Thursday, February 03, 2005

Eason Jordan and the Imperative for Evidence

Regarding the Rony Abovitz statement today...

I have to say there are some disturbing elements raised I hadn't fully considered. Rabovitz states:

"In the room with us were powerful men and women, including high ranking politicians, who could follow up in a serious and meaningful way. Where are those voices and where is the followup? This topic should not be buried away in the closet. Is what Eason said the problem, or should we be more frightened at the prospect of journalists being targeted and killed by U.S. soldiers."
And a bit further down...
"Aren't we also all disturbed at the prospect of Eason being correct about the targeting of journalists, including those journalists now in Iraq, or on their way there? If I were going to cover the news in Iraq, I would have no idea what to think or expect at this point."

Here is the aspect I hadn't considered. The statements of Mr. Jordan could very well lead to things like Congressional investigations of the military to discover whether they're true. They could lead to an attempt to discover whether we have another another Abu Ghraib type scandal occurred. They could lead the the destruction by presumption of many a military or political career.

This being the case... WHERE IS EASON JORDAN'S EVIDENCE?!

This goes beyond merely finding out what words he specifically said via a transcript (though that is still very much needed). We need to know whether Jordan based this on some evidence that hasn't been revealed, or if he was merely dealing in rumor and conjecture. But even then - where did the rumor and conjecture come from. What kind of sources have such influence that they could persuade Eason Jordan to pass them along to such an powerful and influential audience? Or is he in the habit of merely fabricating rumors out of whole cloth? We need to know that too.

The lack of transparency here, which Abovitz devotes some commentary to as well, is beginning to look like a big story in itself. How does an international news organization like CNN operate? And what ethical responsibility do they have to make those operations known so viewers may weigh their likely accuracy accordingly?

Gerry, at Daly Thoughts, has some similar comments, and also ties this back to Jordan's previous admission of covering up stories about Saddam's Iraq in the past:

Outrage is also the proper response if it turns out that he was casting aspersions on the conduct of our troops merely to gain approval.

The burden of proof should now be on Jordan. Due to his position, he was speaking from a position of authority or knowledge. He either can substantiate his claims, or he cannot.

If he can, then they should be reported, and he should be held accountable for his news organization not reporting it in a more timely fashion. Especially since his news organization has admittedly stayed mum about atrocities before.

And if he cannot, he should be held accountable for his slander. And since it will take resources to investigate his claims, he should be held accountable for wasting the time of those who will now be doing the digging.

Abovitz feels that because Jordan raised these claims, Congress needs to act and investigate. If the unsubstantiated claims of a single man justify such a response seems very much an open question to me. Let Jordan provide some evidence, [emphasis mine - Doug] and if he can provide any, then by all means such an investigation would be in order.

Either way, Eason Jordan has proven that he is unfit for the position he holds.


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