CQ In The News

I received a few e-mails from CQ readers informing me that NBC Nightly News showed a couple of screen shots of my blog tonight. In a story called “Blog Power,” Jonathan Alter notes that blogs have developed substantial power to change and shape the political and media environment. He pointed to three people who have lost their jobs due to blogs — Trent Lott (showing Eschaton), Dan Rather (showing Power Line), and Eason Jordan, with Captain’s Quarters in the background.
If you’re watching the news on the West Coast, you’ll see this at 6 pm PT. If you’ve missed it like I did, you can watch the segment at The Political Teen, who captured it and now hosts the clip. (In fact, check out his entire blog.) It’s not a bad segment, even if it contains the ubiquitous hands-typing-on-keyboard shot. Since they show my URL as the entry, I won’t gripe about that too much this time. (hat tip: CQ readers Gregory and Beege)

Democracy In Action Clueless About CNN’s Operations?

I just received a hilarious e-mail from Danny Schechter at Democracy in Action, which wants to alert me to the vast conspiracy by Fox News to discredit CNN by attacking Eason Jordan. This mass e-mail has so many holes and fallacies in its arguments that it’s hard to know where to begin — but I’ll just start at the top:

Dear Media for Democracy Member,

Er, no. Not that I mind seeing what they produce, but I’m not a member, nor have I subscribed to any of their services.

CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan quit late last week amid a furor over remarks he allegedly made about American soldiers intentionally killing journalists in Iraq.

Allegedly? Even Jordan admitted making the remarks; he just claimed that people in attendance misinterpreted them. Eight different witnesses verified Rony Arbovitz, including Rep. Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd, hardly members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

Jordan delivered the remarks while sitting on an off-the-record panel of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

It was so off the record, in fact, that the WEF quoted its participants in its own summary posted on the WEF website.

While no actual tape of his comments has yet to be released, an attendee disseminated news of the event into the blogosphere and ignited a firestorm, which included charges that CNN itself — not just Jordan in his personal capacity — had “slimed our troops.”

Not exactly. What we demanded was that the tape be released and that if Jordan had indeed made unsubstantiated allegations of atrocities against the US military, then CNN either needed to produce evidence of such or dismiss Jordan. If CNN failed to act, we argued, that was tantamount to supporting an act of slander, and CNN’s credibility would suffer greatly as a result. Everyone I’ve read on the subject who accused Jordan specifically of “sliming the troops” leveled that accusation only at Jordan himself.

Leading the charge was CNN competitor Fox News Channel and its sister publication, The New York Post.

Hey, I like the Post and Fox, but they hardly led any kind of media “charge”, as a review of the history will show. Fox reported briefly on a Wall Street Journal subscription-only blurb and dropped it for a week. The Post didn’t do a lot more with it until a couple of days before Jordan’s resignation. Hugh Hewitt could have been said to have led the charge, perhaps. The ignorance of Schechter shines through with this silly lie.

Members of Congress piled on with angry demands for evidence although the tone of their remarks suggested a total denial of the possibility that Jordan may know something that they didn’t.

Here’s where we get to the true stupidity of Schechter’s e-mail. First, members of Congress objected from the moment the words flew out of Jordan’s mouth, because he had no evidence for his allegations. Barney Frank asked him for evidence during the forum, and as David Gergen repeats ad nauseam these days, Jordan “walked it back” to mistaken identity after being challenged.
But more directly, Eason Jordan runs one of the world’s largest news agencies, whose business is informing people of what they do not already know. If Eason Jordan had specific evidence of these atrocities, it should have led their news program at prime time in America and around the world. Does Schechter think that CNN is some sort of commercial CIA? In Schechter’s world, do journalists and news execs run around telling people about the stories they have and then spike them just to pique their interest?
Does Schechter have any clue how obtuse that statement reads?

Instead, Jordan’s patriotism and CNN’s integrity was attacked.

Yes. Selling anti-Americanism in order to gain access to foreign markets that salivate for it, and lying about our own troops to do so, does strike some of us as rather unpatriotic. Stoking hatred of American service members merely to bolster one’s bottom line does not reflect well on one’s integrity, and since Jordan represents CNN in these forums, that reflects poorly on CNN’s integrity as well.
Schechter then flags three “urgent issues” for me to consider:

1. Do media executives have a right to express opinions that deviate from the official line? Media companies should defend the rights of their employees to take part in democratic debate without fears of recriminations. The conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and the World Editors Forum have rushed in to defend Jordan’s right to express controversial opinions without intimidation.

Media companies should defend the rights of all people to take part in debate without fear of recrimination. Free speech, however, does not protect libel and slander. Nor does claiming “intimidation” every time someone criticizes one’s speech create a debate; that argues for an echo chamber, where only one side gets to talk. That model has expired, and Schechter doesn’t much like it.
As for the WSJ and the World Editors Forum, if they truly have done what Schechter says, they’ve missed the point. Jordan didn’t just express an opinion, he made specific allegations of criminal conduct, and he did so on more than one occasion. Even if it was just his opinion, we have a right to criticize tha opinion by expressing our own opinions, and when he fails to produce evidence, then Jordan looks like an idiot, a sell-out, and/or a liar. The First Amendment doesn’t protect one from the consequences of their speech.

2. Do media companies have an obligation to investigate and not just denigrate?

Yes! That was our entire point! If Eason Jordan thinks that the American military assassinates and tortures journalists, then he has a responsibility to investigate and produce evidence before issuing denigrating and slanderous accusations. After all, Jordan ran one of the largest media companies in the world.

CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press, AFP and other media outlets should take a fresh look at these charges to determine their validity.

Perhaps they can do that after they report on what Jordan actually said in the first place. None of the agencies named by Schechter have called for the release of the Davos videotape or have reported on Jordan’s similar charges in November 2004 or October 2002.

3. Are we who care about integrity in the media willing to stand up to protect free speech during a time of war? While this issue is often spun as a left-right story, it’s about much more than that. We are all paying dearly for this war. Shouldn’t we Americans have a right to know what’s being done in our name?

That’s two separate issues — free speech and transparency in government. I have to say that someone who sends out as badly researched and antagonistic a message as this, and then has the nerve to imply that free speech is an endangered species, has got a serious screw loose. Anyone who experienced the vitriol and personal attacks on the streets during this past election aimed at our current president and his staff should have recognized that the First Amendment remains alive and well. In fact, I think campaign-finance reform constitutes a much greater threat to political speech than anything Schechter argues in this missive.
In terms of transparency, Schechter wants news agencies to pull soldiers out of units to be available for journalists’ investigations at whim. However, Schechter fails to recognize that journalists accompanied US troops into Baghdad and given their own testimony to the notion that American troops targeted journalists during the battle. Jules Crittendon of the Baltimore Sun was embedded with the unit that fired on the Palestine Hotel, the premier incident which people like Schechter point out as evidence of an assassination strategy, and thoroughly debunks it. Why doesn’t Schechter simply pick up the phone and ask Crittendon?
Schechter can send all the e-mail missives he likes, but his arguments are losers. He gets his facts wrong, he mixes his arguments, and he can’t determine the difference between oppression and opposition. Having people like Schechter on their side may well be the primary reason CNN pushed Eason Jordan out the door.

Brent Bozell Slams The “Lynch-Mob” Meme

L. Brent Bozell writes about the blogswarm surrounding Eason’s Fables in today’s National Ledger, and he slams Eason Jordan for his unprofessionalism and compares CNN to Richard Nixon’s White House. Bozell also castigates the media that ignores the central facts up to the present day, and cites CQ and myself as an authority:

If these charges were true, they would make Abu Ghraib’s naked pyramids pale by comparison. But they were wild and reckless accusations, which explains Jordan’s subsequent, furious backpedaling and denials. Still, it begs the question: Why would a man whose profession and expertise was “newsgathering” make such wild charges without evidence? …
But then Jordan and CNN added to the outrage by refusing any attempts to release a transcript or videotape of the off-the-record panel discussion. What a spectacle: a news outlet always championing the public’s “right to know” and crusading for “full disclosure” clamping down like the stereotypical arrogant multinational corporation they like to expose. Richard Nixon, meet Eason Jordan. Does anyone believe that if President Bush (or Vice President Cheney or Secretary Rumsfeld or fill in the blank) claimed in an off-the-record forum overseas that Ted Kennedy was a murderer, that CNN wouldn’t be in the front of the line demanding that the administration release the videotape?

That may be the most apt analogy I’ve yet heard about Eason’s Fables. If CNN didn’t demand the videotape of such an event, no doubt all other media outlets would, especially if it turned out that Bush or one of his staff regularly made such accusations at political events. Just look at the recent contretemps over the GOP calling Harry Reid an obstructionist. That detailed, 13-page memo with voting records and public statements from the new Senate Minority Leader resulted in a petition signed by all Senate Democrats calling on Bush to publicly disavow the statement — and got coverage from every single national news outlet, as well as plenty of pundit analysis.
Bozell then remarks on how little the media has actually done to inform its viewers and readers about the nature of Jordan’s transgressions by referencing the work published here at CQ, gathered from a number of blogosphere sources:

Controversy was also deepened when bloggers like Ed Morrissey (at his blog “Captain’s Quarters”) reported that this was not a one-time gaffe for Jordan. Morrissey said Jordan had also “accused the U.S. military of torturing journalists (November 2004) and the Israeli military of deliberate assassinations (October 2002) at journalistic forums, all overseas and outside the reach of most American media.”
These accusations are stop-the-presses huge. So why didn’t CNN ever produce some evidence for these charges and put them on the air? And if they weren’t true, why wasn’t this man fired long ago?

CNN never aired them because CNN had no evidence to support the charges. No one doubts for a second that CNN or any of the other media outlets would love to break a story like that. If true, I’d want them to do it. But what Jordan did, on several occasions, was to pass along rumor as fact in order to bolster his anti-American credentials so that he could gain or retain access for CNN in some of the world’s worst dictatorships and kleptocracies, those countries which have a vested interest in selling anti-American rhetoric to their subjects.
Bozell also presents the best analysis so far of the media blackout’s result:

Amazingly, most of the major “news” media avoided this news — especially CNN. So when Jordan resigned, it made the blogs seem so powerful that liberals started attacking them for recklessly destroying Jordan’s career, even using goofy terms like “cyber-McCarthyism” to denounce it. But what the bloggers did here was deliver information and accountability, the same things the major media purport to be providing — unless it’s one of their own in the hot seat.

That reaction will wind up driving readers to the blogs to research this supposed witch hunt, where they will find much more to Eason’s Fables than the pathetic treatment given in the mainstream press. That will be a body blow to the MSM’s credibility and create much more demand for the blogosphere. The media, much more so than in Memogate, has done far more damage to itself than the bloggers could ever have done.

A Closer Look At Bret Stephens

After the revelation that Bret Stephens used the Wall Street Journal’s unsigned-editorial slot to issue an institutional (and anonymous) defense of his own work yesterday — one that raised a firestorm of opposition among OpinionJournal.com readers — CQ reader Dianne sent me some background on Stephens that may explain some of the issues at the WSJ. Joel Leyden wrote a valediction for Stephens for the Israel News Agency on the announcement of his departure from the Jerusalem Post (emphases mine):

I have also heard the adage: “don’t kiss and tell” and my father once told me “don’t ever bad mouth anyone you ever worked with.” And we all know that cops don’t rat on cops and journalists don’t bash journalists. It’s a standing rule for which I am now breaking. As a “disgruntled former employee” I can talk, my colleagues at the Post cannot – due to fear. Fear of being fired and a clause in their Israeli contracts which states that they are not allowed to speak to the media.

Before I address any more of Leyden’s criticism of Stephens, I find that bolded statement rather telling in the wake of Eason’s Fables and the media blackout that followed. It’s the first time I’ve seen that analogy expressed in print by a media source, although the comparison occurred to me more than once over the past two weeks. I heard John Podhoretz talking about this a bit more obliquely last night with Hugh Hewitt, in his analysis that media sources don’t compete much at all, but instead act as more of a large co-op or monopoly. They compete locally; John’s Post and the Daily News have no problem criticizing each other, but they’re going after the same readership in a crowded and narrow marketplace.
NOTE: I am retracting the rest of this post. On further review, I’ve decided that this entry probably treated Stephens unfairly. This mostly had to do with an editorial decision originally reported to have been made by Stephens, which later turned out not to be the case. I apologize to Mr. Stephens for the post.

Geraghty Points Out Portugal On PBS

Thanks to a phone tip I received from a family member, I found out that Jim Geraghty of the National Review’s TKS blog appeared on Jim Lehrer’s NewsHour on PBS. While an official transcript has not been made available, the new Google video service has this from the closed-captioning of NewsHour (emphasis mine):

at 52 minutes
Are there bloggers whose motivation is really to attract attention to themselvess? >> [Jim Geraghty:] Like I said there are a lot of bloggers out there. I wouldn’t doubt that there are some who thought this is a great way to attention to get traffic to my blog. I can’t buy into this argument that this is one slip of the Tongue. At a conference in Portugal last fall he said that several journalists were taken to the Abu ghraib prison complex and tortured there. If he’s got this kind of evidence for these stories he should come out and show it.
at 52 minutes 30 seconds
I’ll admit a lot of people took into this story was his comments about not reporting everything he knew about Saddam Hussein in a run-up before the Iraq war. I Admire him for coming out and saying this. He came into this controversy with a black Mark on his record that a lot of people caused them not to cut him Slack they might have otherwise done. >> Smith: thank you all three very much. Certainly leaves one with the feeling that this whole debate is not over yet.

Kudos to Jim for getting PBS viewers the story that the network seems to want kept quiet.

The WSJ Disappoints (Update: More Conflicts?)

Normally, I read the OpinionJournal every day, although I rarely link to it; I agree with most of what they write and don’t have much to add. Imagine my surprise, then, this morning when they not only clearly demonstrate that they learned nothing from the Eason Jordan debacle, but also attack the bloggers who participated in holding him accountable for his actions. In their unsigned editorial, the WSJ lashes out at CQ and the rest of the blogosphere for driving Jordan out of his job:

By now, everyone on the Good Ship Earth knows that this particular story ended Friday with Mr. Jordan’s abrupt resignation from CNN. This has certain pundits chirping delightedly. It has been a particular satisfaction to the right wing of the so-called “blogosphere,” the community of writers on the Web that has pushed the Eason story relentlessly and sees it as the natural sequel to the Dan Rather fiasco of last year.
As for Mr. Jordan, he initially claimed that U.S. forces in Iraq had targeted and killed 12 journalists. Perhaps he intended to offer no further specifics in order to leave an impression of American malfeasance in the minds of his audience, but there is no way of knowing for sure. What we do know is that when fellow panelist Representative Barney Frank pressed Mr. Jordan to be specific, the CNN executive said he did not believe it was deliberate U.S. government policy to target journalists. Pressed further, Mr. Jordan could only offer that “there are people who believe there are people in the military who have it out” for journalists, and cite two examples of non-lethal abuse of journalists by ordinary GIs.
None of this does Mr. Jordan credit. Yet the worst that can reasonably be said about his performance is that he made an indefensible remark from which he ineptly tried to climb down at first prompting. This may have been dumb but it wasn’t a journalistic felony.

The editors at the WSJ, once again following Bret Stephens’ lead, only tell the part of the story that advances their opinion. Nowhere yet in the OpinionJournal forum has the writers or editors addressed the fact that Davos was not an isolated incident. I find this distressingly odd, since the WSJ obviously knows of the earlier incidents. In fact, they reported on them today, in an article by Jack Flint on page B1 of the WSJ:

Mr. Jordan’s new appointment as chief news executive came only months after he penned an opinion piece for The New York Times in which he said CNN had held back on reporting some of the brutalities of Saddam Hussein to protect the network’s Iraqi staffers. Some commentators accused the network of considering access to Iraqi officials to be more important than accurate coverage.
In his new post, described by some as CNN’s “secretary of state,” Mr. Jordan still traveled the globe but in a more diplomatic role. It was also around then that the exuberant Mr. Jordan, who had been good at putting out fires, began setting them, much to chagrin of CNN brass. Prior to his remarks at the World Economic Forum, Mr. Jordan had made similar comments about journalists killed in Iraq at a conference in Portugal late last year.

Opinionjournal’s editors cannot claim ignorance of the Portugal comments, which demolishes the notion of the entire hubbub resulting from one “indefensible remark”. Why don’t they mention that earlier comment, or even the one made by Jordan in October 2002 about the Israeli military that turned out to be just as false? Perhaps they got too steamed over my assertion that Stephens failed to disclose a connection to Eason Jordan to think rationally:

It is for this reason that we were not inclined to write further about the episode after our first report. For this we have since been accused of conspiring on Mr. Jordan’s behalf. One Web accusation is that Mr. Stephens is–with 2,000 others–a fellow of the World Economic Forum, thereby implying a collusive relationship with Mr. Jordan, who sits on one of the WEF’s boards. If this is a “conflict of interest,” the phrase has ceased to mean anything at all.

I assume that the OJ editors read my objection or that of the Dinocrat, and they have mischaracterized the conflict in any case. Stephens belongs to the Forum of Young Global Leaders, which has exactly 1,111 members and is closely affiliated with the World Economic Forum, which means Stephens has an interest to protect with the WEF that he did not disclose. The YGL forum appears to fall under the purview of none other than Eason Jordan, whose bio describes him as a member of the WEF’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow programme. Whether or not that influenced Stephens’ reporting is only known by Stephens, but that connection should have been disclosed to WSJ/OJ readers, and the OJ’s defense of his silence speaks volumes about their editorial standards. (They also made my mistake of calling Jordan a “board member” of WEF, which I retracted here, so I’m fairly sure that the OJ has my blog in mind.)
The poor response of the OJ to repeated, unsubstantiated allegations of American military atrocities by the chief news executive of a global media outlet was bad enough. This attempt at shifting blame to the people who did the work they should have been doing all along shows that the WSJ/OJ operate under the same blinders as their counterparts in the more mainstream media outlets, and as a result, risk the same irrelevancy.
UPDATE and BUMP, 4:12 PM: Hugh Hewitt reports that Bret Stephens wrote the editorial. Now, look at this section of the passage:

It is for this reason that we were not inclined to write further about the episode after our first report. For this we have since been accused of conspiring on Mr. Jordan’s behalf. One Web accusation is that Mr. Stephens is–with 2,000 others–a fellow of the World Economic Forum, thereby implying a collusive relationship with Mr. Jordan, who sits on one of the WEF’s boards. If this is a “conflict of interest,” the phrase has ceased to mean anything at all.

So now Bret Stephens has fallen to defending his own work and dismissing his own conflict of interest under the imprimatur of an unsigned editorial — and the WSJ wants us to understand that they see no conflict on this? No wonder the OpinionJournal.com response page has yet to be updated.
More from the Dinocrat, which first noted this conflict.

Live-Blogging Reliable Sources

Howard Kurtz has a round-table on Eason’s Fables on right now, and he has David Gergen, Bill Press, and Jeff Jarvis on to discuss the issue. I wasn’t going to comment until it was over, but it’s so ridiculous I have to live-blog it.
10:37 – Bill Press says that if General Mattis made similar remarks, no one would have cared. Is he out of his mind?
10:39 – Jeff Jarvis hotly disputes the notion that the blogosphere is a lynch mob. All we are, he said, are citizen journalists demanding the truth.
10:41 – Now they’re talking about the Gannon/Guckert non-story. I note that Jeff tried to bring up Jordan’s “history”, but he got cut off by Howard Kurtz. I don’t know if Jeff meant the other statements in 2004 and 2002 or his admission of selling out to Saddam in 2003.
10:45 – Kurtz cuts this short so they can fit in another discussion of “Deep Throat”? Now, that’s breaking news!
(Note: Now that the main discussion is over, I will back the TiVo up and try to get exact quotes.)
3 minutes, DG: “He made a mistake, I did not think he deserved to lose his job over it. Look, a little context is important. He’d just come back from Baghdad, 16th trip. We were on the eve of elections there, he was extremely tense, because he thought a CNN journalist as well as other journalists were in grave danger there, and he was — he praised US troops for protecting CNN journalists and others, but he said this was a place where we lost 63 journalists on all sides, and journalists on all sides are being — are getting killed, often carelessly, and he used the word ‘targeting’. He certainly left the impression that US troops were targeting journalists on the other side, al-Jazeera for example, just as insurgents were clearly targeting American journalists…”
Okay, this differs again from what Gergen told Michelle Malkin and Kurtz himself earlier, at least in the details. Now Gergen has Jordan praising the US for protecting CNN’s reporters while only assassinating al-Jazeera reporters. It still amounts to the same charge — that American soldiers deliberately killed civilians in combat knowing they were journalists, regardless of where they worked.
4 minutes, HK: “… Most news organizations didn’t touch it. In fact, as far as I know, this is the first time it’s being discussed CNN, which I think is a mistake, given Jordan’s importance and all the airtime devoted to Dan Rather’s problems –”
JJ: “Amen.”
Exactly what we meant when we complained about the media blackout, although our ire focused more on Kurtz’ role at the Washington Post. No one really expected CNN to cover the controversy, although it would have been nice to see that kind of independence by the network. Our main issue dealt with the same silence from ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and so on.
HK: “How did this reach critical mass?”
JJ: “Witness the news judgment of the people versus the news judgment of the big guys [a tad dramatic, Jeff? 😉]. Really, the bloggers didn’t want his head — most of us didn’t — we wanted the truth. We want to see that transcript from Davos.”
This whole notion of wanting Jordan’s head or not wanting Jordan’s head is ridiculous. Jarvis is correct that we wanted the truth about Davos, but we also already knew the truth about Portugal in November 2004 and the accusations against the Israeli military in October 2002, all made at journalistic conventions overseas, and none of them ever substantiated. We demanded transparency from CNN instead of obfuscation, and we demanded that their executives exercise objective news judgement instead of selling out America and its ally in order to curry favor with CNN’s target markets of the same kleptocracies and tyrannies that support our enemies.
If Jordan had any evidence of these accusations being true, he should have had CNN raising the issues here, so that we could investigate them properly. His lack of effort to do so strongly indicates that Jordan told his fables to boost circulation and not out of any altruistic notions of protecting reporters or serving the truth. If he wanted to serve truth, all he needed to do was to call for the release of the videotape.
10 minutes, DG: “In this case, I have to say, Jeff, while there were bloggers who were simply getting at the truth, I think there was also a quality of vigilante justice building up among some of the bloggers who wanted his head.”
JJ: “There were two issues with those bloggers. One was CNN’s history with covering this war and the military in general, and the second was Jordan’s own history here. And yes, there were some who don’t like him and nothing would make them like him. But I wrote about this on my blog as a media story — because it is. [Kurtz tries interrupting.] And I think the New York Times is embarassed about it because they didn’t write about it beforehand.”
That bolded portion was as close as anyone ever came to discussing Jordan’s history of making similar allegations, with no substantiation, prior to Davos, which I have documented on my blog. Instead of focusing on the supposed vigilantism of the blogosphere, it would have been nice to see these supposedly professional journalists actually review all of the facts of the Eason Jordan case and provide the complete context for the controversy.
In other words, Kurtz has Kurtzed yet again.

Howard Kurtz Continues Kurtzing Eason’s Fables

As the harbinger of the mainstream media treatment of the Eason Jordan scandal, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz continues to wear blinders to the overall context of Jordan’s slanderous accusations. In his review of three blogosphere-related oustings over the past week, Kurtz again reports on Eason’s Fables only in the narrowest sense, ignoring the other similar incidents that infuriated the blogosphere:

In the case of Jordan, a 23-year CNN veteran, it was a single online posting by technology executive Rony Abovitz, after Jordan’s ill-fated comments at an off-the-record forum Jan. 27 in Davos, Switzerland, that led to his downfall. The lesson, say media analysts: In the digital age, anyone can be a journalist.
After Jordan told the forum that the U.S. military had targeted journalists — and then backed away from the charge, though to what degree is very much in dispute — he granted an interview only to The Washington Post, and CNN tried to minimize the matter with a terse statement. Jordan maintained that he was talking about accidental and possibly careless attacks on journalists in Iraq, where three CNN employees have been killed. But he compounded the problem, critics say, by not insisting that the World Economic Forum release a videotape of the session.

That’s not inaccurate, but it’s incomplete. As with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article below, it attempts to spin the problem as a single point of misunderstanding, followed by a mystifying cover-up. The consistent problem with Kurtz’ reporting on this story is that he refuses to report on Jordan’s earlier, similar statements, which provide a much different story about Eason Jordan.
One might excuse Kempner, who has no national reputation and may be rather new to the story — although that hardly excuses shoddy research and reporting. However, media issues are Kurtz’ beat, and he arguably is the most well-known and, until now at least, the most highly-regarded media critic in the US. Kurtz sets the tone, and his first three articles on Eason Jordan has certainly done that. Media outlets appear to have assumed the Kurtzian response of ignoring all but that which has been the most publicly known details.
We’ve seen mainstream media stars like Robert Fisk and Maureen Dowd inadvertently lend their names to disreputable journalism; in the former, just for biased and false reporting, and the latter for mangling quotes to significantly change their context for her own purposes. I propose the use of Kurtz as a verb meaning to provide cover for someone through the deliberately selective reporting of facts, just enough of which to protect the reporter against charges of falsification while accomplishing a purposeful misdirection. In this case, the Post has Kurtzed Eason’s Fables into the appearance of a witch hunt, and look for more of the same at other outlets.

CQ Correction: Jordan Not WEF Board Member

I received two e-mails this morning in response to my characterization of Eason Jordan as a board member of the World Economic Forum, from CQ readers Alan Speakman and Gerry Ashley. Both questioned the post after double-checking my sources and expressing support for my work, so I took that quite seriously — and found out that I had indeed mixed up the bio provided by the World Economic Forum for Eason Jordan.
Here’s what the bio reads:

Personal Profile:
Studies in Journalism, Georgia State Univ. Formerly, Assignment Editor, WXIA-TV, Atlanta; Radio News Correspondent, WGIG and WSBI, Brunswick. 1982, joined CNN: Asst Assignment Editor, national desk and later international assignment desk helping oversee CNN’s coverage of the Falklands War and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; 1989, appointed to direct CNN’s international news coverage; 1995 took on the added responsibility of overseeing the CNNI television network; 1995-1997, Exec. VP, Newsgathering and International Networks; 1997-2000, President, Newsgathering and International Networks; currently, Chief News Executive. Member: Council on Foreign Relations; Emory Univ. Journalism Program Advisory Board; World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow Programme. Recipient of numerous honours, including Emmy, Peabody and CableACE awards.

Jordan is a member of the WEF and its Global Leaders Of Tomorrow Program, and as such, he still represents an undisclosed conflict of interest for Bret Stephens, which is the context of my first reference to Jordan’s status with the WEF. However, at least as far as this bio goes, he doesn’t appear to be a WEF board member, which I have stated twice in this blog. I apologize for the mistake.

The LA Times Finally Covers Eason’s Fables

The readers of the Los Angeles Times finally got informed of Eason’s Fables this morning, only after the two weeks of outrage in the blogosphere and later in the mass-media punditry forced him to resign. I wonder what LA Times readers thought when they read this:

Eason Jordan, CNN’s chief news executive, who led much of the network’s war coverage, resigned late Friday in the wake of contentious comments he recently made about journalists killed by U.S. troops in Iraq.
During a Jan. 27 panel discussion in Davos, Switzerland, Jordan alleged that some reporters and cameramen killed in the combat zones had, in fact, been targeted, according to some observers in the audience. The World Economic Forum, which sponsored the panel discussion, has declined to release the transcript or videotape of the off-the-record session, which was titled “Will Democracy Survive the Media?”
In a statement Jordan sent to his staff Friday, the CNN executive vice president cited “conflicting accounts” over his recent remarks as a threat to the news organization’s credibility. In resigning, Jordan said he sought “to prevent CNN from being further tarnished by the controversy.”
The announcement comes after a week when commentators and newspaper editorial writers joined the chorus of complaints among Internet bloggers that Jordan had made insupportable accusations.

Ned Martel never delves any deeper into the story than that, only covering what we all knew more than ten days ago. Martel never mentions, for instance, that Eason Jordan sits on the World Economic Forum board and could have pressured the WEF to release that videotape. Martel makes Jordan look like a victim of the WEF instead. Martel even notes further that “the furor grew beyond the reported mild gasps at the Davos session into a wider media discussion,” in an attempt to make it sound like Jordan got caught up by mob hysteria.
I’m sure Patterico will be all over this story, and he should. Martel probably signals what the mainstream media spin will be on Eason’s Fables — poorly researched articles that deliver the minimum of details in an attempt to cast Jordan as a victim of blogger bloodlust. They’re hoping that while they mention blogsites like Roger L. Simon and Easongate, their readers will remain too stupid to actually go check them out.
Unfortunately for the LA Times, that kind of thinking has proven disastrous. Jordan’s resignation from CNN shows the Times’ readers that their newspaper hid a huge scandal from them, and they will want to know why. They may wind up disagreeing about the extent of the issue, but they won’t escape the conclusion that the LA Times participated in a conspiracy to cover up for Eason Jordan and CNN until the very last minute. And then they’ll realize that Jordan’s abrupt resignation and the ostensible reason for it — to salvage a reputation on which no media outlet had done any damage — makes no sense unless Jordan knew his whole defense was a sham, and one that was about to collapse.
The LA Times has learned nothing from Eason’s Fables or Memogate. The mainstream media is in the process of a long, slow suicide, and while they may blame the blogs, the they are the true culprits.