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February 10, 2005
WSJ Several Days Late And A Few Bricks Short

Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal writes an odd little entry in the Eason's Fables sweepstakes that finally seems to have gathered some media interest. Stephens witnessed Jordan's commentary at Davos and confirms what Rony Arbovitz, Rebecca MacKinnon, and Justin Vaisse reported about Jordan's slanders. However, Stephens doesn't bother to name any of them and treats the entire issue as a tempest in a teapot:

By chance, I was in the audience of the World Economic Forum's panel discussion where Mr. Jordan spoke. What happened was this: Mr. Jordan observed that of the 60-odd journalists killed in Iraq, 12 had been targeted and killed by coalition forces. He then offered a story of an unnamed Al-Jazeera journalist who had been "tortured for weeks" at Abu Ghraib, made to eat his shoes, and called "Al-Jazeera boy" by his American captors.

Here Rep. Barney Frank, also a member of the panel, interjected: Had American troops actually targeted journalists? And had CNN done a story about it? Well no, Mr. Jordan replied, CNN hadn't done a story on this, specifically. And no, he didn't believe the Bush administration had a policy of targeting journalists. Besides, he said, "the [American] generals and colonels have their heart in the right place."

By this point, one could almost see the wheels of Mr. Jordan's mind spinning, slowly: "How am I going to get out of this one?" But Mr. Frank and others kept demanding specifics. Mr. Jordan replied that "there are people who believe there are people in the military" who have it out for journalists. He also recounted a story of a reporter who'd been sent to the back of the line at a checkpoint outside of Baghdad's Green Zone, apparently because the soldier had been unhappy with the reporter's dispatches.

And that was it--the discussion moved on.

That was it? Stephens makes no mention whatsover of moderator David Gergen's reaction, nor that of Senator Chris Dodd. Moreover, he then chalks the whole issue up as "defamatory innuendo," and claims that this is the main vehicle of media bias and not unsubstantiated allegations. Stephens seems almost as eager as Howard Kurtz to sweep the entire affair under the rug and to get back to business as usual. He even takes swipes at a couple of people to start his piece, notably Easongate and Michelle Malkin:

There is an Web site, on which more than 1,000 petitioners demand that Mr. Jordan release a transcript of his remarks--made recently in Davos--by Feb. 15 or, in the manner of Saddam Hussein, face serious consequences. Sean Hannity and the usual Internet suspects have all weighed in. So has Michelle Malkin, who sits suspended somewhere between meltdown and release.

Perhaps Stephens is nonplussed by Malkin and Easongate because they have actually shown some journalistic enterprise, while Stephens sat on this story for two weeks. Stephens witnessed the chief operations executive of CNN get up and accuse the US military of deliberately killing journalists and conducting torture on an al-Jazeera reporter -- and Stephens waited two weeks to write about it? Two liberal US politicians dressed down Eason Jordan in front of a global forum for making unsubstantiated allegations about our military, and Stephens never considered this news until now?

This column beggars belief. In the two weeks since Davos, Stephens has done no research into Eason Jordan and his track record of making wild allegations in the past, unlike Malkin, Easongate, and myself. He makes no mention of Jordan's right-hand man for CNN International, Chris Cramer, who has made similar allegations. Stephens Googled for "Easongate", found the resources, and instead of actually reading the material and the links back to solid sources on these issues, writes a facile and completely insulting piece that only advances the story to the extent that it confirms what everyone already knows about Davos.

And Stephens is a member of the WSJ editorial board. That makes me feel confident in their ability to react to news. Doesn't the Wall Street Journal pay its editors to keep up with trends and breaking news, not just in financial institutions and the marketplace, but in all areas of the news? It's reporters and editors like Bret Stephens that cause bloggers and columnists like Michelle Malkin to create public demand for accountability, because these journalists routinely abdicate their responsibility to keep us informed. Stephens wants us to simply accept that and move on, a disappointing message indeed from the Wall Street Journal, of all places.

UPDATE and BUMP: Bret Stephens actually first noted the Davos commentary and Rep. Frank's reaction to it in WSJ's subscription-only Political Diary; CQ apologizes for the misstatement that this was the WSJ's first foray into Eason's Fables. However, putting in a short blurb in a subscription-only e-mail listserv two weeks ago doesn't excuse Stephens from researching the topic now, especially since the people he disparages in this post have done excellent work in developing the story and unveiling Jordan's pattern of slanderous accusations against the US military.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 10, 2005 7:34 AM

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