Friday, February 11, 2005

Washing Post: Jordan Resigns

Well we won't have Eason Jordan to kick around anymore. At least not at CNN.

The WashingPost's Howard Kurtz -- also the host of a show on CNN, incidentally: filed the following: (registration required)

CNN's Jordan Resigns Over Iraq Remarks
News Chief Apologized For Comment on Troops

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 12, 2005; Page A01

Eason Jordan resigned last night as CNN's chief news executive in an effort to quell a bubbling controversy over his remarks about U.S. soldiers killing journalists in Iraq.

Even as he said he had misspoken at an international conference in suggesting that coalition troops had "targeted" a dozen journalists and insisted he never believed that, Jordan was being pounded hourly by bloggers, liberals as well as conservatives, who provided the rocket fuel for a story that otherwise might have fizzled.

Translation: "And we would have got away with sweeping it under the rug if it weren't for you meddling bloggers!"

Eason Jordan said he was resigning so that CNN wouldn't be "unfairly tarnished."

Unfairly? I'm not sure. I'm thinking his previous silence about 12 years of Saddam Hussein's atrocities in Iraq would have tarnished them pretty darn well as it was.

Jordan, 44, said in a statement yesterday that he was quitting after 23 years at the network "to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq. . . . I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise."

I am skeptical, but I'd have thought that he'd be one to choose his words more carefully. "Targeted" has a pretty specific meaning. I suppose what he means by this is they were killed accidentally... or were mistaken for terrorists.


Jay Rosen, chairman of New York University's journalism department, who has covered the controversy on his PressThink blog, said he didn't think Jordan "had engaged in a firing offense."

Bloggers "made a lot of noise" about the Jordan flap, Rosen said. "But there was basic reporting going on -- finding the people who were there, getting them to make statements, comparing one account to another -- along with accusations and conspiracy thinking and the politics of paranoia and attacks on the MSM, or mainstream media."

That's the nature of this game; the open source aspect brings in all types. I speculated rigth along that Eason was trying to trigger a congressional investigation what with Barney Frank (D-MA) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) in the audience. It is good to have some recognition of the basic reporting. (Michelle Malkin, who got Chris Dodd and Barney Frank on the phone, comes to mind, as does Captain Ed who tracked down Jordan's previous statements regarding the alleged torture of journalists, and La Shawn Barber.)


Blogs operated by National Review Online, radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt and commentator Michelle Malkin were among those that began slamming Jordan last week after a Davos attendee posted an online account, but the establishment press was slow to pick up on the controversy.

It has been postulated that the establishment press doesn't have the first clue about what goes on in the blogosphere. If it isn't in the NYT or the Washing Post they don't know about it. You'd think after the ludicrous documents CBS tried to pawn off as the basis for a story on George W. Bush's TANG days, they'd get a couple folks each monitoring the goings on in the blogosphere. I recommend at least an hourly scan of Glenn Reynolds for starts.

The Washington Post and Boston Globe published stories Tuesday and the Miami Herald ran one Thursday. Also on Thursday, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens, who was at Davos, published an account accusing Jordan of "defamatory innuendo," and the Associated Press moved a story. As of yesterday, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today had not carried a staff-written story, and the CBS, NBC and ABC nightly news programs had not reported the matter. It was discussed on several talk shows on Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC.

Eventually the other cable news channels were bound to dive on their wounded rival. I'm not shocked by the failure of the broadcast networks to mention it, though. I doubt they like to think about cable much.

Gergen said last night that Jordan's resignation was "really sad" since he had quickly backed off his original comments. "This is too high a price to pay for someone who has given so much of himself over 20 years. And he's brought down over a single mistake because people beat up on him in the blogosphere? They went after him because he is a symbol of a network seen as too liberal by some. They saw blood in the water."

He also had a pattern of slandering the military. (Go back to the Captain Ed link above for some examples.) If it helps, think of it as more of a lifetime achievement award.

In his statement, Jordan said: "I have great admiration and respect for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, with whom I have worked closely and been embedded in Baghdad, Tikrit, and Mosul" and other places. "As for my colleagues at CNN, I am enormously proud to have worked with you, risking my life in the trenches with you."

I guess he supports the troops when it suits the audience he's in front of.

Jordan made at least 15 trips to Iraq over the years and was fiercely and emotionally involved in the coverage.

...except where precious access could be at risk.

*snipped the very last paragraph in which Mr. Kurtz finally gets around to telling his readers--at least those who stuck around that far--about CNN's silence over 'some of' Saddam Husseins atrocities.*

Howard Kurtz hosts CNN's weekly media program.

(just to show that it was mentioned) And I'm sure this had nothing to do with Mr. Kurtz's reticence to publish anything on the subject sooner.

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