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.