This is an archive, please visit for current posts.
PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
Recent Entries
Like PressThink? More from the same pen:

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

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

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

"Web Users Open the Gates." My take on ten years of Internet journalism, at

Read: Q & As

Jay Rosen, interviewed about his work and ideas by journalist Richard Poynder

Achtung! Interview in German with a leading German newspaper about the future of newspapers and the Net.

Audio: Have a Listen

Listen to an audio interview with Jay Rosen conducted by journalist Christopher Lydon, October 2003. It's about the transformation of the journalism world by the Web.

Five years later, Chris Lydon interviews Jay Rosen again on "the transformation." (March 2008, 71 minutes.)

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

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

Video: Have A Look

Half hour video interview with Robert Mills of the American Microphone series. On blogging, journalism, NewAssignment.Net and distributed reporting.

Jay Rosen explains the Web's "ethic of the link" in this four-minute YouTube clip.

"The Web is people." Jay Rosen speaking on the origins of the World Wide Web. (2:38)

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

Recommended by PressThink:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebecca's Pocket by Rebecca Blood is a weblog by an exemplary practitioner of the form, who has also written some critically important essays on its history and development, and a handbook on how to blog.

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

A former senior editor at Pantheon, Tom Englehardt solicits and edits commentary pieces that he publishes in blog form at TomDispatches. High-quality political writing and cultural analysis.

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

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue is journalist Debbie Galant's nifty experiment in hyper-local blogging in several New Jersey towns. Hers is one to watch if there's to be a future for the weblog as news medium.

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

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

PJ Net Today is written by Leonard Witt and colleagues. It's the weblog of the Public Journalisn Network (I am a founding member of that group) and it follows developments in citizen-centered journalism.

Here's Simon Waldman's blog. He's the Director of Digital Publishing for The Guardian in the UK, the world's most Web-savvy newspaper. What he says counts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Group Blogs

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

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

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

Digests & Round-ups:

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

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

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

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

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

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

Syndicate this site:

XML Summaries

XML Full Posts

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.

Pandering, CNN-Style

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   Print


Hello Jay,

To the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sun is really a sun; to the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sea is really a sea ...

In this context, you may czech out today's an article by Richard Ackland in the Sydney Morning Herald; The Golden Chain & Unholy gains: There's a cluster of internet servers in South Brunswick, New Jersey, that is at the heart of more than its fair share of international grief and litigation. These are the servers used by Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Barron's magazine and other organs, for the online editions of its publications. Publish on the net and be damned - but only in Australia

Posted by: Jozef Imrich at February 11, 2005 3:13 AM | Permalink

Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, and Mickey Kaus ON THE LEFT!? How does that feel?

It's hard not to spit up your drink when Hewitt hallucinates in public like this.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 11, 2005 3:16 AM | Permalink

I think you're right to frame the blog storm trooper angle as part of the story. You are also right that it is still a pretty squirrely story. The section on Fox is right on target. They are willing to take up fights. I was invited on Hewitt's radio program last month for the same reason. Welcome to the lefty club!

CNN and the rest of the networks are busy running off with their tails between their shaky network legs. That is a BIG part of the story. You nailed something important here.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 11, 2005 3:23 AM | Permalink

What is this fixation that Mark Anderson has about Hugh Hewitt ? Every post he makes slates Hewitt but adds nothing to the discussion about Eason Jordan himself.

Posted by: JohninLondon at February 11, 2005 5:34 AM | Permalink

Ouch, I forgot to add earlier the links of note compiled by Memeorandum:

Eason Parachute

Posted by: Jozef Imrich at February 11, 2005 7:05 AM | Permalink

Hopefully this will work:

Posted by: Jozef Imrich at February 11, 2005 7:08 AM | Permalink

In schools, people are not usually educated to separate "the problem" from "the problem of dealing with the problem" -- to be able to say, "Both are important, and we will deal with each of them in turn. Which one do you prefer to deal with first?"

This is the skill to be able to think about thinking. It's a process called recursion. Learn it. Use it. People think recursively -- which is powerful, slippery, and a double edged sword. The Eason Jordan incident has elements that are easily labeled as "problem" or "problem of dealing with the problem", but people haven't the habit and slip too easily from one level to the other at the expense of dealing well with each.

As this incident finally slips into main stream media, not only will the confusion increase, but addressing "the problem with dealing with the problem" will, sometimes coincidentally and sometimes purposefully, be used as deflective cover to avoid the underlying issue: Did he say it? Did he mean it? What did he mean? Does he understand the consequences of what he said?

Play this game: identify those among the commenting swarm who duck under the cover of words like right-wing blogswarm to avoid the underlying issue.

We owe it to our readers to help them identify, sort and label the problem from the problem of dealing with the problem... and then to help them deal with each.

Posted by: sbw at February 11, 2005 8:10 AM | Permalink

You're right. Easongate is really inappropriate. I vote for Easonquiddick.

Posted by: greg at February 11, 2005 8:57 AM | Permalink

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?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 11, 2005 8:58 AM | Permalink

CNN admitted producing biased reports from Saddam's Iraq, are they doing the same from the West Bank and Gaza?

CNN admitted that they suppressed negative stories about Iraq before the US led liberation of that country. The reasons they suppressed such stories (threats from the old regime) applied to all news organizations so it is likely that other news organization also suppressed such stories.

This is a scandal because news organization were in a situation where their reporting led to a false understanding among their customers. There can be no journalistic ethic that would support this situation so the only explanation is that it was done due to a profit motive. CNN thought it would make more money with biased reports than with no reports.

What I am very curious about is that despite the disclosure of this by CNN, are there other locations in the world where the same situation applies today, ie that reporters are not able to report accurately because of fear, yet news organizations continue to disseminate biased reports in order to make money?

I think there is obviouslly at least one location where this is going on: the West Bank and Gaza regions of Israel.

I think it would be interesting if the main stream media was forced to confront this issue.

Posted by: anonymous at February 11, 2005 9:02 AM | Permalink

addressing "the problem with dealing with the problem" will, sometimes coincidentally and sometimes purposefully, be used as deflective cover to avoid the underlying issue: Did he say it? Did he mean it? What did he mean? Does he understand the consequences of what he said?

of course, like most rightloons, this guy thinks that the "real issue" is what Jordan said, rather than Jordan's actual concerns. The fact that there is a great deal of evidence that the US is harrassing, detaining, and at times torturing journalists (especially journalists working for Arab/Muslim news media) is a complete non-issue to the rightloons. The implications of US treatment of these journalists is also ignored---even though such treatment is practically guaranteed to result in even more negative coverage of the occupation seen by international audiences.

No, all that is important is that after Bushco engineered a head-on collision for the US military vehicle, someone at CNN side-swiped the vehicle.

Jay, you really need to explain precisely why an extemporaneous "damning" statement that was immediately retracted upon being challenged is worthy of so much attention---and why you have yet to take the rightloons like Hewitt to task for ignoring the evidence that the US military has detained and tortured journalists in Iraq. That, and the impact such actions have on coverage of the occupation by non-US corporate media has on the perception of the rest of the world, is the real issue here.

But Hewitt and the rest of your buddies get to ignore that issue, while you question the "mainstream media's" failure to give blanket coverage to the precise wording of Jordan's statement, and demand that the tape be released.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 11, 2005 9:10 AM | Permalink

CNN admitted producing biased reports from Saddam's Iraq, are they doing the same from the West Bank and Gaza?

First off, CNN did not admit that they produced biased reporting, only that they did not report on otherwise newsworthy stories about the repressive nature of the Iraqi regime. Since there was no dearth of reporting on the nature of the Iraqi regime, it really isn't a big deal.

Secondly, CNN was merely acknowledging doing in Iraq what every news organization does what it takes to maintain access. The question you ask about coverage of the West Bank/Gaza could also be asked about CNN's White House coverage. Anyone who has ever watched Candy Crowley knows that she is doing everything in her power to suck up to the Bush regime in order to maintain her relationships with "anonymous" sources in the White House. But rightloons like yourself don't focus on the "policy" that virtually all major media outlets have of sucking up to Bushco....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 11, 2005 9:18 AM | Permalink

Nothing on Jeff Gannon, Jay? Nothing at all? And Hewitt's definition of "the left" is beyond laughable.

Posted by: owillis [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2005 10:04 AM | Permalink

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."

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 11, 2005 10:48 AM | Permalink

> The fact that there is a great deal of evidence that the US is harrassing, detaining, and at times torturing journalists (especially journalists working for Arab/Muslim news media) is a complete non-issue to the rightloons.

If that's the case, why is it wrong to learn whether Eason said that? Why shouldn't we know whether he spoke that truth? Why isn't a good thing to get that issue onto a broader stage, which will happen if Eason said it?

Posted by: Andy Freeman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2005 11:00 AM | Permalink

Paul L.,

You have much of interest to say about both the Jordan story and the Gannon story.

I do worry that your need to spit venom at your host may chase away some readers before they get to the pithier parts of your comments.

Let's just agree here that Jay is hopeless hack, that he is in league with scoundrels with whom he only pretends to disagree, and that his status as professor of journalism gives him no grounds whatsoever to set himself up as "some sort of 'intellectual/academic' authority" on that subject.

With that out of the way, I look forward to his work on Gannon.

Posted by: Ed Cone at February 11, 2005 11:19 AM | Permalink

Jay, I think that 'entirely by chance' deserves more explanation than what amounts to a blind link.

I originally agreed with your reservation of judgement until such time as the cumulative eyewitnesses gave a pretty good idea of what was said combined with the tape being supressed. Given the witnesses and the lack of calls for the tape, there is another story...the story of why the tape is not being pursued and made public.

That is where Bret Stephens undisclosed affiliations with the WEF, and recent nomination to an elite WEF organisation with Eason Jordan himself on the board is worthy of mention. The whole point of the elite pow-wows like Davos is to build personal connections among the elites. Disclosing those links is important to jounralistic integrity.

Finally, would it be possible to put the 'posted by' at the top of comments rather than the bottom so I can skip p. lukasiaks worthless rants? I'm here for intelligent discussion.

Posted by: Blanknoone at February 11, 2005 11:34 AM | Permalink

As a technical aside, Hewitt (or whomever dumped his story online) managed to mess up the links to "the Left": Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, and Mickey Kaus, but got the "usual suspects on the right" links correct. Actually, the only broken links in the whole piece are to the three 'leftist' writers.

Conspiracy!!! Or technical goof? I'll go with goof but they sure create good bias fodder...

Posted by: ToddG at February 11, 2005 11:38 AM | Permalink

This is the most overblown nonstory in the history of blogdom (having now surpassed the Kerry intern nonstory). Jay, that's why you need to write about it. Somebody has to make sense on topics like this, and your blog is the first place I turn.

Posted by: David Crisp at February 11, 2005 11:41 AM | Permalink

OK, update, they have other broken links as well. A bit unseemly to have so many broken links in a piece about online journalism.... I guess we can cancel the conspiracy-watch and pin it on sloppiness.

Posted by: ToddG at February 11, 2005 11:41 AM | Permalink

I find the left ludicrous on this issue. The spend so much time trying to shift the story away from Mr Jordan. Actually if what Jordan said brought up that kind of reaction from Rep Frank and Sen Dodd as well as the congratulations from the anti-Americans at the conference, then either Jordan is too loose-lipped to hold the job he does or he was trying to float a story to see just how far he could push it. He has already tried to sell this one before and it didn't take and it looks like he is trying again. The blogs push it to the extent that Jordan needs to open the subject totally by showing the world the tape of the Davos meeting or providing the evidence to back up his statements or admit that he said things that were not true. The longer he waits to do something, the worse it will get for him.

As to the story on Gannon that the left seems to try to push to the limit, why did they not push the fact that the lover of Barney Frank ran a male whorehouse from Barney's apartment while Barney was at work? That little bit came out and then was pushed off the table immediately. Wonder why!!

Personally I think Jordan, after the admission he made about hiding stories about Saddam for years and now making unsubstantiated statements that he later tries to withdraw when he sees that he can't get the mileage he wants from them, is the wrong man in the wrong position. I hate that CNN pulls its punches in the way that it does. We news consumers deserve to get out news unvarnished and from both sides. I find that it is easy to get the liberal viewpoint from the MSM and easy to get the conservative from the blogs. I should not have to leave the MSM to get the unvarnished news but I do. Now seeing how Jordan is handling this issue, I can see why.

Posted by: dick at February 11, 2005 12:11 PM | Permalink


Frankly I think Eason Jordan is an idiot. But what I think is the real issue is the fact that very few in the MSM was willing to write this story or even investigate it.

As for the nonsense over Gannon. Really what is this guy's crime? That he has a nome de plume? That he registered a gay pron website? That he didn't ask a heavily weighted anti-Republican question?

And left-wing bloggers are crowing about this?

Color me deeply unimpressed.

Frankly when I hear someone mentioning "ethics" and "journalism" together, I can only laugh at them.

Posted by: ed at February 11, 2005 12:26 PM | Permalink

It would help greatly, I think, if we could impose a moratorium on right-left name-calling for a moment and focus on the public interest here. Here's the essential point: A grave accusation has been made by the head of the news division of one of the most powerful news organizations in the world.

Rather than present evidence for his allegations in a formal, systematic manner, he has supposedly-- we have only Howie Kurtz's reporting on this, no formal statement of any kind-- withdrawn the accusation. However, neither his organization nor he personally has given either the original accusation or his supposed withdrawal of it any support in the way of a public, thorough airing of the evidence, pro or con.

The result of this weaseling is the worst possible outcome: those who like the US military believe he has defamed the military with a lie; those who dislike the US military believe he has told the truth; he and his organization will not provide evidence and arguments to disabuse either of these contradictory beliefs. This has become the OJ trial without the trial: no testimony, evidence or verdict, just a summation by a now-you-hear-him, now-you-don't news executive, with partisans on both sides claiming vindication. One side says the military has it in for the media and the other says the media has it in for the military. Conspiracy theories are becoming ur-truths. Is this what CNN's unique power is supposed to bring?

Again, to be clear: I am not a blogger. I am not a conservative or a Republican. I am a citizen who has heard very grave accusations of war crimes leveled at my nation's military. It is imperative that those making such accusations either substantiate them or withdraw them, and if they are substantiated then Congress must investigate and punish the guilty and end such behavior by our military.

There is no splitting the difference here. Jordan is substituting the logic of marketing-- ie positioning his product differently for different markets-- for the logic of truth-telling.

Posted by: thibaud at February 11, 2005 12:36 PM | Permalink

Here's the essential point: A grave accusation has been made...

No, it hasn't. Whatever you interpreted as "a grave accusation" was withdrawn and clarified immediately.

End of story.

Posted by: tex at February 11, 2005 12:41 PM | Permalink

Slaying the Dragon Jordan and the MSM Abyss

Questions are being raised about where the blogosphere is going with Easongate and how we are going about it. As a blogger who has not called for any disciplinary action against Eason Jordan, I want to answer some of the critics and criticize some of my fellow bloggers.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2005 12:46 PM | Permalink

If Eason Jordan misspoke, then he needs to issue a public statement that clarifies for the public here and in Europe and the middle east what exactly he believes, based on the evidence, to be the truth. And if there is substantial evidence behind his original assertion, then-- regardless of his subsequent denials-- I want these charges investigated by Congress.

Posted by: thibaud at February 11, 2005 12:54 PM | Permalink

p.lukasiak quotes: "addressing "the problem with dealing with the problem" will, sometimes coincidentally and sometimes purposefully, be used as deflective cover to avoid the underlying issue: Did he say it? Did he mean it? What did he mean? Does he understand the consequences of what he said?"

... and then p.lukasiak replies: of course, like most rightloons, this guy thinks that the "real issue" is what Jordan said, rather than Jordan's actual concerns.

Thank you, p., for so precisely making my point. You alone seem to KNOW Jordan's actual concerns, and "knowing" them as you presume, you use them to attack. In technical jargon, it's known as "going off half-cocked."

You represent "the problem with dealing with the problem".

Posted by: sbw at February 11, 2005 1:03 PM | Permalink

Lovelady writes: "Eason is concerned with the warriors. I'm with him."

Err, no. Lovelady, and Eason are not concerned with the warriors. They are sliming the warriors. They are concerned (legitimately, I hasten to add) with the reporters who write about the warriors and about the executives who supervise the reporters who write about the warriors. The ones who are concerned about the actual warriors are the bloggers who are defending the warriors' honor (and, ultimately, their lives, since Eason Jordan's comments will only encourage our enemies to kill more Americans).

A little precision in the use of language might not be too much to expect from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Posted by: David Rogers at February 11, 2005 1:53 PM | Permalink

David Rogers,

That's an interesting point: reporters are not the warriors.

But Lovelady says they are, and that's interesting in itself.

Reporters as warriors. Warririors are combatants. He's not saying, "We're neutral." He's saying, even if he meant it metaphorically, reporters are there to fight. To engage, journalistically in war, as warriors.

Lovelady talks of Eason Jordan as one might talk of a General's concern for his troops who engage in combat.

Warriors have enemies, or euphemistically, adversaries. They engage in combat with those enemies. Is Lovelady saying that Jordan is concerned for his warriors he sends into combat with journalism's enemies?

I don't think journalists are warriors. Brave? Sure. But Lovelady says they're warriors and that's interesting. There's a truth in that about how Lovelady, and perhaps other journalists, think.

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2005 2:10 PM | Permalink

I think he's saying that the people who put their asses on the line by going over there, and who are in the field and potentially the line of fire--be they soliders, contractors, or journalists--are in one category. Those of us at home who are talking about their work, and the War, debating and consuming it, are in another.

Jordan he sees as having erred, if he erred at all, on the side of his troops in the field. A military blogger ought to pause before dismissing that. I believe that's part of Lovelady's point. Jordan was in the position of a general who couldn't protect his troops. His frustrations came from that.

Can you picture it?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 11, 2005 2:51 PM | Permalink

Jay Rosen,

Can I picture it? So much so that it's heartbreaking. That's why I find Jordan, running away from making his remarks at WEF public, so cowardly.

Does he really care? As I wrote in the previous thread with Mr. Sambrook, Catch 22? Eason Jordan could send every one of his reporters to safer assignments embedded with coalition forces in Iraq. The Pentagon recommends this. But he can't. He can't have just embedded journalists. He sends a number of his journalists into the line of fire, into the crossfire.

Notice that he has said the overwhelming majority of journalists killed in Iraq have not been from Coalition fire. Why wouldn't reporters, in their own interests and the civilians around them, slam an adversary that will not distinguish themselves from the civilian population, journalists and other noncombatants? Why not fight for that?

Reporters don't want to appear less than neutral, but when unembedded, they need to be clearly identifiable on the battlefield in a way that the international community will condemn the use of their "symbols" (like the Red Cross/Red Crescent).

Journalists aren't running around firefights with a bullseye on their chest, but they're not wearing an internationally recognized uniform or symbol either. And they're not empty handed either.

I do get frustrated when journalists complain the military doesn't take enough care not to kill unembedded journalists. I'm more than willing to risk my life to protect an embedded journalist. I'm even willing to risk my life to pull an unembedded journalist out of danger. Do you really think it's fair to demand that journalists put themselves at so much risk and criticize the side that does offer you internationally recognized safe alternatives?

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2005 3:06 PM | Permalink

Jay - fair point, but contrary to the one you argued in your post, "Eason Jordan's Job is the Political Job in TV News". You wrote,

"Eason Jordan is not the President but the Colin Powell of news at CNN, and his skills have to be diplomatic, as well as strategic. Therefore being diplomatic in what you say, especially in a public forum, is in the essence of his role."

Colin Powell, not Don Rumsfeld. Big difference, no?

Posted by: thibaud at February 11, 2005 3:08 PM | Permalink

To elaborate, when representing his country it's the diplomat's job to present evidence, to persuade, to make a case, as Powell attempted (rather incompetently) at the UN in 2003. It's not his job to "stick up for our side" or to make Rumsfeldian faux pas.

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

Let's face it, this comments section needs a filter. "Hide posts by X", or maybe a rating system akin to that used by boards like Slashdot (which keeps them from getting overrun with drivel). You don't have to go to full moderation but clearly the discussion is rapidly declining in usefulness to anyone.

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

You got me on shifting my metaphors, but I was trying to describe what I said was a complex job at the intersection of news, government, media, military. He is "like" a politician, "like" a diplomat, "like" a general too. I am just trying to slow down your understanding so it might pick up more of the track. Don't you get it yet? That's why half of you come here. To slow your own conclusions down.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 11, 2005 3:15 PM | Permalink

Jay again:

"It's a political job and this is Eason Jordan's political philosophy. It has global reach. And big implications for a journalism of global voices. But he's no per-fessor. He has to speak with a diplomat's tongue, in all situations, and certainly the World Economic Forum is one. These are facts to keep in mind if there is a tape, and you are interested enough to listen."

I'm all ears. But I suspect that if we ever hear what's on the tape we'll get no more fact-based truth from Jordan on this q than the UN got from Powell on the q of Saddam's WMD.

Posted by: thibaud at February 11, 2005 3:26 PM | Permalink


You must ignore Hugh Hewitt and not go on his show. He can't tell the difference between self-promotion and Christian redemption.

Interacting with him in any way suggests that he is worth listening to. He is not. Turn your back on him.

Posted by: anonymous at February 11, 2005 3:57 PM | Permalink

Fabulous post.

I'm intrigued by the notion of 'blogswarm warfare'. This is not a term I've heard used on the left, and I'm only starting to hear it from the right and MSM critics like Rebecca McKinnon and Jay Rosen.

It's interesting to hear the words of military action used to describe a democratic conversation.

Target = MSM.

Posted by: Matt Stoller at February 11, 2005 4:37 PM | Permalink

A1 Reading Project was no doubt in error to attribute the coinage "blogstorm" to Hugh Hewitt. It is nevertheless a brilliant coinage. I say stick with it.

"Blogstorm troopers" captures something for which we didn't previously have precise language. Thank you A1 Reading Project for the coinage (even if accidental) and thank you Jay for spreading the word.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at February 11, 2005 5:23 PM | Permalink

"blogstorm" is a useless euphemism.

Why useless? If 'hood slang has 27 different words for money that don't differentiate, that is not constructive. If arctic natives have 27 different words for snow and each is a subtle variation of type that, knowing the difference, could save one's life, that is constructive.

Blogstorm is no different than what was once called a "media firestorm" over Reagan's 1985 Bitburg trip. And that, to be precise, was "social hysteria". Call this what you believe it to be, but make it meaningful and descriptive.

However, I think that this has been something short of social hysteria.

Posted by: sbw at February 11, 2005 5:41 PM | Permalink

I think that what is driving this story is, as Jay says, the fact that Jordan is in a highly influential position with respect to how CNN covers foreign news. His comment in an unguarded moment seems to reflect his real thinking, and his belief that the American military is actively trying to kill journalists is something a lot of viewers deserve to know, particularly when one remembers his revelations that CNN failed to report facts about the Saddam regime that might hurt it's opportunity to have a bureau in Baghdad. The fact that he waffled when challenged doesn't settle the issue. He clearly despises the U. S. military, and I'd like to know why he said nothing about the videotaped assassination of Danny Pearl.

As for Fox liking "polarization and heat," more than CNN, I can't tell much difference between Hannity and Colmes and Crossfire. The fact that Fox has more conservatives than liberals doesn't mean it is more interested in polarization, just that its target market is different.

Posted by: AST [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 11, 2005 6:07 PM | Permalink

Blogstorm is no different than what was once called a "media firestorm" over Reagan's 1985 Bitburg trip. And that, to be precise, was "social hysteria". Call this what you believe it to be, but make it meaningful and descriptive.

there are a number of distinct differences in the nature of what you describe as "social hysteria" surrounding Reagan's visit to the cemetary of Nazi storm troopers, and what is currently happening with Jordan and Gannon.

The most salient one, in terms of this discussion, is that blogstorm troopers are now moving a story forward---people can do more than complain, they can do their own research, have that research seen by a wider audience.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 11, 2005 6:26 PM | Permalink

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."

I'm not sure what Betsy's problem is here. "Jeff Gannon" was clearly a public figure, and (despite what Guckert claims) there is absolutely no evidence that any member of Guckert's family was even contacted, let alone harrassed or threatened in any way, shape, or form by those who were investigating "Jeff Gannon."

Yes, there was the excitement of the chase, but the integrity and honor of those who investigated "Jeff Gannon" cannot be questioned. The fact that Guckert's seamy past was exposed as a result of this investigation is not something that should concern anyone. What should concern people is that there was sufficient evidence of something very wrong with regard to "Jeff Gannon" that the mainstream should have investigated Gannon, but did not do so, and only pursued the story when it involved scandalous sexual issues.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 11, 2005 6:40 PM | Permalink

why did they not push the fact that the lover of Barney Frank ran a male whorehouse from Barney's apartment while Barney was at work?

like most rightloons, you miss the whole point of the "Jeff Gannon" investigation. There was no effort to find out whether or not Gannon was a gay hustler, or to find out embarrassing details about his private life; the investigation was directed primarily at finding out what Gannon's connections were that got him White House press credentials despite using an alias and not working for a real news organization. The fact that Guckert was a gay hustler only makes the real question ("how did this guy get White House press credentials") even more compelling.

The revelation about Guckert does, however, lead in some interesting new directions --- and insofar as the head of the RNC is probably someone who had sufficient pull in the White House to get Guckert his credentials using an alias -- and that same head of the RNC happens to be a closeted gay man....well, that is certainly an angle that should be pursued...

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 11, 2005 6:57 PM | Permalink

Jay, I know you advocated patience earlier this week and as you may recall I was persuaded by you at the time. Do you still think that or are you beginning to think that the reason we are not seeing the tape is because the tape is, at this point, lethal?

Posted by: Van der Leun at February 11, 2005 6:57 PM | Permalink

p.lukasiak: and that same head of the RNC happens to be a closeted gay man

Look it up. -- “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?”

Posted by: sbw at February 11, 2005 7:18 PM | Permalink

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.]

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 11, 2005 7:19 PM | Permalink

Eason Jordan resigns.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 11, 2005 7:19 PM | Permalink

Wow! Got pretty quiet in here all of a sudden. Are we observing a moment of silence or something?

Posted by: B. Tucker at February 11, 2005 10:55 PM | Permalink

Some Blog Storm Troopers these guys turned out to be. First they relied most heavily on 2 of the nation's most prominent and powerful lefty politicos in Sen. Dodd and Rep. Frank to support the factual basis of their claims about what Jordan said.

And then they allowed him to slip away without even attempting to hang some gay porn allegation or other charge that might incite the homophobia (that we all know from the MSM) lurks in the heart of every non-Blue State, non-Democrat American.

Sheesh! What a bunch of pikers.

Give me the Kos-sacks any day for true pitchfork mob mentality.

They just seem to have the whole hate thing down much better.

Posted by: CalDevil at February 12, 2005 2:57 AM | Permalink

Look it up. -- “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?”

I lost my sense of decency when I saw that decency was a fatal liability when dealing with those who support Bushco. Anyone who could support Bush and his cohorts after what they did to Max Clemmons has absolutely no right to talk about "decency".

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 12, 2005 6:59 AM | Permalink

oops, brain freeze...that should have been Max Cleland.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at February 12, 2005 7:00 AM | Permalink

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.

Posted by: richard mcenroe [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 12, 2005 12:10 PM | Permalink

...and now various types on the left are going to try to make Jordan into a martyr who lost his job because of blog-stormtroopers.


Posted by: rosignol at February 12, 2005 1:02 PM | Permalink

Blog swarm / blog storm (troopers). Depends on who side the blogs are on.

The added truth of most blogs is the recognition that one must on a side.

Jordan is on the anti-Bush side, which is an enemy's enemy friend of the insurgents side. So are far too many Leftist reporters -- the only truth they look for are shades to make Bush look bad.

Are anti-Bush reporters on the side of insurgents? THAT, too, is a story. How would one know, what would one see; how close to that is reality?

Do US troops target journalists? If so, I'd expect to see dozens of journalists killed by troops -- weekly. Max 12, all of them possibly "mistaken identity" ... not much story here.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 12, 2005 6:21 PM | Permalink

Yes, you were an enabler in some sense. Among weblogs, links are oxygen. What you say matters less than the fact of a link. On the other hand, if your beat is the interaction between weblogs and journalists, this is a story, and you're not supposed to not cover stories because you don't like their effects.

I think you are utterly naive if you expect the major right-of-center weblogs to ever do more journalism than they intimidate real journalists out of, but I wish I could be that naive again.

Posted by: Katherine at February 13, 2005 12:43 AM | Permalink

How do right wing weblogs intimidate real journalists?

Posted by: cal-boy at February 13, 2005 3:37 PM | Permalink

By demanding that they back up their assertions with evidence, and pointing out their errors and demanding corrections. They are not always polite about this, especially when the offender has repeatedly refused to present evidence or admit error.

That this is considered 'intimidation' is disgusting. It should be the work of editors and in-house fact-checkers, not a third party... but we do not live in a perfect world.

Posted by: rosignol at February 13, 2005 6:47 PM | Permalink

Coming late to the party, and just a side note ... Mark Anderson (above) mentions my "accidental coinage" of blogstorm in my Reading A1 post. Actually, "blogstorm" has been used numerous times previously; it's not Hewitt's own term, and I was mistaken in attributing it to him (a mistake I corrected here, with gratitude for some rare civility coming from the right that led me to the correction).

On the other hand, "blogstorm troopers" is, indeed, my own pun/coinage, and since it seems to be catching on a bit I'm happy to claim it.

As to Jay's rather glancing response to my criticism: Come on, Jay, you're a better reader than that. To call you (and with much reluctance, I'll add) an enabler in that you devote sustained and exclusive attention to a (marginal) topic makes no claim about content, as you imply above: indeed, I specifically mentioned that you were reserving judgement about the Eason Jordan flap. Whether you're pro or anti or agnostic hardly matters. Given the typical length of your posts, and your rather deliberate posting schedule, the (unusual) attention you've devoted to "Easongate" in and of itself communicates that the story is important. In any other context, about another writer, you yourself would be the one making that point.

And this, I'm sorry, is just laughable: "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." I said nothing about "invasions of privacy." I sympathize with anyone suffering such invasions, of course, even J. D. Guckert, whether bloggers or the traditional press are the invading forces: but you entirely deflect the real point. Blogstorms like the Eason Jordan one, where the agenda of the principals is clearly not journalistic investigation but the extension of right-wing political control over the mass media, are a danger to our political life and ultimately to the freedom of the press. I should think that a press critic, at least one who cares about that foundational democratic freedom, might want to take note of such a criticism, which is hardly trivial or motivated by simple, personal "fear and disgust." Instead your comment distorts it out of existence. I'm afraid your own response makes my point about your blindness in this matter much more eloquently than I could have myself.

Posted by: Michael at February 14, 2005 4:14 PM | Permalink

From the Intro