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February 2, 2005
CNN Reporter Targeted By Israelis? Hardly!

In October 2002, Eason Jordan claimed that the Israeli Defensive Forces had shot a CNN reporter as part of a deliberate strategy of targeting journalists covering the war in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (see post below). I did a little searching on Nexis again, confident that had CNN reporters taken fire in the line of duty, CNN would report it. I conducted a search for 'CNN reporter shot' (non-exclusive), and I got only five hits, all of which reported the same incident, which occurred on October 31, 2000.

According to CNN's own coverage of the incident and their own eyewitness to the event, Eason Jordan lied about it during the October 2002 conference:

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Violence in the Middle East has been increasing over the past few days. The death toll is rising.

At least, 151 people have been killed in the clashes, and today the CNN family was directly hit. Correspondent Ben Wedeman was shot just hours ago as he was covering the clashes between Palestinians and Israelis.

Ben is being treated at a hospital in Gaza City. His producer, Bruce Conover, joins us by phone now from Shifa (ph) Hospital.

Bruce, thanks for joining us.

BRUCE CONOVER, CNN PRODUCER: Hi, Daryn. Well, Ben's fine. He's conscious. He's making jokes. So we're feeling a lot better about his condition right now.

KAGAN: So he's going to be OK.

CONOVER: He's going to be OK, yes.

KAGAN: Can you tell us what happened?

CONOVER: He -- we had Ben and a cameraman, Dave Albritten (ph), coming in as a new team. They've been here a few times before. But obviously, you need to bring people up to speed on the locations, where these clashes have been taking place.

So we decided to go to a place that is called the Karni Junction. It's basically a commercial trade center across the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, where literally trucks with Israeli license plates unload into trucks with Palestinian plates so that there are no vehicles crossing the border.

That location was -- became a point of fairly nasty clashes two days ago when there were heavy machine guns in use. The Israeli army said that they were fired upon from Palestinian positions. During the period that we were there, we did not hear any return fire until the very last moment.

But today, it turned violent very quickly. We got there, and literally, a huge firefight broke out. We were -- there were four of us there. We were literally pinned to the ground a minute and a half after getting out of the car. And we were pinned down -- Ben and cameraman Mohammed (ph) were a little bit ahead. They were in a grove of olive trees, and we saw an Israeli tank shelling and moving the shells -- walking the shells toward the olive grove. It became very clear that it was critical that they get out of there. Mohammed yelled to Ben to get out. They were in the process of trying to move when Ben was hit by something. We're still not sure exactly what.

But he was hit. He went down. Mohammed got out of there. Ben was lying on the ground. And in sort of an ironic testimonial to high technology, we, completely pinned down, used our cell phones to call Ben to find out whether he was hit, and in fact, he said, yes, I'm hit, at which point there were several ambulances that were -- had been called by bystanders to the area.

But it was a very nasty firefight, with shelling, probably an exchange of gunfire. It's hard to tell from which side, but there was definitely a lot of stuff coming across. And to make a long story a little bit shorter, it came out of nowhere.

This location, we've been there the day before, absolutely calm, or I should say relatively calm, the normal clashes: Israeli forces using rubber bullets, Palestinians throwing rocks. That's sort of encompassing the norm.

So what happened? CNN's reporter went to an area where clashes were known to occur; a reasonable action for a reporter to take. Usually the clashes didn't amount to anything particularly intense. On this occasion, however, a full-scale battle with real bullets erupted, and Wedeman got caught in the crossfire. No one knows who shot him -- after all, CNN didn't follow up the report according to Nexis -- and his bullet was just as likely to have come from a Palestinian gun as an IDF gun. More to the point, no one "targeted" Wedeman for assassination. Someone may have mistaken him as a combatant, but it's much more likely that he simply got stuck in the wrong place in a battlefield.

With reporting like this coming from the chief of CNN, how can we trust anything his underlings tell us?

UPDATE: Glenn corrected my English in the intro -- and I used to be a technical writer/editor whose job it was to catch that stuff. Dang -- writing on a lunch break will do that to a guy! But if I get to hear from Glenn, it's worth it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 2, 2005 12:29 PM

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