Easing Out Eason

Update: Did this late Friday and got carried away: I realize that I should claim no certainty that Jordan’s comments were lies. We don’t know that they are because we know neither what he said nor the situations to which he was referring. I assume, I’ll admit, that unsupported comments accusing our troops of murder–targetted and by policy–are not true. This position is not, I gather, much different from Barney Frank’s. The left surely is still populated mainly by people like him, sane people who do not see such slanders as a partisan platform or an appropriate speculation before a friendly audience

Back to Friday night:
Incognito describes bravery and altruism, sympathy for others and generosity of self. It is at such men that Eason Jordan’s series of stories have been directed. And their courage diminishes the petty and bloodless skirmishes on the home front.

Drudge and the blogs report Eason Jordan resigned (a competent newsman, he recognized Friday evening as the best time to put out such stories). But could a CNN news reader have given the following if it were about a Fox employee without a sneer?

“I have decided to resign in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq,” Jordan said.

“I have devoted my professional life to helping make CNN the most trusted and respected news outlet in the world, and I would never do anything to compromise my work or that of the thousands of talented people it is my honor to work alongside,” he said.

Instapundit notes that it wasn’t the act as much as the coverup. Of course, he is right in terms of the temperature – it built steadily without a vent and reached a pressure point. . ught down better men than he. We tend to forgive; those mea culpas by the famous have a certain purging power. But it wasn’t really just the coverup – it was what he said. It was a lie, one that arose from a sloppy disregard for truth and driven by powerful biases and agendas. And the problem isn’t the “conflicting accounts”; what happened at Davos didn’t stay at Davos and the accounts other than Mr. Jordan’s have not been all that conflicting. [Nor is the history that supportive of his position; look at the interview with Jules Crittenden about the journalists killed at the Palestine hotel at the Mudville Gazette.

But in a real sense the lie continues. It is not acknowledged as lie – just, well, misunderstanding. Just as CBS managed to bring out a report that told truths but ignored the elephant (or in their case the donkey) in the middle of the room, this resignation, too, leaves us without a verdict that defines the crime. Good courtroom drama & tragedy offer the fulfillment of resolution. But Jordan does not accept the verdict, he doesn’t mention the there that is there – his charge that American soldiers targetted reporters nor his earlier, similar charges. So, I suspect, in a few years both this and Rathergate will be played (much as the Swift Boats’ story already is) as examples of “mob” lynching – of that new, powerful blogosphere flexing its muscles in an unseemly manner, of these as innocent men pursued by baying hounds. And what was done, that aroused those hounds, will be lost.

I hope I’m wrong – perhaps I am. But let’s see how the allusions to these various events work in five years time. Now, we have foreshadowing in the weasel (not uncommon in such resignations, of course) words of Jordan; his “conflicting accounts” is followed by the more attention getting drama of “alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq”; the passive “unfairly tarnished” with the active devotion of his life to “helping make CNN the most trusted and respected news outlet in the world.” My but how he has learned to brand. No tobacco executive could move the playing field so deftly – indeed, people like Jordan make their living by words, robber barons don’t. The reporter has an unfair advantage, one enlarged by his clear belief that truth is relative. Soon, we almost forget that he actually spoke – there were words (and those were real words on that tape and in the ears of the people in that room). He speaks as if “conflicting accounts” arose because the truth was undiscoverable–remains as mysterious and unknowable to him as it is to us. Logically, this is preoposterous. But the preposterous, when kept artfully implicit, can be effectively buried if we move along quickly, assured there is nothing to look at there. [And that spin has already been heavily applied over the week-end – Jordan is in the midst of action and cares about his reporters who also are; he was “brought down” by bloggers at home in pajamas.]

Perhaps NPR can continue its habit of hiring lefties from the major media who’ve had ethical problems: surely Daniel Schorr is getting ready to retire; Rather could slip in, barely changing the name on the door. And Eason Jordan as an NPR administrator wouldn’t have to change his vision of, say, the Palestinians. On the other hand, I’m often stuck with it as my sole entertainment; I wonder if they would keep the light touch? NPR also does those intermittently attractive human interest stories – mainly of ACLU, folk music, granola types – but they, too, have their charms. Rather’s folksy allusions might do well describing what, clogging? mountain dulcimers? elections of women sheriffs? I’m afraid, however, that Jordan would best fit in the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie world of Pacifica, arranging for interviews of Lynne Stewart by Mumia.

6 thoughts on “Easing Out Eason”

  1. I find it interesting that International Media outlets will move heaven and earth to reveal information that the people have the right to know. Ms. Mapes, we were told, worked on the Bush National Guard story for five years. In the end she had to rely upon a highly biased and highly impeachable source to provide documents that were tailor made to tell the story that she had set out to tell five years before.

    But no one, it seems, can get a transcript or copy of the video tape that was made of Jordan’s comments. Why is that, I wonder?

  2. Craig —

    The folks who have custody of the tape claim that the session was ‘off the record’ and they thus need permission of all who attended the session to release the tape. Lots of luck.

    It occurred to me that I might find a specfic reference from the WEF about the release of the tape but have decided that if any one is interested in this affair they should go to Sysyphean Musings and scroll.

    Easongate is another place to look.

  3. Another good summary at Malkin. An approach that is a good deal more friendly to both Jordan and CNN (and one who was actually there) can be found at two posts on McKinnen – here and here. Another good roundup here, with Rosen.

    One thing that becomes clear at McKinnen is that while Fox may be biased, it actually invites opposition if only to brow beat them. CNN is more wedded to innuendo. Bullying confrontation is hardly news gathering – Hannity is offensive – but it is better than locking people out.

    McKinnen notes what has been lost (not so much by bloggers but by CNN’s choice of “frame”):

    Of course the U.S. military is NOT out to get journalists. Nor is “the media” out to get the military. But have individual soldiers at times exercised bad judgment that’s worth looking into? Perhaps so, though we don’t know for sure due to lack of information. All we have is some claims by some people. Have some journalists gotten carried away by anti-military biases and agendas? Absolutely. The point is, there are clearly some real tensions and disagreements about what’s been taking place on the ground in Iraq – and why. As a member of the audience during the now-infamous panel, one thing was very clear to me: bad feeling between U.S. servicepeople and journalists in Iraq is coloring news coverage. No matter where you stand on the war or anything else, you have to recognize that nobody is served by letting this bad feeling fester, supported by much rumor and few facts.

  4. Uncle Bill,

    do you think the same scruple would protect a quote by Pres. Bush, John Ashcroft, et al.? My point is, that tape would have been leaked before its existence was ever known.

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