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February 10, 2005
Eason Jordan's Flimsy Journalistic Ethics

Dread Pundit Bluto notes today that Eason Jordan's utter silence on the withheld videotape from the Davos forum not only strongly suggests that he has lied about his statements at the WEF forum, but that his journalistic ethics demonstrate a remarkable elasticity. In 2002, CNN aired excerpts of an Osama bin Laden interview conducted by al-Jazeera, which caused the Arabian broadcaster to threaten their partnership with CNN. Eason Jordan took the opportunity to school AJ on the niceties of journalistic practice:

"It's a shame that it came to that," CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan said, "but once the tape came into our hands, it would have been journalistically irresponsible to ignore it." ...

"I think Al-Jazeera has some tough questions to answer" as to why it never made the tape public, Jordan said.

What a difference proximity makes! Now we have Eason Jordan on videotape, pontificating about journalist safety and accusing the US military of murder and torture, and yet Jordan seems rather unconcerned about the ethos of full disclosure in this case. CNN so far has declined to demand publication of the Davos tape, hiding behind WEF's characterization of the forum rules that they insist require all parties to agree to its release. Yet Jordan and CNN released relevant parts of the Osama tape without ever getting AJ's specific authorization to do so.

The irony continues, as an anonymous reporter with al-Jazeera explained why they didn't want to air the tape (emphasis mine):

A journalist with Al-Jazeera told Reuters that the tape was shelved because the satellite station did not want to appear to be too close to bin Laden.

"We decided under the circumstances at that time that airing the interview would have strengthened the belief that we are a mouthpiece for bin Laden. We decided against airing it," the journalist said.

"The interview was not that newsworthy. It was full of preaching and looked like a (Muslim) Friday sermon," added the journalist, who asked to remain anonymous.

Doesn't that sound exactly like what Jordan did in Davos -- deliver a sermon to the presumed faithful of the anti-American religion? Only when Rep. Frank stood up to challenge Jordan did he realize that he finally pushed his luck once too often. Now Jordan wants us to believe that he has been misunderstood, and that people like Frank, Senator Chris Dodd, Rony Arbovitz, Justin Vaisse, Rebecca MacKinnon, and even Bret Stephens are too dense to comprehend his meaning -- but he wants the videotape that would prove his assertion to remain private.

The final irony is that instead of teaching al-Jazeera a lesson in journalistic practice in 2002, the Arabs taught Jordan how to dissemble instead. As long as CNN remains silent on the videotape, we assume that Jordan's elastic ethics are also CNN's policy, and we judge their credibility accordingly.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 10, 2005 7:43 AM

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