Long History Of Hostility Towards Military By CNNi Executive

Chris Cramer, managing editor of CNN’s International news division and a chief lieutenant of Eason Jordan, has made similar allegations about the military targeting journalists as his boss, as outlined here earlier and on Slublog. Alert CQ reader David D remembered Cramer from a famous hostage-rescue case in London in 1980, and pointed the way to other inflammatory comments Cramer made towards the men who rescued the hostages.
On April 11, 1980, six armed Iranians opposed to the rule of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini invaded the Iranian embassy in London, taking everyone inside hostage for a six-day siege. Two of the hostages were BBC reporter Chris Cramer and his partner and soundman, Sim Harris:

The hostages were mainly Iranian embassy staff, but also included a number of tourists and two BBC employees – journalist Chris Cramer and sound recordist Sim Harris – who had stopped by to pick up visas.
Later that day Mr Cramer telexed a shopping list of demands to the police from inside the embassy. … If their demands were not met the gunmen threatened to execute all the hostages and blow up the embassy.

The British activated the Special Air Service (SAS), their commando unit that had been under the budget knife to that point, in an attempt to free the hostages. For the first five days, the SAS planned but remained on standby while British negotiators tried to get the terrorists to surrender. Unfortunately, on the sixth day, the terrorists lost patience and killed an Iranian hostage, an embassy staffer and supporter of Khomeini. After the terrorists pushed the body out a window, the Brits sent in the SAS, which took the embassy back in 15 minutes, killing all but one of the terrorists and saving all but two of the 21 hostages.
Operation Nimrod, as it was designated, became widely hailed as one of the SAS’ most successful operations. The SAS earned a reputation as one of the world’s best counter-terrorist units and the British still point to Nimrod with pride to this day. Well, most of the British do. Cramer, who got released after the first day by faking a heart attack (on his own admission) and leaving behind his partner, doesn’t think too much of the men who eventually rescued Sim Harris and the other 18 hostages. Here’s what Cramer told a seminar of media editors for the Crimes of War Project in 2002 (emphases and break points mine):

I won’t roll out the victim syndrome for you at all — well, maybe I will for two or three minutes. My own humbling experience was 20 years ago last week. Not, of course, as I remember it. It was actually last Wednesday at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Not, of course, that I remember it because it has no affect on me. Tomorrow I fly to London for a reunion, the first in 20 years. And I’ll come back to you and let you know how that feels next year, if you like.
My experience was very brief. I was stupid enough to apply for a visa inside the Iranian Embassy in London in April 1980. I was stupid enough to be there when Iraqi terrorists stormed it. I was there for a very, very short time. I was there for precisely 28 hours. Not that I remember it, because I’m a member of your profession. We don’t do PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].
I was fortunate enough to have a slightly troubling stomach condition, having been in Zimbabwe, which manifested itself in a very short space of time. It’s a most incredible heart attack. And I do fantastic heart attacks. I do great heart attacks. So convincing with my heart attack that the people there were embarrassed and threw me out.
And I was released after 27 hours into the hands of the Metropolitan Police in London and two days later into a dreadful bunch of terrorists called the SAS, who were probably worse than the terrorists inside the Iranian embassy.
And four and a half days later, Maggie Thatcher, in one of her rare moments of triumph, deployed the SAS in broad daylight to storm the embassy and they rescued all but maybe one or two of the hostages. Two were murdered. The SAS conveniently took out five members of the terrorist group and forgot to take out the sixth. So that was my brief, humbling experience.

So Chris Cramer, president of CNN International and a former hostage of terrorists himself, appears to have gotten a lifetime case of Stockholm Syndrome from the experience. He considers British commandos to be terrorists — actually, worse than terrorists, because they freed people from the clutches of murderous thugs. Had Cramer not faked a heart attack, of course, he would have owed his life to the SAS, but apparently his sympathies lie with the gunmen who caused him all of his PTSD.
Now the man who considers these British commandos to be worse than terrorists says much the same thing about the American military — and CNN put him in charge of its international news coverage, including everything we and the world see coming from such places as Iraq and Afghanistan. No wonder Eason Jordan hired him to run CNNi. With his twisted sense of judgment and his sympathetic ear for conspiracy theories, he seems a perfect fit for the CNN chief who likes to make up wild accusations overseas about the American and Israeli military.
These are the people who have given us the news for the past several years on CNN. Now you understand the origins of the bias that you see in their “version” of the news. CNN has a lot of housecleaning to do, and firing Jordan won’t be enough to restore their credibility. Chris Cramer has to go.
UPDATE AND BUMP, 2/9: Cramer describes the terrorists as Iraqi in this quote. The research I found on Operation Nimrod suggests that he was correct, but officially the British maintain that the six terrorists were disaffected Iranians who opposed Ayatollah Khomeini. The scuttlebutt was that Saddam attempted to extend his war against Iran to London, although I’m not terribly clear on the motive. The British maintained diplomatic relations with Iran after the Islamic Revolution and our own hostage crisis in Teheran; perhaps Saddam wanted to shake that relationship.

Note To Jordan And Cramer: This Is What Targeting Journalists Looks Like

CNN executives Eason Jordan and Chris Cramer have repeatedly stated in overseas venues that the US and Israeli military have a policy of targeting journalists for death or torture. Today’s news provides the two with a real example of assassination:

Gunmen killed an Iraqi journalist working for a U.S.-funded television station and his son as they left their home Wednesday in the southern city of Basra, an Iraqi official said.
Abdul Hussein al-Basri, correspondent of Al-Hurra, and his son were both killed in the Maqal area of Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, said Nazim al Moussawi, a spokesman for the local government administration.
Launched in February 2004 Al-Hurra, or The Free, was tailored for Arab audiences to compete with other regional stations like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. Some Muslim clerics have denounced the TV station as propaganda.

You might expect Jordan and Cramer to jump all over this story, especially given both executives’ connections to reporter-safety forums. However, even after three hours, the best that CNN can do is to take the AP’s report and republish it on their site — and they don’t even give it unique coverage. They stack the report onto a much longer and almost completely unrelated article on the debate over “insurgency” strength levels in Iraq.
So much for Jordan’s emotional concern over the well-being of reporters in Iraq. The only lesson that can be drawn from this coverage is that only reporters who work for organizations (or executives) that express hostility towards the West get any concern from Jordan, Cramer, and Co.

Eason’s Fables — As Told By Chris Cramer

CQ reader Ex-Democrat notes another incident of Chris Cramer echoing the allegations of his boss, Eason Jordan, in overseas settings. In a September 2004 interview with Businessworld India, Cramer spoke about the dangers that journalists face while covering conflict (emphases mine):

But the profession is in trouble. Around the world, there is scepticism about journalists. Some even want them killed. This year more than 60 journalists have died in Iraq and we are just into August.

Hilariously, Cramer in the very next excerpt describes exactly why CNN and the mainstream media is in so much trouble, while remaining clueless to the irony:

There is no alchemy involved in accessing news. People can find it themselves. So what you offer them is your version. Plus, the Hutton Enquiry and some incidents in the US show bad journalism. So trust is down.

Talk about foreshadowing; this comment came from Cramer in August but published in September, five days after the airing of the Killian memo segment on 60 Minutes Wednesday that would rock CBS News for months afterward.
Cramer’s comments show a continuation of the pattern set by Eason Jordan, of continually talking about journalists being targeted, with never any attempt at substantiation. That, apparently, is Cramer’s, Jordan’s, and CNN’s “version” of the news. And Cramer wonders at “some incidents” of bad journalism and the lack of trust?

Eason’s Fables Not An Isolated Incident For CNN

Slublog’s Peter Cook, who has done some remarkable sleuthing on the Eason’s Fables scandal, finds out that Eason Jordan isn’t the only CNN executive that spreads rumors about deliberate targeting of journalists for death by US military forces. Chris Cramer, who Jordan hired away from the BBC as CNN International’s managing director, gave this speech in November 2003 to the International News Safety Institute (INSI) meeting in Budapest. Towards the end of the speech, he recommends a particular book for the journalists, Dying to Tell the Story by Nik Grower:

I want to commend to you the very sad, very traumatic and very important book which INSI has backed from the start.
It’s a first of its kind.
A detailed tribute to each and every one of our colleagues who died or went missing.
Important contributions from the freelance community.
From the security industry.
From Nik Gowing on the worrying trend of journalists who died at the hands of the coalition – in the crossfire – through screw ups – however you want to portray it.

“However you want to portray it”? It doesn’t sound to me like Cramer has much of a handle on the facts, nor does he expect his colleagues to actually find and report them. Instead, he sounds more like someone who wants to push a particular spin without substantiation, just as his boss Eason Jordan did a year later.
And what of Gowing? What exactly is Gowing’s contribution to the issue that Cramer so heartily and emotionally recommends to INSI? Peter found this article in Gulf News that explains Gowing’s assertions in fairly bold language:

Official stonewalling and a reluctance to investigate a growing number of unexplained incidents compounds the suspicions. It suggests one of three ominous trends, or some combination:
Either by default or failure actively to investigate and discipline military personnel, a culture of eliminating the presence of journalists – if necessary using deadly force – is being actively tolerated, perhaps even encouraged.
Commanders at the highest level, backed by their political masters, do not stop their forces targeting journalists when operational security appears to be threatened. By default or more, they may even encourage it, creating a culture of both assumed impunity and immunity from legal recourse.
The presence outside military control of cameras in particular – with their capacity for live or near-instantaneous transmission from the heart of a combat zone – is considered a military threat. If necessary it will be eliminated by force and without the threat of legal action under the Geneva Conventions, the International Criminal Court, or Laws of Armed Conflict.

Needless to say, Gowing’s entire article attempts to buttress these claims by equating causality with conjunction. In other words, since the journalists died in a combat zone, they must have been targeted as journalists, and therefore a policy of deliberate assassination exists. Gowing uses as a supporting argument the Bush administration’s supposed rejection of the Geneva Convention in fighting the war on terror, an inaccurate statement in and of itself, as the Bush administration endorsed the Geneva Conventions for warfare in Iraq — because we fought a uniformed army to which the Conventions applied. Gowing offers nothing but a series of long-debunked incidents that doesn’t provide any proof of anything, except that war correspondents take enormous risks and sometimes get killed doing their jobs.
Does CNN stand by Gowing’s reporting and Cramer’s endorsement of it? If CNN endorses Gowing, then they have yet to report on the massive conspiracies Gowing postulates. If not, why did Cramer urge all INSI members to read Gowing’s work?
In Eason’s Fables, the fish may stink from the head, but it spreads down into the body a ways, too.

No Video Will Be Forthcoming

Mark Adams at the World Economic Forum in Davos has now decided not to release the videotape of the conference in which Eason Jordan accused the US military of assassinating and torturing journalists. Adams claims that no one contacted him to urge him to keep the tape private. I find it interesting — and highly telling — that no one from CNN contacted him to ask for its release.
Do you think CNN could have gotten the tape released? I sure do. Why do think they want it kept private?

New York Sun On Eason’s Fables: More Than Kurtz Can Do

Roderick Boyd writes on Eason’s Fables in today’s New York Sun and manages to scoop Howard Kurtz after working on the story only a few hours. In his report, Boyd discusses all three documented instances of Jordan’s accuations agains the US and Israeli military forces and the corroboration of several witnesses at Davos of his latest outrages:

The head of CNN’s news division, Eason Jordan, ignited an Internet firestorm last week when he told a panel at a World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, that the American military had targeted journalists during operations in Iraq.
Mr. Jordan, speaking in a panel discussion titled “Will Democracy Survive the Media?” said “he knew of about 12 journalists who had not only been killed by American troops, but had been targeted as a matter of policy,” said Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat of Massachusetts who was on the panel with Mr. Jordan.
In an interview with The New York Sun, Mr. Frank said Mr. Jordan discussed in detail the plight of an Al-Jazeera reporter who had been detained by American forces, was made to eat his shoes while incarcerated in the Abu Ghraib prison, and was repeatedly mocked by his interrogators as “Al-Jazeera boy.”
A man who said he was a producer with Al-Jazeera at the network’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar, said he was unaware of any such incident, “although we have had problems with American troops in and out of Iraq.” The Al-Jazeera producer refused to give his name.

That last part is news to me; I hadn’t yet heard that. Jordan argued at Davos that the US also tortured journalists in their custody? I know he claimed that at Portugal, but not at Davos. Ironically, not even al-Jazeera backs up Eason’s Fables on that score, as Boyd notes. Howard Kurtz seems to have missed this in his conversation with Barney Frank, although it sure looks like Frank wanted to talk about it.
Boyd also discusses the other incidents that we’ve noted here at CQ:

This is not the first time that Mr. Jordan has spoken critically of the American military’s conduct toward journalists. In November, he reportedly told a gathering of global news executives in Portugal called News Xchange that he believed journalists had been arrested and tortured by American forces.
And in October 2002, at a News Xchange conference, he accused the Israeli military of deliberately targeting CNN personnel “on numerous occasions.”
Mr. Jordan’s remarks might have shocked the American attendees, but they certainly played well among some in the audience. The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, who covered the panel for his paper, told the Sun that after the panel concluded, Mr. Jordan was surrounded by European and Middle Eastern attendees who warmly congratulated him for his alleged “bravery and candor” in discussing the matter.

His “bravery and candor” go only so far, of course, and that limit appears to be the Atlantic Ocean. Jordan has refused to comment on his remarks while back in the United States, understanding that calling the US military a bunch of torturers and murderers without any proof doesn’t get the backslaps it gets among the cognoscenti of Europe and the Arab world. Barney Frank still hasn’t heard from Jordan, despite Jordan’s promise to answer Frank’s questions:

Within minutes of making the comments, Mr. Frank said, CNN’s Mr. Jordan began to immediately “pull back” on the assertion that 12 journalists had been killed by American forces. He instead focused on the deaths of two reporters killed when a missile fired from an American jet struck the 15th floor of Baghdad’s Palestine hotel, where many reporters and film crews stay when in Baghdad.
Mr. Frank said he tried to get information out of Mr. Jordan so that he could forward it to the appropriate congressional investigative authorities. “I think Congress has demonstrated with Abu Ghraib that we will aggressively pursue reasonable allegations,” he said. Mr. Frank said he has tried repeatedly over the past few days to get Mr. Jordan to provide evidence of crimes against journalists. He said Mr. Jordan promised to get back to him, “but I haven’t heard anything yet,” Mr. Frank said.

Note the phrase “within minutes” in describing Jordan’s retreat. That sounds quite different than the earlier assertion that Jordan misspoke in the heat of rhetoric and immediately withdrew his most heated accusations. Frank says that Jordan didn’t “walk” anything back until he got challenged by the Congressman, which given the political leanings of Frank, probably shocked Eason Jordan — but then, courage and integrity always shocks those who lack both.
I spoke with Roderick Boyd yesterday afternoon, probably at Hugh Hewitt’s suggestion, whom Boyd quotes for the article. Boyd got this story yesterday on top of another assignment due at roughly the same time (on the financial performance of two NY media stocks). Yet he managed to investigate the entire story, get new information out of Barney Frank, talk to at least two of the bloggers involved in keeping this story alive, and publish a news article instead of a facile shrug meant to bury the story. Compare this to Howard Kurtz’s effort, after having the story and an interview with David Gergen for over a week. Kurtz should be embarassed with his wan performance.
Frank noted that he offered Eason Jordan the Congressional hearings I suggested yesterday if Jordan had any substantiation for his allegations. I heartily endorse that idea, as I did before, and I think Rep. Frank needs to press for them as quickly as possible — and I think he needs to subpoena Jordan to get the CNN chief over his trans-Atlantic shyness.
UPDATE: The Boston Globe also covers this story today, but does little more than rehash Howard Kurtz’s Post piece.

Kurtz Sticks To Davos, Ignores Other Eason’s Fables

The Washington Post article on Eason Jordan by Howard Kurtz is now available. In tomorrow’s edition, Kurtz focuses narrowly on Jordan’s comments in Davos, allowing him to couch the incident as a perception issue instead of the consistent theme in Eason Jordan’s overseas remarks:

What CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan said, or didn’t say, in Davos, Switzerland, last month has become a burgeoning controversy among bloggers and media critics.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who attended the World Economic Forum panel at which Jordan spoke, recalled yesterday that Jordan said he knew of 12 journalists who were killed by coalition forces in Iraq. At first, said Frank, “it sounded like he was saying it was official military policy to take out journalists.” But Jordan later “modified” his remarks to say some U.S. soldiers did this “maybe knowing they were killing journalists, out of anger. . . . He did say he was talking about cases of deliberate killing,” Frank said.
Jordan denied that last night, saying he had been responding to Frank’s comment that the 63 journalists who have been killed in Iraq were “collateral damage” in the war. “I was trying to make a distinction between ‘collateral damage’ and people who got killed in other ways,” Jordan said last night. “I have never once in my life thought anyone from the U.S. military tried to kill a journalist. Never meant to suggest that. Obviously I wasn’t as clear as I should have been on that panel.”
In some of the cases, “with the benefit of hindsight, had more care been taken, maybe this could have been avoided,” Jordan said, referring to shootings that involved mistaken identity. But, he said, “it’s a war zone. Terrible things happen.”

Kurtz goes on to use David Gergen to support Jordan rather than Barney Frank, as Gergen did with Michelle Malkin earlier today. Kurtz also references Richard Sambrook’s comments at Jay Rosen’s Pressthink blog earlier today, which do support Jordan’s account. Interestingly, Howard also notes my own commentary on this story today, quoting my call for Congressional hearings and referencing the blog and myself by name.
What Kurtz missed in all that background was any mention of Jordan’s earlier comments in Portugal at the News Xchange forum last November. Kurtz wants to pass this off as a mistake in word choices when Jordan’s earlier accusations of US military personnel capturing and torturing journalists shows that his Davos comments weren’t simply a lack of rhetorical clarity. Kurtz also missed this earlier accusation of the Israelis targeting journalists from October 2002, again showing that Jordan has a pattern of making these accusations without any substantiation.
It took Kurtz over a week to finally get around to publishing this article on Eason’s Fables. In that time, it appears that Kurtz did as little investigation as possible on Jordan. My readers and I found all of Jordan’s earlier commentary within 24 hours, and we only have very limited access to Nexis and full-time jobs doing other things than media analysis. Worse than that, all of this information has been repeatedly presented on my blog — in fact, it was all presented on my blog today, and we know Howard Kurtz read my blog sometime this afternoon. Why didn’t Kurtz ask about his remarks in Portugal from three months ago, or about his identical accusations against Israel two years ago? Why didn’t Kurtz press Jordan on the entire story? Only Kurtz can answer that, and I doubt he will have much more to say to anyone about Eason’s Fables from this point onward.
Kurtz took the most superficial look at Eason’s Fables possible, allowing both Kurtz and Jordan to reclaim some credibility while effectively closing the door on the story. We all know that Kurtz does better work than this. It’s enough to make his readers — myself an enthusiastic one up to now — wonder if Mickey Kaus didn’t get it right earlier today.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin is too kind to me, and scolds Kurtz appropriately. Hugh Hewitt gives Kurtz a C- for this effort, which I think might be too kind to Kurtz. I don’t consider this anywhere near an average effort.

Eason’s Fables To Break Into Mainstream Media

I have it on good authority that New York Sun reporter Roderick Boyd will publish a story on Eason’s Fables in tomorrow’s edition. Keep your eye on the morning edition.
Mickey Kaus also reports that Howard Kurtz’s long-awaited piece on Eason’s Fables will run tomorrow. Kurtz is none too pleased with Mickey’s needling about CNN keeping Kurtz’s gonads in a safe at an undisclosed Atlanta location — but after that pathetic performance in today’s Media Backtalk chat, Kurtz has it coming in spades.
UPDATE: Rodger Morrow notes that another witness has come forward to back up Rony Arbovitz’s account of Eason’s Fables at Davos. The original was in French, but Mick Stockinger translated it to English:

It must be said that Eason Jordan, one of the star journalists of CNN, didn’t mince words in declaring that the intentions of journalist in Iraq were never perceived as neutral and were made deliberate targets by “both sides”.
Called on to clarify his statement, he said that outside of deaths attributed to rebels, 12 journalists, including Americans, were killed by the American army, not by deliberate attack, but in the context of a hostile climate towards the press, where the tone was set by Donald Rumsfeld himself. Many journalists feel that among young American soldiers, many would like to “do” a journalist in the course of combat.
Without going that far, Richard Sambrook, a BBC star raised the stakes. Another journalist in the room also recalled the Palestine hotel incident which supported the statements made in Davos, and recognizes the scale of the phenomenon, well-known within the journalistic community, but not beyond.
David Gergen, the moderator, was taken aback, but could not manage to change the subject.

Michelle Malkin notes that this sounds consistent with what Gergen said — and it’s also clear that Richard Sambrook was no mere bystander in this exchange.

Open Letter To My Congressional Representatives

This is the message I am sending to both Minnesota senators and my Congressional representative in response to Eason’s Fables, urging public hearings into Eason Jordan’s allegations. I encourage you to send something similar or even identical to your representatives as well.
CNN executive Eason Jordan has on two occasions in the past four months accused the US military of targeting journalists for torture and murder. In a November 2004 News Xchange forum in Portugal, Mr. Jordan said the following (quoted by the British newspaper The Guardian):
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.
Two weeks ago, in Davos, Mr. Jordan then asserted that the US military targets journalists for death in Iraq. This has been confirmed by Rep. Barney Frank, who attended the same conference at which Mr. Jordan spoke. Sen. Chris Dodd also attended but so far has refused to comment.
A growing number of Americans are expressing concern and outrage over these comments. After all, if true, the US military has a critical leadership failure and must be investigated. If untrue, the Eason Jordan has lied about our military while conducting overseas business and damaged our reputation significantly, considering his position at CNN. In either case, Congress must act to determine the validity of the charges.
I urge you to conduct public hearings into this matter to establish once and for all whether the US military has a policy of assassinating and torturing journalists, in Iraq or anywhere else, and correct the terrible damage Mr. Jordan may have inflicted on our image abroad. Only Congressional hearings will do this.
Thank you,
Edward Morrissey

Will Kurtz Talk About Eason’s Fables?

Howard Kurtz is in the middle of conducting his hour-long Media Backtalk live chat session. I and a number of CQ readers submitted questions on Eason’s Fables. Will Kurtz break the silence? So far (11:23 CT), he hasn’t.
UPDATE: 11:34 — Still nothing. He’s talking about the use of anonymous sources instead.
UPDATE II: Kurtz apparently refused to answer our questions. He’s not the independent voice I thought he was.
However, I have it on good authority that a major-city broadsheet is working on an Eason’s Fables story. I’ll let you know more later.
UPDATE III: Will Collier tells it like it is:

Anybody here believe that Kurtz didn’t receive a single question about Easongate today? I sure don’t–I sent half a dozen of them myself.
You’re a coward, Howard. Your silence, your outright stonewalling in failing to even mention a developing story about one of your bosses isn’t just deafening, it’s damning.
We’ll all remember this the next time you run a story about conflicts of interest in “journalism.” We’ll all remember you covering for your boss. Shame on you. You wouldn’t take this from another reporter–and certainly not from any politician–in the same position.
Shame on you.

I know I re-sent my question at about the 11:35 CT mark. You can see where it got us.