Sambrook have explicitly stated that he did NOT make this allegation.

Absent the tape, there can be only one conclusion ? It is hard to see how CNN cn be given any credibility or credentials by US authorities if this mess is not cleared up.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 10, 2005 8:50 AM | Permalink


Time to get your Lithium level adjusted. Stoller moans about a "witchhunt mentality" and if I disagree with him, according to your reasoning, that makes me part of the witchhunt. Ever take a course in basic logic?

Personally, I don't think Jordan has to or should go or that it would make one iota of difference if he did. He hasn't revealed anything about CNN that we didn't already know (much worse was whitewashing Iraq news because he just had to have a Baghdad bureau--that was the firing offense, because CNN admitted that their most basic mission had been totally compromised). I'm sympathetic to his predicament (everyone has put his foot in it at one time or another) but annoyed by the double-standard that protects Jordan in a way that no non-journalist figure of his stature would be protected. Kaus is right about Kurtz, whose piece on Jordan was so toothless it couldn't chew the skin off a pudding.

Go on ranting about rightloon blogswarms, I guess Mickey Kaus and Barney Frank are the new rightloon blogswarm leaders (or co-conspirators if you prefer). Rather unlikely if you ask me.

Jay has a line about certainty that would apply tenfold to you--there's not a quaver of doubt in your rhetoric that people who argue with you are simply against the truth. Typically one only finds that attitude among the crazed and delusional. I'm just saying.


Posted by: Brian at February 10, 2005 9:12 AM | Permalink

It is hard to see how CNN cn be given any credibility or credentials by US authorities if this mess is not cleared up.

No its not. Jordan spoke extemporaneously, and probably said something he didn't mean by mistake, and when challenged made it clear what he did mean. There is no story there.

And, considering the fact that the White House credentialed a gay hustler using an alias who apparently was involved in the prostitution of American military personnel, and that there is no outcry from wingnuts like yourself because "Jeff Gannon" was working to spread Bushco propaganda, its really tough for anyone with a brain to take seriously your concerns abou the "credentialling" of journalists.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 10, 2005 9:18 AM | Permalink

Time to get your Lithium level adjusted. Stoller moans about a "witchhunt mentality" and if I disagree with him, according to your reasoning, that makes me part of the witchhunt. Ever take a course in basic logic?

Yeah, I have. That's why Stoller is obviously right about what is happening here.

Jordan apparently said something that sounded to the audience like he was accusing the US of specifically targetting journalists. When challenged on that point, he made it clear that is not what he meant.

Right wing journalists flat out lie all the time, never issue a retraction when they are caught lying, and yet nobody cares. Jordan mis-speaks, corrects himself immediately upon being challenged, and yet it becomes a cause celebre among rightloons. None of them are interested in following up on the issues that Jordan does raise---that journalists (especially Muslim journalists) have been subjected for harrassment, detention, and torture. They are only interested in crucifying Jordan for saying something that it is obvious to every reasonable person that he did not mean.

"Basic logic" tells you that this is not about "media credibility", its a witch hunt.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 10, 2005 9:28 AM | Permalink


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 ?

But it is good to see that even you are now saying that Jordan probably did make the allegation.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 10, 2005 9:28 AM | Permalink

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.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 10, 2005 10:21 AM | Permalink


Don't you think you are so deep in a quagmire that you should stop digging ? This thread is about Eason Jordan, not Abu Ghraib or Jeff Gannon. You concede that Jordan accused the US military of widespread targeting and killing of journalists. Don't you think he should ask for the tape to be released ? Especially now that a commentator at MSNBC is calling for "the cancer at CNN to be removed" ?

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 10, 2005 10:59 AM | Permalink

p.lukasiak, you seem to believe that excess on the right justifies excess on the left. That's too bad. Many here, including me, prefer to expose them both and wither them with derisively laughter.

As far as Eason is concerned, assuming the representations of Brett Stephens mentioned above are correct, Stephens' observations in the article are also useful. To whit:

Whether with malice aforethought or not, Mr. Jordan made a defamatory innuendo. Defamatory innuendo--rather than outright allegation--is the vehicle of mainstream media bias.
Mr. Jordan deserves some credit for retracting the substance of his remark, and some forgiveness for trying to weasel his way out of a bad situation of his own making.
I regret this being represented as a rightish blogger headhunt -- it needn't be so -- which Jordan might have avoided had he engaged in forthright, transparent, damage control: This is what I said. This what I meant. This is what I believe. I'll try to do better next time.

We all have other things worth discussing.

Posted by: sbw at February 10, 2005 11:27 AM | Permalink


Is there historical and/or academic value for you - as a media critic - in having the video in the public domain?

Regardless of who said it, assuming it was a major media figure, do these comments have significance such that they belong in the public domain?

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 10, 2005 11:55 AM | Permalink

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?)

Posted by: blogaddict [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 10, 2005 1:38 PM | Permalink


As a matter of interest - do you still recommend sitting on the fence, deferring any judgment on what Jordan said ?

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 10, 2005 3:22 PM | Permalink

As a matter of interest - do you still recommend sitting on the fence, deferring any judgment on what Jordan said?

Under the circumstances (no tape) I have to release all my delegates. They are no longer bound by my pledge to remain neutral. Vote your conscience. Choose your side.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 10, 2005 9:02 PM | Permalink

p. lukasiak,
I agree with your take on the Eason blogswarm as fundamentally a convenient non-story to reinforce the surreal Repub narrative of liberal media bias (which has the further propandastic merit of reminding us of the irrelevant good intentions of the administration and our men in uniform and erasing the ugly consequences of their real world actions), but I think you're being a little hard on Jay.

Do you really believe Hugh Hewitt couldn't get a blog-swarm going without a little reporting in the interim courtesy of Jay?

Hewitt may be a shill, but he's a very professional shill with a law degree and a communications strategy that works for his purposes (selling books and "compassionate" Republican surreality). I don't think you can fairly hold Jay responsible for the blogswarm simply because he's on speaking terms with Hewitt.

Was it a targeted blogswarm from the start? It was a telegraphed punch. Would the entire right-wing echochamber on this non-story full-time for ten days have not gotten it to the Pseudo-liberal media without Jay's reporting? Hard to believe.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 10, 2005 9:48 PM | Permalink

Kudos for the Jude Nagurney Camwell link.
Mark Anderson

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 10, 2005 9:59 PM | Permalink

New at PressThink (Feb. 10): Blog Storm Troopers or Pack Journalism at its Best?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 10, 2005 11:52 PM | Permalink

All the posts by Mark Anderson on this matter seem to try to minimise the importance of Eason Jordan's statement at Davos, tied in with repeated attacks on Hugh Hewitt. Anderson's theme is that this is just a blogstorm without any merit or interest.

Hmmm. Leaving aside Anderson's fixation on Hugh Hewitt, it is clear that this is not just a matter of interest to blogsites. I have just heard the story on the main BBC morning news programme, and Kudlow appears to be pursuing it strongly :

It isn't Hewitt that gives this story legs. It is the CONTENT of the story, plus the strong sense that the videotape would be in the public domain if CNN and Jordan asked for it.

All Hewitt does is add some literate comments - people will soon adopt his characterisation of Jordan's comments as "sliming the military".

Mark Anderson's various postings have added zilch to the discussion of the real issue - is Jordan guilty of false and highly inflammatory comments about the US military, and is this a general pattern inside the upper reaches of CNN ?

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

Let us bow to Hewitt et al. muckrakers of fog.

Posted by: marky48 [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2005 12:50 PM | Permalink

From the Intro