Rony Arbovitz Confirms Eason’s Fables In Davos

Hugh Hewitt got to Forumblog’s Rony Arbovitz before CNN could and publishes Rony’s confirmation of exactly what Eason Jordan told the Davos forum. In an e-mail exchange, Arbovitz makes clear that Jordan intended on telling the forum participants that the supposed targeting of reporters by the US military was deliberate and with full knowledge of their identity:

HH: Did Mr. Jordan make his “targeted” remark in response to a comment by Congressman Frank?
RA: I believe that Congressman Frank was dragged into all of this after the fact. Mr. Jordan gave us all a monologue that evolved from his personal experiences in Iraq about this idea of U.S. soldiers targeting U.S. and foreign journalists. I first challenged Mr. Jordan, and then moderator David Gergen (of Harvard’s JFK School of Government) brought Frank in as a member of the U.S. government to respond to claims that shocked all of us. I remember Gergen in particular being flabbergasted and disturbed to a very high degree by Mr. Jordan’s statements. Congressman Frank told the audience that his briefings indicated that all the journalists killed to date in Iraq were due to “collateral damage”. Jordan disagreed, and gave us an example of U.S. soldiers deliberately shelling a hotel in Iraq which was known to all as a haven for journalists covering both sides of the war. Congressman Frank was pretty much a bystander being dragged into all of it.
HH: Can you recall the reaction of the audience to the initial Jordan statement concerning “targeting?”
RA: Some members of the audience were shocked and in disbelief. Others supported Mr. Jordan’s statements and seemed visibly impressed that Mr. Jordan had the courage to say such things to a world audience. One thing I will never forget: Arab journalists coming up to Mr. Jordan at the end of the session and praising his sheer bravery for standing up to the U.S. military in such a public way. I will also never forget the absolute look of horror on Professor Gergen’s face, the disbelief that the U.S. military would ever do such things. Gergen went on to describe that in his own experience, the U.S. military were always the “good guys”, rescuing journalists, never deliberately targeting them for death. Gergen also felt obligated to basically halt the debate at some point because the Pentagon and U.S. military were not represented at the session, and therefore no balanced discussion could be had (Congressman Frank is probably not a good proxy for the Pentagon).

Read the entire interview at Hugh’s. CNN and Time Warner need to come clean on Eason’s Fables before we completly classify CNN as a publisher of short-form fiction. When will the rest of the mainstream media finally start reporting on this scandal? Where is Howard Kurtz?

More Of Eason’s Fables Past

Peter Cook once again finds nuggets in Eason Jordan’s past statements about the United States, CNN, and how Jordan has a real problem with misrepresentation. Jordan gave a speech in March 1999 to the Nieman Foundation, ironically titled “No Substitute for First-Rate Journalists.” The speech gives quite a revealing look at Jordan’s ability to prevaricate at ease to his audiences.
For instance, here he speaks about CNN’s coverage of Iraq as an adamantly independent operation, free of influence by either the Iraqi or US government (emphasis mine):

CNN has had tremendous difficulties with the Iraqi government, a government that’s accused me during my own trips to Baghdad of being a CIA station chief for Iraq. I feel lucky to have emerged alive from that. But it’s very difficult working from Baghdad. It was during the war, and it continues to be today.
Our view is, first of all, we will not consciously pull punches. If I ever find anybody doing it, then those people will be history at this network, as well as with our Iraq coverage.

At the same time he told this to this gathering of journalists, Jordan by his own admission had already “pulled punches”. He wrote four years after giving this speech that he had visited the Baghdad bureau 13 times in the preceding twelve years, and was distressed about the stories they could not report because to do so would lose them access to Iraq. In other words, even while delivering this strongly-worded promise to the journalists gathered at the Nieman foundation, he was selling out to Saddam in order to have the opportunity to tell Saddam’s story to the world.
It didn’t start in 1999, as we know from one of my earlier posts. Solomonia has an excerpt from a Washington Times account by Peter Collins, a former CNN correspondent, which shows how actively involved Jordan was in this sham reporting in 1993, along with then-CNN president Tom Johnson:

I took part in meetings between the CNN executives and various officials purported to be close to Saddam. We met with his personal translator; with a foreign affairs adviser; with Information Minister Latif Jassim; and with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
In each of these meetings, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan made their pitch: Saddam Hussein would have an hour’s time on CNN’s worldwide network; there would be no interruptions, no commercials. I was astonished. From both the tone and the content of these conversations, it seemed to me that CNN was virtually groveling for the interview.
The day after one such meeting, I was on the roof of the Ministry of Information, preparing for my first “live shot” on CNN. A producer came up and handed me a sheet of paper with handwritten notes. “Tom Johnson wants you to read this on camera,” he said. I glanced at the paper. It was an item-by-item summary of points made by Information Minister Latif Jassim in an interview that morning with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan.

That occurred six years before Jordan pompously declared his intention to fire anyone who “consciously pulled punches”. This wasn’t pulling punches — CNN took a dive, and begged Saddam to let them do it.
I especially loved this part:

And if there’s any proof that we’re compromising our journalistic standards as part of that process, I would love to know about it, because that’s totally unacceptable.

Does that not sound exactly like Dan Rather’s “I’d love to break that story” denial about using forged documents? It’s as if they worked off the same script.
Every time we find a speech by Jordan at some forum or international event, we easily discover more nuggets of an almost antagonistic, pathological falsehood occurring. It’s almost as if Jordan dared the world to prove him wrong. Unfortunately for Jordan, these challenges never disappear in the age of the Internet, and now his lies and allegations have come home to roost. Time Warner needs to ask itself if a person of Eason Jordan’s dishonesty truly represents the character of their news organization. If he does, then we know how they view their responsibilities to the truth.
Peter had other problems with Jordan’s speech, so be sure to read his entire post.
UPDATE: Bill Roggio calls for a blogosphere boycott on CNN links until they come clean on Eason Jordan.

Eason’s Fables Makes The Washington Times Editorial Page

The Washington Times becomes the first major daily to take Eason Jordan’s paranoid rantings to task since the Wall Street Journal initially reported Congressman Barney Frank’s challenge to the CNN chief. The Times issues a measured reprimand to Jordan for his predilection for making unsubstantiated allegations about atrocities:

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during a discussion on media and democracy, Mr. Jordan apparently told the audience that “he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted,” according to a report on the forum’s Web site ( …
[I]t’s an assertion Mr. Jordan has made before. In November, as reported in the London Guardian, Mr. Jordan said, “The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the U.S. military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by U.S. forces.” This is very serious stuff, if true. Yet aside from Mr. Jordan’s occasional comments, there’s no evidence to support it. Mr. Jordan’s almost immediate backpedaling seems to confirm this. In a statement to blogger Carol Platt Liebau, Mr. Jordan said, “To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. I said so during the forum panel discussion. But, nonetheless, the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity.” He added, “three of my CNN colleagues and many other journalists have been killed on purpose in Iraq.” He didn’t elaborate by whom.
According to information on CPJ’s Web site (, between 2003 and 2004, 12 journalists were killed as a result of U.S. fire. None was from CNN.

Read the whole thing; the editorial takes a fact-checking approach to Jordan. He left himself open to this by tossing around accusations without any shred of proof, and the Times exploits the opening well. However, I think that the fact-checking strategy doesn’t get to the heart of the matter and allows the argument to rest on interpretations of a far-too-lenient interpretation of what Eason Jordan claimed. It’s a lawyer’s trick — changing the context of the statement by focusing on alternate definitions of a single word, in this case target. Forumblog and Rebecca MacKinnon both reported that Jordan clearly wanted to communicate to the Davos crowd that American GIs had a plan to take out journalists — and in fact, he has a pattern of making precisely the same accusation.
The pattern of making unsubstantiated allegations, especially while overseas and out of earshot to almost all of CNN’s domestic audience, is the real issue. Eason Jordan lies about our military in order to impress foreigners who are already inclined to believe the worst about us. What does that say about the foreign news services Eason Jordan delivers to them?
Kudos, however, to the Washington Times editorial board. At least they advanced the story to the mainstream press. That’s something almost every other news outlet refused to do.

Hugh: Media Bias In The Silences

Hugh Hewitt has a new column out for the Weekly Standard on media bias. His thoughts have has special resonance today as we see the major American media outlets put the Cone of Silence over Eason’s Fables, which plays a part in Hugh’s column. Hugh reminds us that bias not only exists in what’s reported, but also in what isn’t:

Even though attention will turn today to the president’s speech to the exclusion of almost everything else, let me underline two recent media events which deserve more scrutiny than they have thus far received.
The first is the genuinely scandalous assertion by CNN’s Eason Jordan, made at the World Economic Forum, that the United States military has targeted and killed a dozen journalists. The account of Jordan’s remarks -including his backpedaling and the crowd’s reactions–is available at ForumBlog. Thus far no major media outlet has demanded an accounting of Jordan, but the idea that a major figure from American media traffics
in such outlandish and outrageous slanders on the American military deserves attention and criticism, not indifference. It is no wonder that anti-American propaganda gains traction in the world when American news executives set fantasies such as this one in motion.

I’m glad Hugh mentions this, because if I inadvertently underplayed one part of my coverage yesterday on Jordan, it was his propensity to make these statements outside of the United States, and especially in fora that appear ready-made to accept anti-American allegations without substantiation. Why, one might ask, would the executive of an American news organization do this? Mainly because CNN does not compete well within the US any longer, and for good reason, as we now know. They are, however, tremendously influential internationally; they are America’s BBC, in more ways than market share. In order to maintain that position, Jordan has to cultivate an image of CNN as a hypercritical gadfly to American policies, especially those of American conservatives.
In other words, Eason Jordan sells out America to boost access for CNN worldwide, and that is a deliberate decision, as his repeated acts show. That should surprise no one who read Jordan’s own admission of the exact same thing in covering Saddam’s Iraq. Jordan told America that he deliberately suppressed stories of Saddam’s atrocities and published stories straight out of Baghdad Bob’s propaganda ministry in order to get pictures on TV from Baghdad.
Now, of course, the blogosphere has awoken to Jordan’s commercial interests in anti-American rhetoric, and CNN has been unmasked as a shill for leftists. CNN and its parent, Time Warner, has to decide whether they will endorse the Eason Jordan strategy and completely break faith with their American audiences — and perform a disservice to their global audiences, too — or dump Jordan and everyone who thinks like him and rebuild credibility back into their organization. It’s also up to use to make sure that they have to make that decision, and that we make clear what actions they’ve taken.
Read all of Hugh’s excellent column. Hugh will appear next Thursday at our Patriot Forum here in Minneapolis on February 10th to debate Peter Beinart. It promises to be a grand event, one of the classic debates you’ll regret missing. I believe tickets are on sale only until tomorrow, and for $69 you can get a ticket and a copy of Hugh’s terrific new book Blog. That’s a deal even Eason Jordan can’t pass up … in fact, Eason Jordan needs that deal more than all of us.

My Rebuttal To Eason Jordan

Dear Mr. Jordan,
While I appreciate your response, I find it singularly inadequate. Just in terms of the one incident in Davos, your characterization of the debate fails to match with the two independent sources we have already seen. The first source, Forumblog, tells us that your forum was videotaped. Where is the transcript? Why don’t you simply produce that, or a videotape on CNN, with the portion of your statement? Surely CNN has the resources to track the tape down. The fact that your own news service fails to make that information available causes me to discount your characterization.
Unfortunately, even had I been inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt about Davos, you have a clear pattern of speaking abroad to audiences inclined towards anti-Western sentiment and making unsubstantiated charges against the US and Israel. You also need to explain your statements in the following venues:
November 2004 – You asserted that US military forces illegally detained 10 or more journalists and subjected them to torture. You said that you based this allegation on reports you’d seen which you believe to be true. Why didn’t CNN publish these reports? Where are they now? Which journalists were tortured, and by whom? It’s been almost four months since you made these charges, Mr. Jordan, and we have seen nothing from CNN.
October 2002 – You claimed that Israeli forces had a policy of targeting journalists, alleging that they had deliberately shot a CNN reporter as a result:

We’re not trying to favour one side over the other we’re not going to pull any punches in our reporting but the truth hurts sometimes and it hurts both sides but it’s a mistake to target the news media. We’ve had enormous frustrations in having access to occupied areas of the West Bank and Israeli forces on a number of occasions have shot at CNN personnel and in fact did shoot one CNN correspondent, he was badly wounded. The Israelis say they’re actually trying to restrict our access to these areas and they say it’s too dangerous for you to be there and my response to that is that it wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous if you didn’t shoot at us when we’re clearly labelled as CNN crews and journalists. And so this must stop, this targeting of the news media both literally and figuratively must come to an end immediately.

The only CNN journalist wounded in that region was Ben Wedeman, who got shot when he wandered into a crossfire. Your own producer, Bruce Conover, told CNN that no one could tell who shot him, as the bullets and mortars were flying in from all directions. Again, you provided no specifics, no names, and no substantiation whatsoever for the notion that the IDF deliberately targets journalists. Again, you made these statements in a foreign country where your remarks were likely to get less scrutiny in the US and approbation from the people who dislike America and Americans. And I note, once again, that CNN never reported on any special program to target journalists in combat zones, despite your allegations. We can only conclude from this that your rhetoric was immature, irresponsible, and completely unsubstantiated — again.
Until you can account for the Davos transcript so that we can all see the context of your remarks and explain your prevarications in the above two egregious examples of slander, then you have no credibility and neither does the news organization which takes its orders from you. Your position as the head of a major news organization and as a journalist requires you to be responsible for your words and actions. You have proven yourself to be inadequate to that task and disrespectful of the truth, and as such, you should resign immediately. As long as you remain in charge of CNN, nothing they report will have any credibility.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers!

Eason Jordan Responds

Carol Platt Liebau has Eason Jordan’s official response, which she got by working through mutual acquaintances. Jordan maintains that he never said that the US deliberately targeted journalists:

“To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. I said so during the forum panel discussion. But, nonetheless, the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity. The reason the word “targeted” came up at all is because I was responding to a comment by Congressman Franks, who said he believed the 63 journalists killed in Iraq were the victims of “collateral damage.” Since three of my CNN colleagues and many other journalists have been killed on purpose in Iraq, I disputed the “collateral damage” statement, saying, unfortunately, many journalists — not all — killed in Iraq were indeed targeted. When someone aims a gun at someone and pulls the trigger and then learns later the person fired at was actually a journalist, an apology is appropriate and is accepted, and I believe those apologies to be genuine. But such a
killing is a tragic case of mistaken identity, not a case of “collateral damage.” That is the distinction I was trying to make even if I did not make it clearly at the time. Further, I have worked closely with the U.S. military for months in an effort to achieve a mutual goal: keeping journalists in Iraq safe and alive.”

I’ll post my response separately, but big thanks to Carol Platt Liebau for getting Eason Jordan to finally comment personally and directly.
Addendum: Does anyone else notice that Carol scooped CNN on this development?

Another Example Of Eason’s Fables

In yet another example of how Eason Jordan tosses around accusations without much supporting evidence — or any at all — the Guardian (UK) covering the News Xchange Forum this past November reports on accusations of the torture of journalists by American forces (hat tip – Peter Cook):

Eason Jordan, chief news executive at CNN, said there had been only a “limited amount of progress”, despite repeated meetings between news organisations and the US authorities.
“Actions speak louder than words. The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the US military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by US forces,” Mr Jordan told an audience of news executives at the News Xchange conference in Portugal.

Once again, we go to CNN’s own archives to find any report that mentions Jordan and the torture of reporters by any military whatsoever … and find nothing. Where are those reports which Eason Jordan believes to be true? Why didn’t CNN cover such a blockbuster story? Jordan appears to have a big mouth and a strong desire to tell people stories — let’s call them Eason’s Fables — that get him attention from all the right people.
If you have had enough of Eason Jordan, don’t tell CNN. Go to Time Warner and let them know.
UPDATE: Bumping this to the top — this is a solid corroboration of Jordan’s inherent bias and antagonism towards the American military.
UPDATE II: Charles at Little Green Footballs notes that Jordan was not the only CNN exec to make accusations of targeting at this conference:

And please note: *this is not limited to Eason Jordan.* At the same News Xchange conference in Portugal, -another- CNN executive, Chris Cramer, told an audience that journalists were being “deliberately targeted for seeking out the truth.”

Good catch — I missed that one.

CNN Just Discovered Captain’s Quarters

Hey, folks, guess what I just received in my e-mail?

Many blogs have taken Mr. Jordan’s remarks out of context. Eason Jordan does not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists. Mr. Jordan simply pointed out the facts: While the majority of journalists killed in Iraq have been slain at the hands of insurgents, the Pentagon has also noted that the U.S. military on occasion has killed people who turned out to be journalists. The Pentagon has apologized for those actions.
Mr. Jordan was responding to an assertion by Cong. Frank that all 63 journalist victims had been the result of “collateral damage.”

I posted this earlier, as TKS had received it after sending CNN a complaint by e-mail. However, I never did send CNN an e-mail — and this message was e-mailed to me specifically, with my address in the To: field.
Do you think someone at CNN might be a tad worried?
UPDATE 6:11 PM CT: Still no evidence of any response at CNN’s website.
UPDATE II: I’ll be on Hugh Hewitt around 6:45 PM CT to discuss the story.

Corroboration For Eason’s Fables In Davos

Rebecca MacKinnon, a TV reporter as well as a blogger, somewhat reluctantly confirms the account given in Forumblog about Eason Jordan’s remarks in Davos last week (hat tip TKS). MacKinnon writes in her blog, RConversations:

I was in the room and Rony’s account is consistent with what I heard. I was also contributing to the Forumblog, but to be honest, Jordan happens to be my former boss who promoted me and defended me in some rather sticky situations after my reporting angered the Chinese government. As CNN’s “senior statesman” over the years, Eason has done some things I agreed with and other things I wondered about. But at least when it came to China, he was no apologist and defended my reports on human rights abuses and political dissent.

Actually, I find Ms. MacKinnon’s loyalties to both the truth and her former boss admirable. It’s obvious that she thought carefully before posting this corroboration of Forumblog’s account.
Now CNN has more explaining to do. After sending out that CYA response, the obvious whitewash attempt instead shows the cable network circling the wagons, a la Rather and the gang at Black Rock last September. Eason Jordan wants to bet the future of CNN on outlasting his critics with smokescreens and arguments about context. Obviously, he didn’t pay much attention to the Memogate fiasco; I wonder if Time Warner will make the same mistake Viacom did.
NOTE: LaShawn Barber is tracking the blog swarm, with lots of links.