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February 7, 2005
Kurtz Sticks To Davos, Ignores Other Eason's Fables

The Washington Post article on Eason Jordan by Howard Kurtz is now available. In tomorrow's edition, Kurtz focuses narrowly on Jordan's comments in Davos, allowing him to couch the incident as a perception issue instead of the consistent theme in Eason Jordan's overseas remarks:

What CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan said, or didn't say, in Davos, Switzerland, last month has become a burgeoning controversy among bloggers and media critics.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who attended the World Economic Forum panel at which Jordan spoke, recalled yesterday that Jordan said he knew of 12 journalists who were killed by coalition forces in Iraq. At first, said Frank, "it sounded like he was saying it was official military policy to take out journalists." But Jordan later "modified" his remarks to say some U.S. soldiers did this "maybe knowing they were killing journalists, out of anger. . . . He did say he was talking about cases of deliberate killing," Frank said.

Jordan denied that last night, saying he had been responding to Frank's comment that the 63 journalists who have been killed in Iraq were "collateral damage" in the war. "I was trying to make a distinction between 'collateral damage' and people who got killed in other ways," Jordan said last night. "I have never once in my life thought anyone from the U.S. military tried to kill a journalist. Never meant to suggest that. Obviously I wasn't as clear as I should have been on that panel."

In some of the cases, "with the benefit of hindsight, had more care been taken, maybe this could have been avoided," Jordan said, referring to shootings that involved mistaken identity. But, he said, "it's a war zone. Terrible things happen."

Kurtz goes on to use David Gergen to support Jordan rather than Barney Frank, as Gergen did with Michelle Malkin earlier today. Kurtz also references Richard Sambrook's comments at Jay Rosen's Pressthink blog earlier today, which do support Jordan's account. Interestingly, Howard also notes my own commentary on this story today, quoting my call for Congressional hearings and referencing the blog and myself by name.

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.

It took Kurtz over a week to finally get around to publishing this article on Eason's Fables. In that time, it appears that Kurtz did as little investigation as possible on Jordan. My readers and I found all of Jordan's earlier commentary within 24 hours, and we only have very limited access to Nexis and full-time jobs doing other things than media analysis. Worse than that, all of this information has been repeatedly presented on my blog -- in fact, it was all presented on my blog today, and we know Howard Kurtz read my blog sometime this afternoon. Why didn't Kurtz ask about his remarks in Portugal from three months ago, or about his identical accusations against Israel two years ago? Why didn't Kurtz press Jordan on the entire story? Only Kurtz can answer that, and I doubt he will have much more to say to anyone about Eason's Fables from this point onward.

Kurtz took the most superficial look at Eason's Fables possible, allowing both Kurtz and Jordan to reclaim some credibility while effectively closing the door on the story. We all know that Kurtz does better work than this. It's enough to make his readers -- myself an enthusiastic one up to now -- wonder if Mickey Kaus didn't get it right earlier today.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin is too kind to me, and scolds Kurtz appropriately. Hugh Hewitt gives Kurtz a C- for this effort, which I think might be too kind to Kurtz. I don't consider this anywhere near an average effort.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 7, 2005 11:08 PM

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