Jordan has resigned. I shed no tears for Jordan, who failed to defend himself against an army of rumor-mongering hacks. The right-wing blogosphere leads the league in intemperate statements. That Jordan has been felled by an unverified intemperate statement -- which he both denied making and apologized for (also part of the problem) -- speaks volumes about the growing power of the hackocracy and its abuses.
|Eason Jordan: Targeted journalist|
|My view from the left||Mainstream Media says||Views from the right|
Muddying the waters
What did Eason Jordan say and when did he say it? Did he accuse the United States military of targeting journalists? If so, what did he mean by targeting? While it's clear that journalists have been detained by U.S. military forces, were any journalists tortured while detained?
This is a developing story with no transcript of what CNN executive Eason Jordan actually said. In April, 2004, Jordan said: "But I do have to take issue with John's point in the beginning. He believes that journalists are not targeted. I do believe that journalists are targeted. There are very specific examples of that. And then beyond what's actually happened on the ground, you have Osama bin Laden in his most recent statement saying that he intends to target big media institutions because he views them as evil propagandists for the U.S. government. And so we take all these threats -- and there are real examples we can cite very specifically -- we take them very specifically and we do consider ourselves targeted." That's Jordan, recently and on the record, not accusing the United States of targeting journalists.
The bloggers who attended the event have several reports worth reading. In particular, they share emails from Jordan: "Here's what's important. First, I stressed insurgents are to blame for the vast majority of the 63 journalist deaths in Iraq. Second, when Congressman Franks said the 63 journalists killed in Iraq were the unfortunate victims of "collateral damage," I felt compelled to dispute that by pointing out journalists in Iraq are being targeted -- I did not say all journalists killed were targeted, but that some were shot at on purpose and were not collateral damage victims. In response to a question about whether I believed the U.S. military meant to kill journalists in Iraq, I said, no, I did not believe the U.S. military was trying to kill journalists in Iraq."
Predictably, the right wing blogs prefer conclusions first, facts later. CQ and Little Green Footballs take another CNN employee's statements out of context to make it sound like he is saying Americans are targeting journalists in Iraq. In fact, he's talking about 1,200 journalists being killed over the last 10 years, mostly in their home countries -- not about Iraq.
Powerline does the same thing, taking a quote about Afghanistan and Pakistan and placing it in a context so that it appears that Jordan is speaking about Iraq. Jordan said, "We've seen eight journalists killed in Afghanistan and then obviously the Danny Pearl situation was so tragic...in both places journalists are not only being killed but they're being targeted." Iraq isn't even mentioned in the interview.
We're a long way, so far, from having a CNN executive claim that the U.S. military is specifically killing and torturing journalists because they are journalists. On the right, however, they never let bad facts interfere with a good story.
From BBC, November 26, 2004Journalists' safety is top priority
In war zones and conflict areas across four continents, the number of journalists and media assistants killed has shot up in recent years.
...More than 100 journalists and support staff have died around the world this year, almost 20 more than in 2003. The conflict in Iraq alone has claimed some 60 lives since March 2003.
Chris Cramer of the US network CNN is honorary president of the International News Safety Institute (Insi). He told hundreds of TV executives and journalists at News Xchange: "The death toll is three times higher than that of international humanitarian workers... This has been arguably the most terrible year for our profession - after I sat here and told you last year it had been the most terrible year."
Media vs military
By some counts, more than 1,200 journalists and media workers have been killed in the past 10 years, more than two thirds dying in their own countries. "Most were deliberately targeted for seeking out the truth. And in more than 94% of those cases, no one has been brought to trial," Chris Cramer recalled.
From Guardian (UK), November 19, 2004:
US military 'still failing to protect journalists in Iraq
Independent journalists operating in Iraq face arrest and even torture at the hands of the US military and the authorities are failing to act on promises to do more to protect them, news organisations have warned.
Eason Jordan, chief news executive at CNN, said there had been only a "limited amount of progress", despite repeated meetings between news organisations and the US authorities. "Actions speak louder than words. The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the US military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by US forces," Mr Jordan told an audience of news executives at the News Xchange conference in Portugal.
Mr Jordan highlighted the case of al-Arabiya journalist Abdel Kader al-Saadi, who was arrested in Falluja last week by US forces and remains in their custody even though no reason has yet been given for his detention. "These actions and the fact that no one has been reprimanded would indicate that no one is taking responsibility. We hear good words but not the actions to back them up," he added.
David Schlesinger, global managing editor for Reuters, said there was no indication the US government's own recommendations on journalists' safety had been understood or carried out by American military commanders in Iraq, or that there had been any progress.
Three Reuters cameramen - Taras Protsyuk, Dhia Najem and Mazen Dana - have been killed while working in Iraq.
"We have had three deaths and they were all non-embedded, non-coalition nationals and they were all at the hands of the US military, and the reaction of the US authorities in each case was that they were somehow justified," Mr Schlesinger said. "What is the US's position on non-embeds? Are non-embedded journalists fair game?" he added.
Bryan Whitman, assistant US secretary of defence for public affairs, insisted US commanders were "very enlightened with respect to the freedom of the press" and said the death of Mazen Dana, who was shot last August when a soldier mistook his camera for a weapon, had been thoroughly investigated.
...Reporters Sans Frontieres has written to Lt Gen John F Sattler, First Expeditionary Corps Marine Commander in Falluja, calling for the release of Mr al-Saadi. "The American authorities must at least justify the reasons for his prolonged detention," the letter said.
Al-Arabiya said this week US forces had confirmed they were holding Mr al-Saadi and told the station he would be released "as quickly as possible". ..."We are impatiently waiting for the American forces to release him, all the more so since we have already suffered heavy losses in Iraq. Eight of our employees have died since March 2003, three of them journalists killed by the American army."
Powerline: The Latest on Eason Jordan
In the meantime, I find it significant that Jordan acknowledges using the word "targeted," apparently--although this is not entirely clear--in the context of American soldiers killing journalists. If what Jordan meant to say was that American soldiers had sometimes intentionally shot at people believing them to be terrorists, but they turned out to be journalists, "targeted" is an odd word to use. And it certainly is not the way Jordan has used the term in the past. Check out this 2002 interview in which the same topic was under discussion. Jordan said:
"We're working two very, very big stories right now that have a couple of things in common. One is they're enormously costly, but more importantly or more worrying is that they're both exceptionally dangerous, because we've seen something in both places that I thank God happens very rarely, and that is that in both places journalists are not only being killed but they're being targeted. There are combatants in both of these conflicts who are trying to kill journalists, and that is unusual and a very nightmarish situation."
On that occasion, at least, Jordan used the word "targeted" as one would expect, to mean the deliberate killing of journalists.
The mainstream media has spent another news cycle ignoring the Eason Jordan scandal, where he has been discovered to have made repeated claims of atrocities deliberately committed by US troops against reporters.
UPDATE II: Charles at Little Green Footballs notes that Jordan was not the only CNN exec to make accusations of targeting at this conference:
And please note: *this is not limited to Eason Jordan.* At the same News Xchange conference in Portugal, -another- CNN executive, Chris Cramer, told an audience that journalists were being "deliberately targeted for seeking out the truth."
Good catch -- I missed that one.
Little Green Footballs:
At the same News Xchange conference in Portugal, another CNN executive, Chris Cramer, told an audience that journalists were being "deliberately targeted for seeking out the truth."