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February 12, 2005
Big Three Network Coverage Of Eason Jordan's Resignation (Cue Crickets)

More than fourteen hours after the resignation of CNN's chief news executive Eason Jordan for his unsubstantiated allegations of deliberate murder and torture against journalists by the US military, I decided to check if the Big Three broadcast networks had finally decided to cover the story. The result disappoints but does not surprise me at all.

At MS-NBC, the only reporting of Jordan's resignation is provided by the same Associated Press report first published thirteen hours ago. MS-NBC does give the link a prominent spot on its home page, however, while at ABC a reader has to do a search to find another, later AP report by David Bauder. Both reports omit any mention of Jordan's earlier comments in Portugal in 2004, or the comments made about Israel in 2002, or even Jordan's own admission that he had sold out to Saddam, an admission made in 2003 only after Saddam had been removed by the US military he slandered.

The ABC/AP report does contain one nugget of interesting trivia that appears new:

After several management restructurings at CNN, Jordan actually had no current operational responsibility over network programming. But he was CNN's chief fix-it man overseas, arranging coverage in dangerous or hard-to-reach parts of the world.

Does that sound like a chief news executive's duties? It sounds more like an attempt at CNN to defend its credibility by applying a Les Moonves-like spin to Jordan's contributions. Oh, he didn't really run the news organization, no no no; he just worked on special projects, so you see, he couldn't possibly have biased our news coverage. I wonder if they can pull that off with Jordan, let alone Chris Cramer. Maybe no one is in charge of news organizations at all; people like Andrew Heyward, Dan Rather, Jordan, and Cramer just sit around their offices and the news holistically appears on your television screens.

At least those two networks acknowledged that Jordan resigned. CBS, strangely, has maintained its blackout of the story. The only hit on CBS News' website for Eason Jordan goes to feedback on an earlier, unrelated column about media bias. At CBS, they tell you what you need to know, rather than just report the news. Remember when we called for Heyward's resignation after Memogate and the Thornburgh-Boccardi report? This is the reason why, and CBS still hasn't got a clue.

UPDATE: Dinocrat takes a different slant on Bauder's cryptic revelation in the later AP piece, one that does indeed raise questions about why Jordan left CNN so quickly:

Captain Ed thinks that this sentence by Brauder is meant to communicate that Jordan, despite his title of chief news executive, was not really in charge of anything, but Brauder may have inadvertently committed journalism in his eulogy of Jordan. Prior to this dust-up about American soldiers torturing and killing journalists, Eason Jordan was best known for his role in slanting CNNs coverage of Iraq to please Saddam Hussein and ensure the networks access to that country. Jordan revealed his revolting work in his confession in the New York Times two days after the toppling of Saddams statue in Baghdad in 2003. Bauders description of Jordans duties as a fix-it man in dangerous locales overseas could well mean that Jordan was negotiating news-slanting agreements among CNN and dictatorships worldwide. Now that would be an interesting story.

Did CNN toss Jordan to the wolves to keep even more information from coming out about his efforts to appease dictatorships and kleptocracies? It's interesting speculation, and Bauder's reporting on his job description with CNN and Jordan's history seems to point in that direction. Perhaps CNN insiders will start talking soon.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 12, 2005 8:25 AM

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