The head of CNN's news division, Eason Jordan, ignited an Internet firestorm last week when he told a panel at a World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, that the American military had targeted journalists during operations in Iraq.
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.
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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?"
Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post (and also the host of CNN's Reliable Sources) wrote an article that used David Gergen's quotes to Michelle Malkin (see yesterday's posts on TKM below) to bolster Jordan's claim that his statements were misperceived. But Barney Frank, a paradigmatic liberal and opponent of the Iraq War, was clear on what Jordan said and what he seemed to mean -- no spinning allowed. The justifications Jordan made to Kurtz are dismembered here.
For more, here are The Captain, Malkin, and Hewitt on Kurtz. Mickey Kaus of Slate.com chews up Kurtz's article and says Kurtz's conflict of interest is apparent. And a French scholar at the (liberal) Brookings Institution reported on Jordan's comments here (see Chapter 9). His entry, translated here, supports Rep. Frank's account, not Jordan's.
As we've noted before, Jordan's comments were not a one-time occurrence. The Captain has noted, in his criticism of Kurtz's article:
What Kurtz missed in all that background was any mention of Jordan's earlier comments in Portugal at the News Xchange forum last November. Kurtz wants to pass this off as a mistake in word choices when Jordan's earlier accusations of US military personnel capturing and torturing journalists shows that his Davos comments weren't simply a lack of rhetorical clarity. Kurtz also missed this earlier accusation of the Israelis targeting journalists from October 2002, again showing that Jordan has a pattern of making these accusations without any substantiation.
In addition, the World Economic Forum (which is the technical title of the Davos confabulation) has refused to release the tape of the panel discussion in which Jordan made his ridiculous claims. The WEF will revisit this decision if the panel participants request that the tape be released to the public. CNN has made no such request.
These accusations are simply slanderous: untrue and calculated to degrade the reputation of the US forces. The congratulations and appreciations Jordan received for speaking the "truth" by Arab anti-US (government-controlled) journalists turns my stomach and says all you need to know about the veracity of his claims. CNN needs to fire Eason Jordan.