February 02, 2005

The full picture?

Posted by Mary Madigan

In October 2002, CNN’s news chief Eason Jordan told Franklin Foer of The New Republic that his network gave "a full picture" of Saddam’s regime." He challenged Foer to find instances of CNN neglecting stories about Saddam's horrors.

In April 2003, Jordan admitted in a New York Times op-ed that CNN had learned some "awful things" about the Saddam’s regime that they were afraid to print for fear of losing access to live camera feeds.

Jordan, who downplayed the crimes of Saddam’s regime, is now speculating, without any proof, in a very public forum, that members of the American military targeted and murdered a dozen journalists.

According to Rony Abovitz

During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others.

Due to the nature of the forum, I was able to directly challenge Eason, asking if he had any objective and clear evidence to backup these claims, because if what he said was true, it would make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park. David Gergen was also clearly disturbed and shocked by the allegation that the U.S. would target journalists, foreign or U.S. He had always seen the U.S. military as the providers of safety and rescue for all reporters.

Eason seemed to backpedal quickly, but his initial statements were backed by other members of the audience (one in particular who represented a worldwide journalist group). The ensuing debate was (for lack of better words) a real "sh--storm". What intensified the problem was the fact that the session was a public forum being taped on camera, in front of an international crowd.

Hugh Hewitt has more..

While Jordan’s statement may not cause as much damage as Noam Chomsky’s statement that the U.S. intended to ‘casually starve’ a million Afghans to death in a "silent genocide", it seems to come from the same impulse. Downplaying the crimes of dictators while exaggerating, or making up 'facts' about crimes committed by the United States is passive aggressive form of attack that some seem to find habit-forming.

UPDATE: According to Instapundit, foreign journalists aren't corroborating Jordan.

Of course, the Guardian has a history of repeating what Jordan says, verbatim, but they’ll believe anything.

As to the question of why established professionals like Eason feel that they have to make stuff up, commenter ZF says:

The common thread, it seems to me, is that these are all 60's liberal white males having some sort of mid-life crisis which has impelled them to invent a grandiose, exaggerated and heroic version of their past. Maybe we should look at this as a male version of cosmetic surgery?
Sounds about right.. Posted by Mary Madigan at February 2, 2005 03:26 PM
Comments

Captain's Quarters has evidence that Jordan has said similar things, with no more evidence, at other times in the past.

I just read Peter Charles Hoffer's book 'Past Imperfect', on a series of frauds perpetrated by American historians. One of the four modern cases he discusses is that of Joseph Ellis, the Mount Holyoke history professor who won a Pulitzer prize for his book 'Founding Brothers'.

Ellis was caught out in 2001 after fabricating and recounting to his students a heroic past including leading roles in student protests in the 1960's, civil rights protests in the South and fighting in the Vietnam War: "There was a pattern in Ellis' fabrications. He was not just a grunt in Vietnam, he was a platoon leader in an elite airborne division. He was not just any high school fottball player, he scored the winning touchdown in the last game. He was not just a civil rights worker - he he trained other civil rights workers and went South into the belly of the beast... They made him bigger than his life."

Ellis' case of course prefigured, to a startling degree another one three years later: that of John Kerry and his fabricated recollections of trips to Cambodia, exposed during the 2004 campaign.

The common thread, it seems to me, is that these are all 60's liberal white males having some sort of mid-life crisis which has impelled them to invent a grandiose, exaggerated and heroic version of their past. Maybe we should look at this as a male version of cosmetic surgery?

Posted by: ZF at February 2, 2005 05:19 PM

My point, which I guess I might have made clearer, is that Jordan is portraying himself as one of a band of "heroes under attack", "speaking the truth to power", etc., which presumably goes down well with airheaded interns and recent college graduates he presumably finds himself surrounded with at CNN. In this he is like Ellis and Kerry.

Posted by: ZF at February 2, 2005 05:23 PM

ZF's argument seem tighter than a drum to me. Damn it, I'm tempted to engage in a little plagiarism. That was really good.

Posted by: David Thomson at February 2, 2005 05:27 PM

Eason Jordan was paid by Saddam Hussein in exchange for supressing stories unfavorable to Saddam's regime. I also have it on good authority that Eason has a thing for underage boys and uses his CNN connections worldwide to keep his stable supplied with a steady rotation of third world kids.

OK, I don't know if any of those things are true, but if Eason Jordan can say what he wants and then backpedal, why can't I?

Posted by: Stu at February 2, 2005 06:14 PM

Of course, as Jordan surely knows, you must be circumspect which power you speak truth to. In Washington DC or NY, this is a risk-free endeavor; in the former Ba'athist Iraq, well, the situation was more problematic.

Posted by: Zacek at February 2, 2005 07:29 PM

The casual irresponsibility of leading media figures in the USA is breathtaking. Dan Rather cost CBS its hard earned credibility, and it appears that Eason Jordan has done the same to CNN. He should be shown the door ASAP.

In the United States, Jordan can make irresponsible statements and get a pass. But this statement potentially has very real consequences, possibly up to and including the deaths of American soldiers. He should be made to understand those consequences by losing his job.

Posted by: Ben at February 2, 2005 08:04 PM

ZF – LOL. Your theory explains it all – from Norman Mailer to Eason Jordan to Kerry and Ellis. It probably explains why academia is so full of people like this.

It's replaced the red sportscar as the mid-life crisis symbol.

Posted by: mary at February 2, 2005 08:45 PM

Ben - I wish Jordan was shown the door after he admitted that he kept many of Saddam's horrific crimes secret. He was spreading propaganda, not news. CNN should have fired him then.

Posted by: mary at February 2, 2005 09:02 PM

it's replaced the red sportscar as the mid-life crisis symbol

Haha, you gotta love the Irish!

Posted by: Fish at February 2, 2005 09:43 PM

The Right should learn from Left -- boycott advertisers on CNN; send the advertisers letters that Eason Jordan should be fired (copy CNN).

Who "owns" CNN? ... Time Warner. "Attack" their money, by peacefully choosing alternatives. But let them know.

He has free speech -- so do those who find him despicable. But those murdered by Saddam no longer have any speech.

Note that the Pentagon may have (has?) admitted that some journalists have been killed, in collateral damage/ friendly fire -- perhaps like Pat Tillman. This is different than targeting, in a similar way an auto fatality is different than a murder. In both cases the victim is dead. But "justice" depends on motive.

The Left wants to claim that the US, and especially Bush, has bad motives. This is despicable.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at February 3, 2005 01:00 AM

Eason Jordan is a member of the establishment. He probably earns at least a half million dollars annually. In the back of Jordan’s mind, he imagines himself as a radical speaking truth to power. Yup, the man is likely suffering a mid-life crisis.

Posted by: David Thomson at February 3, 2005 06:22 AM

We should add, of course, Ward Churchill to the list of white middle-aged poseurs (he has apparently made a career out of posing disingenuously as an American Indian as well as an AK47-toting activist).

Posted by: ZF at February 3, 2005 06:41 AM

Good stuff ZF, do you have a blog of your own?

Posted by: Mike T. at February 3, 2005 07:54 AM

Mike: thinking about it. I have a work commitment which is about to consume most of my time. Thanks for the support.

Posted by: ZF at February 3, 2005 08:39 AM

Eason Jordan is a part of a much bigger problem. The media is intellectually corrupt across the board.

Posted by: MisterPundit at February 3, 2005 04:14 PM

I think I recall Jordan was aware that Saddam was planning to kill his 2 sons-in-law yet did nothing to warn them and he admitted this explicitely. Any lawyers out there who could come up with the appropriate legal charge to address this? Perhaps Ramsey Clark would be willing to defend Jordan after he's finished with Saddam...

Posted by: Julie at February 3, 2005 07:40 PM

Someone mentioned in LGF that Jordan is probably looking to compete with Al Jazeera for anti-Amierican audience. Ratingwise CNN is getting clobbered by FoxNews in America, and they need new market to expand to regain their lost revenue. This is why Jordan won't be fired. He's merely following the script.

Posted by: BigFire at February 3, 2005 07:48 PM

If anyone needs a term for the role Jordan took in relation to Saddam:

"access harlotry"

Posted by: Alan Furman at February 3, 2005 09:36 PM

What Liberal Media?

Nothing to see here folks; keep moving along.
You're certainly not going to see any liberal anti-American media bias. No siree-bob.

Eric Alterman please report to the white courtesy phone.

Posted by: phil at February 4, 2005 08:40 AM

ZF, painfully on target! Look at Senator Harkin or Micah Ian Wright. We must coin a blog term (ala "fisk") to succintly describe this psychosis. I suggest "ZF syndrome".

glenmore

Posted by: glenmore at February 4, 2005 09:22 AM

Apparently as of this morning we can add Ward Churchill to the "ZF syndrome" list, although it feels more accurate to keep classifying his behavior as a scam rather than portraying Churchill as a victim.

Churchill is sounding more like Joseph Ellis every minute. The American Digest link provided by Wretchard has this, among other luridly improbable and apparently long-disputed biographical claims:

Ward Churchill's 1980 Resume... [t]he resume states Churchill served in Vietnam in 1968 as a "Public Information Specialist" writing battalion reports and press releases among other things.

But an interesting passage in this ICC document cites a 1991 resume in which Churchill "indicates he is Airborne/Recondo trained with multiple decorations" during the same tour of duty...

Is anyone else beginning to guess that another thing all these guys have in common is spending much of their time surrounded by an endless series of gullible female college students/interns?

The best satirical account of this whole phenomenon is a book published, amazingly, in 1975 (Malcolm Bradbury's 'The History Man').

Posted by: ZF at February 4, 2005 11:55 AM

ZF,

That was always a pet theory of mine:

Radical schtick = trying to score with coeds.

glenmore

Posted by: glenmore at February 4, 2005 01:12 PM

Speaking of ‘radical shtick’ academics, one of the worst offenders I’ve ever seen was Marc Herold.

He’s the economist and woman’s studies professor from New Hampshire who made up bogus statistics that ‘proved’ that the war in Afghanistan was a ‘racist’ war. He also severely inflated the civilian body count, a figure that was (of course) repeated in publications like the Guardian.

His methodology is also being used for the Iraq Body Count figures.

He is also the possessor of the worst combover in the contiguous United States.

Posted by: mary at February 4, 2005 02:50 PM

Seems like a lot of mid-life crises going on now.

Oh Jeez, that's right; what's the average age of a baby-boomer now??

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