Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Eason Jordan Responds

Captain's Quarters is reporting that Eason Jordan sent an "official response" to blogger Carol Platt Liebau this evening through a mutual friend.

The response reads:

"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.

When someone aims a
gun at someone and pulls the trigger and then learns later the person
fired at was actually a journalist, an apology is appropriate and is
accepted, and I believe those apologies to be genuine. But such a
killing is a tragic case of mistaken identity, not a case of "collateral
damage." That is the distinction I was trying to make even if I did not
make it clearly at the time.

Further, I have worked closely with the
U.S. military for months in an effort to achieve a mutual goal: keeping
journalists in Iraq safe and alive."
The curious thing about the response is that all of the above could very well be true. But none of it dismisses the possibility that earlier reports alleging that Mr. Jordan stated that U. S. troops were killing journalists intentionally are also true.

Even the initial report from Forumblog agreed that Mr. Jordan did a lot of qualifying and backtracking about these allegations - and his version of events squares with that. Here is how Rony Abovitz described it:

To be fair (and balanced), Eason did backpedal and make a number of statements claiming that he really did not know if what he said was true, and that he did not himself believe it. But when pressed by others, he seemed to waver back and forth between what might have been his beliefs and the realization that he had created a kind of public mess. His statements, his reaction, and the reaction of all in attendance left me perplexed and confused. Many in the crowd, especially those from Arab nations, applauded what he said and called him a "very brave man" for speaking up against the U.S. in a public way amongst a crowd ready to hear anti-US sentiments.

But those other reports also allege that he made some very specific statements that his response simply does not address. After allegedly making the initial charge about journalists being intentionally targetted by the U. S. military, Abovitz said this transpired:

Due to the nature of the forum, I was able to directly challenge Eason, asking if he had any objective and clear evidence to backup these claims, because if what he said was true, it would make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park. David Gergen was also clearly disturbed and shocked by the allegation that the U.S. would target journalists, foreign or U.S. He had always seen the U.S. military as the providers of safety and rescue for all reporters.
Does that sound like all Jordan was talking about was the difference between collateral and mistaken-identity casualties among journalists? Was David Gergen too dense to understand this distinction?

A transcript and/or release of the video that was supposedly made of this incident would immediately clear this up. Yet still no word on even an attempt to do that by CNN or anyone else. Until that is done, Eason Jordan and CNN will remain under a dark cloud of distrust.

UPDATE: Captain Ed responds back to Jordan, and he's on fire. After some very specific citations of previous parallel incidents, Ed provides a J'Accuse moment:

Until you can account for the Davos transcript so that we can all see the context of your remarks and explain your prevarications in the above two egregious examples of slander, then you have no credibility and neither does the news organization which takes its orders from you. Your position as the head of a major news organization and as a journalist requires you to be responsible for your words and actions. You have proven yourself to be inadequate to that task and disrespectful of the truth, and as such, you should resign immediately. As long as you remain in charge of CNN, nothing they report will have any credibility.


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