Q: Who is Eason Jordan?
According to his CNN biography:
Eason Jordan is executive vice president and chief news executive of CNN. He chairs the CNN Editorial Board, is a member of the CNN Executive Committee and provides strategic advice to CNN's senior management team.Q: What did Eason Jordan say?
Rony Abovitz of Forumblog talks about what Eason Jordan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos:
During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others.Q: How can we be sure he said that?
Eason seemed to backpedal quickly, but his initial statements were backed by other members of the audience (one in particular who represented a worldwide journalist group). The ensuing debate was (for lack of better words) a real “sh–storm". What intensified the problem was the fact that the session was a public forum being taped on camera, in front of an international crowd. The other looming shadow on what was going on was the presence of a U.S. Congressman and a U.S. Senator in the middle of some very serious accusations about the U.S. military.
Since the video has not yet been released, and there is no transcript, members of the blogosphere were going on eye-witness statements. However, Eason Jordan has admitted he made similar comments to the ones that the eye-witnesses (namely Rony Abovitz, Rebecca Mackinnon, Justin Vaisse, David Gergen, Bernard Rappez, and Rep. Barney Frank) heard. Originally, the blogosphere went with Abovitz's statement and attempted to find further evidence, something Jordan should have done.
Q: What was Jordan's response afterwards?
Carol Platt Libeau had Eason Jordan's statement first, and here's an excerpt of what really is a wishy-washy response:
To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. I said so during the forum panel discussion. But, nonetheless, the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity. The reason the word "targeted" came up at all is because I was responding to a comment by Congressman Franks, who said he believed the 63 journalists killed in Iraq were the victims of "collateral damage." Since three of my CNN colleagues and many other journalists have been killed on purpose in Iraq, I disputed the "collateral damage" statement, saying, unfortunately, many journalists -- not all -- killed in Iraq were indeed targeted.Q: How has Jordan's story changed over time?
January 28: Jordan first makes the claim, but backpedals on it the same day.
February 2: He clarifies his statement by saying that the US military doesn't target journalists, but journalists have been targeted.
February 8: Speaking to Howard Kurtz, Jordan said "I have never once in my life thought anyone from the U.S. military tried to kill a journalist. Never meant to suggest that. Obviously I wasn't as clear as I should have been on that panel." However, he did list the 12 journalists that he believed were deliberately targeted as evidence for his statement.
Q: Is this the first time Jordan/CNN journalists have made statements like these?
Unfortunately not. CNN International's managing director Chris Cramer hinted at it in September 2004:
Around the world, there is scepticism about journalists. Some even want them killed. This year more than 60 journalists have died in Iraq and we are just into August.He was also very loose with terms in November 2003:
From Nik Gowing on the worrying trend of journalists who died at the hands of the coalition - in the crossfire - through screw ups - however you want to portray it.Gowing's exact comments were that "Commanders at the highest level, backed by their political masters, do not stop their forces targeting journalists when operational security appears to be threatened. By default or more, they may even encourage it..." Eason Jordan himself has made previous accusations of similar types:
In November, he reportedly told a gathering of global news executives in Portugal called News Xchange that he believed journalists had been arrested and tortured by American forces.Let's also not forget that Eason Jordan has admitted pro-Saddam coverage by not reporting news that would portray him negatively (full article re-printed here). This, incidentally, was a claim that Jordan originally denied, despite blatantly biased coverage.
And in October 2002, at a News Xchange conference, he accused the Israeli military of deliberately targeting CNN personnel "on numerous occasions."
Also, journalist Peter Collins stopped working at CNN because of the horridly biased coverage they churned out from Iraq. The money quote? "The president of CNN was telling me I seemed less-than-enthusiastic reading Saddam Hussein's propaganda." (There's more on the general topic here and here, which looks like nothing pre-Davos, but becomes quite interesting in the wake of Davos.)
Q: Can you prove 12 journalists were deliberately targeted?
Not anywhere close to being beyond reasonable doubt, no. Jordan told Howard Kurtz the 12 incidents, however Kurtz only names two, but Jordan claims he's never believed it. Zed's Blog has attempted to name the 12, but that argument was comprehensively destroyed. A Captain's Quarters reader found that only one journalist out of those killed in Iraq was in suspicious circumstances.
Q: What has the mainstream media coverage been like?
Abysmal. The Washington Post wrote a story that has been called "superficial" and eviscerated as a pro-Jordan spin-job by Mickey Kaus - but this is to be expected since Howard Kurtz has professional ties to CNN. The Boston Globe wrote an almost identical piece, and The Toledo Blade also chipped in. Other than that, it's only been the noticably conservative outlets: World Net Daily, Washington Times (more here), The Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Illinois Leader, Opinion Journal and The New York Sun. FOX News's Brit Hume will cover the story on his Special Report program. Jay Rosen rightfully wonders why they're not investigating the story vigorously.
Q: What has the blogosphere coverage been like?
On the Right, a few bloggers have been leading the charge: La Shawn Barber, Bill Roggio, Ed Morrissey, Glenn Reynolds, Michelle Malkin and Power Line especially. Hugh Hewitt also has done his bit trying to push the story into the mainstream media. Over on the Left, there's been pretty much nothing, but I guess that's to be expected since their priorities lie elsewhere.
Q: What timelines of events are circulating?
TKS has a half-timeline here, and the Eason Jordan repositories that La Shawn Barber has churned out have been great.
Q: What is likely to happen to Eason Jordan?
In the wake of his protecting of Saddam because of the fear of losing a few live video streams, nothing happened. Eason Jordan has been able to get away with not reporting the news properly in the past, so unfortunately I see no reason why a failure to be able to support ludicrous claims against the US military will result in any repercussions for Jordan.
(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels.)