February 10, 2005
Blog Storm Troopers or Pack Journalism at its Best?
"A good number of PressThink readers think I am in error for tracking the Eason Jordan story as closely as I have. By writing about the furor I am voting for it, and in some sense endorsing it, they say." Plus: Who broke the story? And Steve Lovelady blasts Hugh Hewitt.
UPDATE, 7:00 pm, Feb. 11: Eason Jordan resigns.
1. Release the Tape.
Dan Kennedy of the Boston Phoenix asks at his Media Log: Where’s the Tape?
Like Kennedy, I was in the “reserve judgment until we hear for ourselves” camp on Eason Jordan’s comments. But we may never hear for ourselves. The World Economic Forum is not thinking ahead when it says it will withold the tape of the event. It doesn’t realize how bad it looks when it offers the public this account instead, which does not even mention the events in question. (An AP story about those events finally made the New York Times today, at 8:22 pm.)
“What Jordan said in Davos has become a big enough story about an important enough institution that it’s time for all of us to have a chance to judge for ourselves,” Kennedy writes. And I agree with that. (An online petition about it.) I also agree with Robert Cox of The National Debate who said to an e-mail list we’re both on: “Right-wing bloggers have swarmed.” They “think they have the next Rathergate when they may well have the next Kerry Intern rumor.” We still have to see the tape to know.
Jim Geraghty of the National Review Online had a similar thought: “Unfortunately, I think the effort to get to the bottom of this has been hampered by… an eagerness to get to the full-throated denunciation of Jordan before the fact-gathering is finished.” Definitely true.
2. The Enabler.
A good number of PressThink readers think I am in error for tracking the Eason Jordan story as closely as I have. By writing about the furor I am voting for it, and in some sense endorsing it, they say. (See this comment thread.) It’s an argument worth having. Today’s post at the blog Reading A1 is called Blogstorm troopers. It speaks of a “serious disappointment… that the last three entries at PressThink are taken up with the Eason Jordan flap,” which is “[Hugh] Hewitt’s hobbyhorse for the last couple of weeks now.” I am called the “enabler of that agenda in giving the issue such sustained and exclusive attention.”
Judge for yourself. In my first post about Eason Jordan I said I was reserving judgment, and I provided links to eyewitness accounts so readers could judge… or reserve. In my second I gave some background on the political nature of Jordan’s job, and the diplomacy it requires. In the third I published without comment the statement of an eyewitness, Richard Sambrook of the BBC, generally seen as friendly to Jordan. Am I enabling his agenda?
Comparison: Here is a journalist writing about the “Jeff Gannon” storm, and devoting to it quite a lot of space. Is Dan Froomkin stoking the flames with this kind of attention? Not in my view.
Yet I think the fear and disgust in A1’s phrase, “Blogstorm troopers” is part of the blogging story now. (See this and this, for example.) Whether you agree or not in the case of Jordan’s remarks, suspicion of the blog swarm is not crazy or wrong, and fear of mob-like actions by bloggers and others online is going to continue to speak to people, for the same reason invasions of privacy by the press always speak across ideological divides. It doesn’t take much to imagine the mob coming at you.
On the other hand:
Media critic [Jack] Shafer said the sheer immensity of the blog response forced the story onto newspaper front pages. “What they were practicing was virtuous pack journalism,” he said. “Everybody thinks pack journalism is bad, but sometimes, like on 9/11, you want a pack. This was pack journalism at its best.”
3. Gate Think.
Attaching the suffix “gate” to things is not something you will catch PressThink doing. (If you do, alert me right away.) It’s lazy and it’s dumb. Call X a “gate” before X has much event-ness at all and you’re halfway to a ginned-up controversy. You’ve launched another cliché. All “gate” narratives arrive pre-banalized, their scandals in a sense pre-lived. (“It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up!” for example, or Joe Scarborough: “There’s a cancer growing at CNN…”)
If it’s all dubbed Easongate we don’t have to think of a description that fits what’s actually known. The shorthand wants to short circuit; that’s the strength of “gate” thinking. It’s not that I know how to title such a story: What Eason Jordan Said is about the best I can do. And as a tactical move, another day at the office in scandal culture, Easongate works perfectly well. That’s the problem.
4. “CNN was not interested in taking on this fight.”
I was asked, as I know others were, whether I wanted to defend Eason Jordan on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes, Feb. 9th. I said no thank you. I thought someone who worked with him should do that.
But Fox producers had a better idea. They got Danny Schechter of MediaChannel, who felt there was a case to be made for journalists as targets because he had aired that case in his documentary film, Weapons of Mass Deception. He had already “reached out,” as he put it, to Eason Jordan.
Schechter, a former producer at both CNN and ABC, now an independent with his own production company, had asked Jordan to “help me get on CNN to discuss and debate the issue.” At his News Dissector blog, Schechter wrote:
I was hoping CNN might call and we reached out to Lou Dobbs and Aaron Brown to no avail.
I guess CNN was not interested in taking on this fight.
But Fox News was. Fox is always at war with CNN which it brands as a liberal network, a label CNN does not want or like. And so Fox scheduled a segment and asked if I was interested. When I told them I had a film documenting the attack on the Palestine Hotel, they were doubly interested.
This is an important observation about Fox. There are certain situations in which Fox is the network more open to controversial ideas, or in “taking on” a fight, as Schechter put it. “Conservative bloggers went into action by criticizing the rest of the media for not covering the story,” he wrote. “Their assumption: Jordan is lying.” His: Jordan has reason to worry, if you look at what’s happened to journalists in Iraq.
Eason, seemingly shaken by all the heat coming down on him for discussing something that many journalists and press freedom groups like the International Federation of Journalists has been discussing, began to withdraw from the controversy he stirred.
Schechter was willing to advance the controversy: “That there’s been a policy that has favored embedded journalists over independent journalists, that many Arab journalists were hassled, harassed and killed in Iraq under suspicious circumstances.” (Audio from Hannity and Colmes; transcript.)
I asked him whether it was easier to get ideas like that onto Fox News Channel, as compared to the other networks. “Fox likes to have people they perceive as hardliners on,” he said. “For example years ago Jeff Cohen of Fair was a regular on their press show but he could never get on CNN Cross Fire. They like polarization and heat. They want their viewers to see liberals as radicals and often have on radicals who they call liberals.”
And what about CNN, where he once worked? “CNN is more timid, aiming at insiders, as moderate and reasonable, etc…. more controlled.” It’s strange, but Schechter’s defense of CNN’s Eason Jordan may have only been possible on Fox. As Rebecca MacKinnon put it, “CNN turns its back on its own.”
5. Blog Storm Skepticism.
Steve Lovelady, managing editor of CJR Daily (formerly Campaign Desk) e-mailed PressThink with a reaction to the blog storm, and criticism of one of its leaders, Hugh Hewitt, who has broadcast the Jordan story on several platforms— his blog, his radio show, a television appearence with Chris Matthews, the Weekly Standard. Lovelady, formerly an editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Wall Street Journal among other stops, doesn’t trust what he’s seeing:
I have to confess, this tempest in a teapot that Hugh Hewitt is trying to stir up over Eason Jordan leaves me baffled. First, Eason has already said his remarks were misinterpreted, and that he was not imputing intent.
But he’s more than a little dismayed by the number of reporters killed by friendly fire, and why shouldn’t he be? If he weren’t, he would be shirking his job as a boss who regularly has to send reporters into harm’s way. Furthermore, it’s not like Eason is the first to bring up this issue. Two highly-regarded professional organizations, the Committee to Protect Journalists (“Permission to Fire”) and Reporters Without Borders (“Two Murders and a Life”), have issued reports on this problem.
And numerous blogs and websites have done their own work, most recently Resonant Information. Hugh needs to come out of his conservative cocoon and get a life— not to mention a more comprehensive reading list.
This whole matter really exasperates me — and makes me think all over again that all too many bloggers (Hugh Hewitt foremost among them) are little more than the equivalent of the idiots lined up at any sports bar critiquing the athletes giving up their hearts and their guts on the playing field.
Lovelady posted similar text at Romenesko’s Letters column (Feb. 10, 2:40 pm) which means he wanted to be heard. I asked Hewitt if he wanted to reply. This is what he sent:
1. The tape should be released and it will answer all questions. I do not believe Jordan’s comments are harmless, and I suspect Senator Christopher Dodd’s “outrage” is the reaction that most Americans would have if they heard the tape;
2. Given Jordan’s comments to another foreign audience —in Portugal, and quoted in the November 19 Guardian, the burden of proof is clearly on Jordan to show he was not enagaged in anti-American pandering. Does Lovelady believe the tape should be released? Either he favors the public being given the facts, or he favors a cover-up. Jordan’s silence on the release of the tape tells us a great deal about the tenor of his remarks.
3. At least three of the bloggers runing Easongate are veterans, and it is my belief that their outrage is a reflection of widespread outrage among the military at being falsely slimed as at best undisciplined and at worst as murderers. I think defenders of Jordan need to understand they are defending the practice of side swiping the military.
6. Who Broke the Story?
Almost all accounts of this event, including my own, begin with the eyewitness account by Rony Albovitz, Jan. 28 at the World Economic Forum’s blog. As Robert Cox put it, “this is a truly blogger-driven story since the original reporting was on the official WEF blog.”
That’s what I thought, too. It’s what everyone thought. But that claim has come under question and no one seems to have noticed. According to the New York Sun’s story (Feb. 8):
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.
Turns out a Mr. Stephens of the Wall Street Journal editorial page broke the story, not Rony Abovitz, the blogger whom I just saw on MSNBC. Did you catch that? Bret Stephens put the news in an e-mail newsletter available by subscription from the Wall Street Journal, the Political Diary. It is not on the Web. The Sun reporter was incorrect: The Diary is not a blog. You cannot link to it. It comes to your IN box if you pay the freight ($3.95 a month.)
Pretty straight forward as a business proposition. As a journalism proposition, not so simple. That you can break stories in a private e-mail newsletter, and never mind whether word reaches other writers, or the Web, or the Wall Street Journal itself… this is not self-evident to me. It sounds rather 1983. What does Roderick Boyd of the Sun mean when he says “Mr. Stephens broke the news of Mr. Jordan’s statements,” when, as far as the entire online discussion knew, the story originated in this account on the Web? (See his note on it in the After section.)
I asked some bloggers and no one had the Political Diary item. So LaShawn Barber posted about it, and one of her readers sent it in— the account Bret Stephens penned for publication on Jan. 28, the same date that Rony Abovitz posted Do US Troops Target Journalists in Iraq? at the Forumblog. Barber ran the Diary item, which I re-post here. This would have gone to several thousand e-mail subscribers.
DAVOS: Is the American military deliberately killing foreign journalists including Western journalists covering Iraq?
Yes, they are, says Eason Jordan, Chief News Executive of CNN News. Or, rather, no, they’re not. Or, perhaps, maybe, sort of, in a sneaky kind of way. Speaking at a panel session on democracy and the media at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Mr. Jordan startled his audience and fellow panelists— including Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank and former presidential aide David Gergen—by implying as much.
First, he noted that of the 60-odd journalists killed in Iraq, 12 had been targeted and killed by Coalition forces. Then he offered the story of an 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. Mr. Frank, the liberal Democrat Congressman, asked Mr. Jordan to be more specific: Had U.S. forces actually killed foreign journalists on purpose? And had CNN done a story about it? Well, no, CNN hadn’t done a story on that specifically. And, no, he didn’t himself believe the U.S. government had a policy to target journalists. And besides, the [U.S.] generals and colonels have their heart in the right place.
So what remained of the allegation? “There are people who believe there are people in the military who have it out” for journalists, said Mr. Jordan. He then offered another anecdote: A reporter who’d been standing in a long line to get through a checkpoint at Baghdad’s Green Zone had been turned back by the GI on duty. Apparently the soldier had been displeased with the reporter’s dispatches, and sent him to the back of the line.
It isn’t often that we feel grateful for Barney Frank. But had he not spoken up, Mr. Jordan’s vague remarks might have been left to stand— further proof, to the global elites assembled here, of the depths of American perfidy. Bret Stephens
Apparently, Boyd of the Sun says Stephens of the Journal broke the story because most of the major facts are in there. But I think a story breaks when it becomes public knowledge, when it is subject to public discussion. An e-mail newsletter like Political Diary (which is not archived on the web) circulates news among a limited group, not the public-at-large. That’s the whole point. Such products are often sold as “inside knowledge,” valuable because the material is not broadly known.
It’s odd (to me) that Stephens remained mum about his scoop as What Eason Said began to circulate and provoke reaction on line. When you break a story, don’t you usually stay with it as it gets bigger? Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s legendary editorial page, which had a man on the scene, who presumably had notes (since his piece had quotes), and the page is watching from the sidelines as a wave of interest in the story—arguably his story—built, with bloggers attempting to contact those who were on the scene, anyone who might have had notes or recollections.
From author Stephens, from the Journal’s news report, from the Editorial Page where he works, and all its columnists, there is nothing—the bloggers are given custody of the matter—until today, two days after Howard Kurtz published his account at the Washington Post.
Say you’re on the Editorial Page staff of the Journal, the people in charge of winning the war of ideas. You’ve let Kurtz scoop you in the newspaper press, even though you had the story (and the story is primo original culture war material!) Then you send Bret Stephens, who sat out the story for 12 days, into the game with a Commentary for the WSJ. Rational behavior, I’m sure. But what’s the rationale?
The title of today’s commentary: “Easongate.”
There’s a reason the hounds are baying. Already they have feasted on the juicy entrails of Dan Rather. Mr. Jordan, whose previous offenses (other than the general tenor of CNN coverage) include a New York Times Op-ed explaining why access is a more important news value than truth, was bound to be their next target. And if Mr. Jordan has now made a defamatory and unsubstantiated allegation against U.S. forces, well then … open the gates.
By chance, I was in the audience of the World Economic Forum’s panel discussion where Mr. Jordan spoke. What happened was this…
Well, perhaps it wasn’t entirely by chance. Anyone have an idea why the Journal held on to this eyewitness, ceding the story to bloggers, until now? I’m all ears. (See Michelle Malkin on the Stephens piece.)
“The blogosphere has reported on this from day one, and refuses to stop,” wrote CNBC’s Lawrence Kudlow at his blog, Money Politics. The opinion sphere at the WSJ reported on this from day one, too, and then refused to start up. I wonder what Larry Kudlow thinks about that.
After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…
Hugh Hewitt in the Weekly Standard: “The folks paying attention are spread out across the political spectrum, from Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, and Mickey Kaus on the left to all the usual suspects on the right, where Michelle Malkin and LaShawn Barber merit special recognition for pushing the story forward.”
Mitch Ratcliffe: “Coverage without endorsement is called ‘news.’”
Q. “Nothing on Jeff Gannon, Jay? Nothing at all?” Oliver Willis in the comments.
A: I will write about this; it’s a bigger story than Eason Jordan because it’s about the White House and how it operates.
Meanwhike, Timothy Karr’s Gannon’s White House Maneuver is totally on top of it. Impressive. Also Eric Boehlert in Salon: “Questions remain.”
From the Hollywood Reporter account of the episode:
“Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the U.S. military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of ‘mistaken identity,’” the CNN statement said. (Feb. 11.)
Military & media blogger Tim Schmoyer (Sisyphus) points out that Steve Lovelady’s letter to Romenesko had some vivid and additional language:
Such Internet dilettantes need to get a life.
More importantly, they also need to do a little elementary research before they sound off from the comfort of foundation sinecures, or sequestered law offices, or academic preserves, about men and women — some of whom do not come back — who venture out every day, at great peril and under fire, to report back the truth. It’s time we distinguish here the warriors from the sideline commentators and bloviators.
Eason is concerned with the warriors. I’m with him.
“Why wouldn’t the managing director of the Columbia Journalism Review Daily call on Eason Jordan to release the tape?” writes Sisyphus. “You embarrass yourself, Mr. Lovelady.”
“We all do our part. Welcome to mine.” That’s N.Z. Bear introducing his attempt at “tracking the coverage of the Eason Jordan controversy across the blogosphere.” He charts all mentions of the story and ranks the blogs attending to it. Check out this list.
Bill Roggio of the insta blog Easongate e-mails with an alert to his Motivations post, which contains some regrets about what I have called “gate think” and the merchandising of scandal by nomenclature such as this.
Jim stated his only complaint is the use of the “gate” in the name of the blog. To be perfectly honest, I agree with him… we kicked some names around, but this story was destined to be labeled “Easongate”. I liked Captain’s Quarters “Eason’s Fables” much better, but the story was beginning to be called Easongate, and here we are. I also dislike calling this current war we are fighting “The War on Terror”, but the name has stuck and there is no going back.
I think anyone who starts a controversy blog and includes a post called Motivations deserves a certain readership for that decision alone. Here’s Easongate’s post on Purpose, also a good practice to follow for new sites.
Hugh Hewitt as his blog says gets your terms right. He doesn’t use “blog storm,” a sad coinage, he says. It’s blog swarm. “Opinion storms follow blog swarms.”
Did Rony Albovitz break the story? “Hello, Rod Boyd here of the NY Sun,” reads the e-mail I just got. (I had said that Boyd erred in calling Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal the One who Broke the Story.) He writes:
As a reporter—and a former grad student, I am very conscious of trampling the work of others, so I always look to cite my peers when warranted. Call this the ghost of Jayson Blair. In short, since i wasn’t at Davos, I was seeking to cite someone. Good intentions, but I suspect I omitted something.
The first account I read of this was Bret Stephens of the WSJ. What I didn’t do was establish that Rony Albovitz, WEF blogger extraodinaire, had posted his account several hours prior to the Politcal Diary’s release. Given that Political Diary goes out to thousands of readers, many of whom are media or once-removed from major media, I’m not sure that it’s as private as all that, but the point is taken: it’s not directly linkable. I suppose no real harm was done and pehaps the truth is in the middle: Rony’s was the first post on a chronological basis, but Bret’s was the first bearing the imprimatur of a major media organ.
Still, i should lob an email to Rony and note the distinction.
Thanks for keeping me honest.
Thanks for explaining, Rod. It appears Rony Albovitz broke the story.
Betsy Devine: “We bloggers think of ourselves as individuals. When we team up to report on a shared news story, we need to start thinking about the human impact of an possible swarm of people following our lead.” Blogswarm reporting and the new public figure.
Larry Kudlow turned his blog post into a National Review column: Eason Jordan vs. the Blogosphere.
Tragedy of the Comments
In a thread to an earlier Jordan-in-Davos post, I wrote:
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.
Posted by Jay Rosen at February 10, 2005 11:32 PM
A good number of PressThink readers think I am in error for tracking the Eason Jordan story as closely as I have. By writing about the furor I am voting for it, and in some sense endorsing it, they say. (See this comment thread.) It's an argument worth having. Today's post at the blog Reading A1 is called Blogstorm troopers. It speaks of a "serious disappointment... that the last three entries at PressThink are taken up with the Eason Jordan flap," which is "[Hugh] Hewitt's hobbyhorse for the last couple of weeks now." I am called the "enabler of that agenda in giving the issue such sustained and exclusive attention."
Jay, do you know what an "enabler" is? Because your "judge for yourself" defense is a perfect example of "enabling" behavior.
You set yourself up as some sort of "intellectual/academic" authority on Journalism and the Internet, get invited to all the big pow-wows where "experts" bloviate at length, etc. This provides you with "access" and "credibility" among "serious" bloggers and journalists. Furthermore, you are a "discriminating" blogger (as opposed to the the Glenn Reynolds type of blogger who throws as much shit on the wall as possible to see what sticks); when you write about a topic, you are saying that you consider it an important, if not essential, issue.
So when you write about the Eason Jordan dustup, you are signalling to a much wider "serious" audience that the issue is substantive, and when you obsess over it by doing three (now four) separate pieces on it (and ignore other breaking 'internet and journalism' related controversies) you are signalling to the "serious" audience that it is an essential issue to discuss.
And by now, you are certainly aware that this is a complete "non-story"; as some "real reporters" have noted, people they talk to often make mistakes in expressing themselves, and a real reporter will not use a 'damning' statement if the person makes it clear that the 'damning' quote is not what the person meant. And because it was clear from the very beginning that Jordan had pulled back from any "damning" statement immediately upon being challenged, there was really nothing to report.
None of the rightloons that you are pandering to are really interested in the real issues raised by Jordan---the fact that journalists, especially Arab/Muslim journalists, have been targeted for harrassment, detention, and at times even torture, and that the US military has shown a reckless disregard for the lives of working journalists in Iraq.
(Indeed, an even larger issue is raised here --- how the US occupation has resulted in an insurgency, and how the US protects its forces so well that the insurgents can only effectively attack Iraqis who support the US. The reckless disregard for journalists is really only a sliver of the US's reckless disregard for the lives of anyone who is not an American involved in the occupation. )
Instead, the rightloons like Hewitt talk about how Jordan "sideswiped" the US military. Of course, these same rightloons fully support Bushco's policies that represent a head-on collision for the US military, not just a "sideswipe", so its obvious that they have another agenda.
Here is a question for you --- imagine its a year ago (i.e. pre-Abu Ghraib), and Eason Jordan said that the US military had a policy of torturing Iraqi prisoners, and when challenged on that, backtracked on the "policy" statement, while still expressing concern about the evidence that the US is engaging in torture of Iraqis.
Is there any doubt in your mind that Hugh Hewitt and the rest of the rightloons would have treated that statement any differently than they are treating the "targetting journalists" statement? Can you honestly say that these same rightloons would not be calling for Jordan's head after making that allegation?
Nothing on Jeff Gannon, Jay? Nothing at all?
I expect that Jay will get around to mentioning Gannon at some point....and probably take Gannon's side in the matter because he hasn't bothered to purson this story, and will doubtless think that the research efforts directed at Gannon by bloggers and Kos diarists were directed at his personal life.
They weren't, of course. There was an underlying assumption that Gannon was using an alias because of something that would connect him to the White House/GOP/CIA, not because of personal indiscretions, and that is why so much effort was put into determining Gannon's real name. When it was discovered that Gannon was, in fact, JD Guckert, people looked for information on Guckert, and found the gay military hustler photo.
And quite frankly, I don't think that anyone involved cares that much about gay prostitution per se. They do care about the question of how a gay hustler wound up writing anti-gay screeds for GOPUSA, and how that same gay hustler wound up with White House press credentials under an assumed name---for a news organization that existed for less than a week at the time those credentials were first issued.
Its pretty obvious that someone very high up the White House food chain had to vouch for Gannon; there is simply no way in the post 9/11 environment that the Secret Service is going to allow someone using an alias from a completely unknown news operation anywhere near the President or other White House officials who could show up in the press room at a moments notice. And the GOPUSA connection is a Texas connection, which strongly suggests that someone like Rove was the person who said to give credentials to Gannon.
But Jay, when he does find it unavoidable to maintain his silence on the Gannon matter probably won't mention any of this. Indeed, he is likely to take the "Jarvis" approach, and ask try to create an equivalence between the Gannon story and the Jordan non-story.
Of course, Jay could surprise us all, and admit that he has been remiss in focussing on Jordan and ignoring Gannon, and discuss the real issues involved here. And it would be nice if he also noted that this was an ad hoc, grassroots efforts by "commenters" (diarists) on Kos's site, and was not even lead by Kos himself, and was done in a manner that reflected the highest standards of intellectual honesty and integrity.
Hopefully, Jay will demand that the people behind this effort in the Kos diaries are afforded the same kind of respect and recognition that far less rigorous and honest wingnuts like Hindrocket and LGF have gotten from the mainstream media, and make sure that the next big academic conference that he is invited to includes one of these diarists, rather than a rightloon who published ever rumor without any substantiation whatsoever with regard to "memogate."
I see that Jay hasn't cited one of the most highly respected progressive bloggers' (Dave Niewart, of Orcinus) comments on the Jordan non-story, so I'll provide the full text here....
The right wing pundit class, both in the mainstream media and blogosphere, is all aflame with fake outrage over Eason Jordan's remarks at Davos about journalists supposedly being targeted by American soldiers.
Rather than waiting to see (1) exactly what it was that Jordan said, and (2) whether or not he has any evidence or can otherwise back up the remarks, the rabid right wants its pound of flesh now. We allow no anti-Americanism around here! (Just ask Ward Churchill.)
What has proceeded apace is a classic right-wing blogosphere witchhunt. Some have even put together an "Easongate" blog. It's obvious that, after "Rathergate," right-wing bloggers have concluded that the way to make a name for yourself is to take down someone from the "MSM," even if it's a little-known executive for a cable network. They're calling for his dismissal, as are members of the D.C. conservative pundit class.
These people aren't outraged. They're hunting pelts.
The most interesting example of this came earlier this week on CNBC's Kudlow and Cramer show, when Ann Coulter [MSN software download req'd] had this to say about the dustup:
Kudlow: I've got a couple of seconds before the break, when you guys are all going to come back -- Ann, I just wanted to give you first whack at this: Eason Jordan, top news executive at CNN -- I mean, to me, this is absolutely incredible, this guy says, at a big conference in Davos, that the U.S. military is deliberately targeting and assassinating American journalists? Huh?! He still has a job? Huh?! You got a take on that?
Coulter: Would that it were so.
Kudlow: That what were so?
Coulter: That the American military were targeting journalists.
Kudlow: (Laughter) Oh no! Don't go there! (More laughter.)
This, of course, follows Ann's previous remarks wishing that Tim McVeigh had targeted the New York Times Building. At some point, it should become clear to everyone that she's not really joking at all.
So, as long as we're wondering why certain figures still have jobs, what about Lawrence Kudlow? How long do you suppose any liberal pundit would last if he chortled loudly after one of his liberal guests wished "jokingly" that American soldiers had targeted journalists? Or, for that matter, that the 9/11 terrorists had crashed their plane into Fox News headquarters?
I know, I know. I just don't have a sense of humor.
I wonder why.
[Note to Kudlow: From all reports, Jordan didn't refer to American journalists being targeted. Most of his later remarks seem to suggest he had Al Jazeera and other journalists in mind. Not that facts seem to be your strong suit anyway.]
Poor Jay. Take one hand off the leftwing bar and you're immediately an apostate. We'll probably be hearing Barney Frank isn't really a liberal soon enough.
This was not an isolated statement by Jordan. He has made the same accusation at other overseas venues. And yet —
CNN has never reported on this story in the US
CNN has never pulled its staff out of Iraq, even though Jordan alleged repeatedly he knew they were in danger from US troops.
Why would he make such a claim and then not act on it? Either:
He has proof and is suppressing it, thereby betraying those of you on the left, or
He has no proof, in which case he is lying to everybody else, whether out of some insular lefty media sense of purpose or to curry favor in foreign markets.
Five eyewitnesses have confirmed what he is alleged to say. Either they are all lying or he is.
Davos says it will not release the tape, to preserve its "commitment" to "off the record." Yet they certainly could have released an excerpt of Eason's statements without compromising anyone else's statements. Did Eason or CNN demand this? We don't know. Would Eason not have demanded this if his taped statements excuplated him? Of course he would have. Would Davos have released his own words id he requested it. It beggars credulity to think otherwise. And yet that never happened.
The only reasonable assumption is the eyewitnesses are telling the truth and Eason Jordan is lying. None of the attempts to rationalize what he "meant" effectively address that, here or elsewhere, and many of them blatantly misrepresent statements from Jordan, according to the eyewitnesses and in the public record from other events.
Eason Jordan, a major player in American broadcast news, suppressed a story and lied about it. He had to go. The news industry was and remains incapable of policing its own without the vigorous oversight of the public it alleges to serve. That is the lesson of this affair.