Tuesday, February 08, 2005

EasonGate: Media Crisis Meltdown of the Month

Last year, we witnessed CBS imploding under Rathergate. This year, we'll be watching CNN's Eason Jordan deciding to torch what remains of his career by making unsubstantiated claims that US military targeted journalists in Iraq who disagreed with what the military considered what was going on in the war.

Well, it seems that bloggers (well, more than just that site - there's a proliferation of 'em) have been busy on this. Oh, and the New York Sun should be commended since they're giving this story the attention it deserves.
Mr. Jordan, speaking in a panel discussion titled "Will Democracy Survive the Media?" said "he knew of about 12 journalists who had not only been killed by American troops, but had been targeted as a matter of policy," said Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat of Massachusetts who was on the panel with Mr. Jordan.

In an interview with The New York Sun, Mr. Frank said Mr. Jordan discussed in detail the plight of an Al-Jazeera reporter who had been detained by American forces, was made to eat his shoes while incarcerated in the Abu Ghraib prison, and was repeatedly mocked by his interrogators as "Al-Jazeera boy."

A man who said he was a producer with Al-Jazeera at the network's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, said he was unaware of any such incident, "although we have had problems with American troops in and out of Iraq." The Al-Jazeera producer refused to give his name.

Mr. Jordan's comments - prompted by a broader discussion of the dangers of covering the war in Iraq, in which some 63 journalists have been killed - left Mr. Frank, usually an outspoken war opponent, speechless.

"I was agog," he said. "I took a few seconds and asked him to basically clarify the remarks. Did he have proof and if so, why hadn't CNN run with the story?"

A CNN spokeswoman did not return a phone call or e-mail seeking comment. Last week, CNN put out a statement that said Mr. Jordan's remarks had been taken out of context by several Web logs and that he was merely responding to an assertion by Mr. Frank that the dead journalists were "collateral damage."

Mr. Frank denied that he used the phrase. The panel's moderator, Harvard University professor and columnist David Gergen, did not return a call seeking comment, but he told online columnist Michelle Malkin yesterday that the remarks left him "startled."
Michelle Malkin has been on top of this issue, having interviewed Gergen at length, and has more today, including that Jordan has put together a list that essentially restates his position that the US specifically targeted journalists, despite his claim that he never said that the US targeted journalists. Curiouser and curiouser.

Rep. Frank, David Gergen, and Sen. Christopher Dodd all heard Jordan make those statements, and Frank took Jordan to task for making them without any proof. Kudos to Frank for doing the right thing.

The question remains whether Jordan will ever be held accountable for making such statements in public that are lies and smears the military, which has gone out of its way to protect journalists and civilians alike.

No comments: