Posts from February 11, 2005

Media on media

Media on media

: I’m making my maiden voyage on Howard Kurtz’ show Sunday. He said tonight after calling for quotes on Eason Jordan, “We’ll have plenty to talk about.” Oh, yeah.

Eason Jordan quits

Eason Jordan quits

: Eason Jordan resigns CNN. And I honestly don’t get it. If he had been upfront about what he said from the start; if he had demanded that Davos release the tape and transcript; if he had admitted to putting his foot in his mouth and apologized and said he was wrong; if he’d done that, he’d still have a job. For a lesson, see: Dan Rather. But he released obfuscating statements and didn’t level with the public he’s supposed to serve and now he’s slinking away like a criminal when he should be apologizing for saying something stupid. Pride goeth with the fall:

CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan quit Friday amid a furor over remarks he made in Switzerland last month about journalists killed by the U.S. military in Iraq. Jordan said he was quitting to avoid CNN being “unfairly tarnished” by the controversy….

“I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise,” Jordan said in a memo to fellow staff members at CNN.

But the damage had been done, compounded by the fact that no transcript of his actual remarks has turned up. There was an online petition calling on CNN to find a transcript, and fire Jordan if he said the military had intentionally killed journalists….

“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….

He could have called his muckety-buddies at Davos and gotten the tape and released a transcript and admitted his error and apologized for it. But he didn’t. I repeat: I don’t get it. Could it be that he watched the tape and saw that it was a killer? But how could it have been worse than what was reported already?

Or could it be that this was a final straw with his bosses, who said that he’d marched on his tongue once too often? If that is the case, then the bosses sure took a long time to decide that.

Oh, yeah, I used to work at Time Warner. They do take a long time to decide anything. It’s not easy getting task forces to meet.

Here’s what has always amazed me about my business: News people, who are used by PR people, are the worst at figuring out their own PR.

: Jay Rosen has Jordan’s statement.

While my CNN colleagues and my friends in the U.S. military know me well enough to know I have never stated, believed, or suspected that U.S. military forces intended to kill people they knew to be journalists, my comments on this subject in a World Economic Forum panel discussion were not as clear as they should have been.

I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise. I have great admiration and respect for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, with whom I have worked closely and been embedded in Baghdad, Tikrit, and Mosul, in addition to my time with American soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen in Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the Arabian Gulf.

: Here’s NZ Bear’s Eason roundup.

: Lucianne says: “High tens to the Pajamahadeen – Let the revolution begin”

: At 8:20p I still can’t find the story on CNN.com.

: UPDATE: CNN has the story up. Says it went up at 8:19; missed each other by a minute.

: On the air at 10:08p, CNN reports on l’affaire Gannon. I don’t hear anything about l’affaire Jordan.

: I’ll repeat what I said a few days ago: This is about the speed of news in a world of citizen publishers (which means you can’t wait almost two weeks to respond to citizens’ questions and demands) and about the gatekeepers losing their gates (and their control) and about the death of off-the-record (when anybody who hears you can publish to the world).

: Sisyphus is baffled.

: The delicious tags feed on Jordan.

More from La Shawn Barber.

: Kaus adds:

P.S.: It should also be noted that the controversy was kept alive not just by blogs, but by the refusal of a relatively liberal Democrat, Barney Frank, to sweep it under the rug in gentlemanly fashion. …

: Mark at Decision ’08 predicts what some will say about blogs tomorrow:

No, this one is different. This time it was the bloggers, and the bloggers alone, that pushed this man out. That will be heady stuff for some; it will scare the pants off of others…but what does it mean, really? Have we entered an era where our lives can be destroyed by a pack of wolves hacking at their keyboards with no oversight, no editors, and no accountability? Or does it mean that we’ve entered a brave new world where the MSM has become irrelevant?

I would argue that neither of those extremes is the case. What has been shown, though, is that the mass media, mainstream media, MSM, whatever you want to call it, is being held to account as never before by the strong force of individual citizens who won’t settle for sloppy research and inflammatory comments without foundation, particularly from those with a wide national reach, such as Rather and Eason….

: What’s the goal of these hunts? To get people fired? Or to get to the truth? I’d like to think it is the latter. If Dan Rather had come out the day after his report and said, “Thank you,” to the bloggers and sought the truth, many would have still been suspicious and critical, but I think his tale would have a different ending. If Jordan had left a comment on the Davos blog as soon as the post went up and said, “Man, I misspoke and didn’t mean to say that and I was wrong,” people would still be pissed, but I think his tale would have a different ending. If “Jeff Gannon” had fessed up immediately, he wouldn’t have had a different ending — he’d be out of the press club — but he wouldn’t be whining about being “harrassed.”

Take a lesson from Bill Moyers, who messed up and correctd himself and apologized like a man (and a journalist). I’m not Moyers’ biggest fan but you have to say that he put the truth ahead of his stubborness.

Learn this lesson well: The speed of news has changed and so has the speed of scandal. You can’t wait and hope something will go away. Today, that’s tantamount to a coverup. Dan Rather: Remember Dick Nixon?

Citizens’ media has turn down the stonewall.

: Oh, yes, and before we forget… Davos: Release the tape! You, too, can’t stonewall or your little club will become known as the place where the powerful can try to lie.

: NEXT MORNING UPDATE: Joe Gandelman has one of his patented roundups.

: Rebecca MacKinnon worries:

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.

The heroism of the Iraqi voter

The heroism of the Iraqi voter

: Dan Henninger in the Wall Street Journal nominates the Iraqi voter for the Nobel Peace Prize. I second that nomination:

They have already won the world’s peace prize by demonstrating in a single day a commitment not seen in our lifetime to peace, self-determination and human rights — the goals for which the Nobel Peace Prize began in 1901. Formal recognition by the Nobel Committee of what the Iraqi people did on Jan. 30 would do more to ensure the furtherance of these goals, in concrete ways, than any other imaginable recipient this year. Who did more?

The history of the Peace Prize shows as well that Iraq’s voters placed themselves squarely at the center of one of the Nobel Committee’s enduring, seemingly quixotic, goals — peace in the Middle East.

: And right next to that on the WSJ edit page, Bernard Lewis — a Middle East expert I’ll take over Juan P.S. Cole any day — says the are not only heroic but historic:

The Iraqi election is a momentous occasion even in the long history of that cradle of civilizations that we now call the Middle East. This election was an achievement first and foremost of the Iraqi people, who showed both wisdom and courage — wisdom in recognizing the meaning of freedom though it was unfamiliar, courage in operating it despite both danger and inexperience.

The critics have been proved wrong, both the so-called realists, more accurately denigrators, and some of the so-called friends and supporters, more precisely previous or expectant participants in the profits of tyranny….

The cause of freedom has won a major battle, but it has not yet won the war. Democracy in Iraq and elsewhere in the region faces a double threat, on the one hand from ruthless and resolute enemies, on the other from fickle and hesitant friends. We must stay with the Iraqi democrats, even if their choice of rulers is not what some of us would have preferred. It is their country, and freedom — a free election — means that the choice is theirs.

But our role has been, and will for a while remain, crucial. In successive phases, we enabled the peoples of Axis-ruled Europe and Asia to create or restore democracy. More recently, we helped give the peoples of the former Soviet bloc the opportunity to do the same, and some are well on the way. Now it is time for the countries of the Middle East to join the Free World, and recover their rightful place in the forefront of civilization.

—-gate

—-gate

: On l’affaire Gannon, Robert Cox of The National Debate asks:

Does anyone else find it amusing that the leading liberal blogger, Kos, is among those leading the charge in attacking a guy for acquiring a press pass while writing for a partisan, advocacy web site.

This IS the same Kos who, as Chris Nolan noted, showed up at a “Western DNC” event wearing a press and was credentialed at the DNC, right?

Seems to me this is another “whose ox is getting gored” story.

Hmmmm.

: On l’affaire Jordan (I agree with Jay Rosen that we shouldn’t be —-gating everything until we know it’s a —-gate), Hugh Hewitt says that Jay, Mickey Kaus, and I are bloggers from the left who are following the Jordan story. OK, thanks. But the real reason I decided to blog it is more because I follow media. I learned my lesson in l’affaire Rather, when I missed the media story because I was following the mud. Note that the media story takes a little more time to develop as we watch who does and doesn’t report on the tale. That’s why I was late posting on l’affaires Gannon and Jordan, but I did.

: Jay Rosen has a great post this morning on various media fallout clouds from the Jordan and Gannon stories.

: Just asking: FoxNews has covered the Jordan story. Have they covered the Gannon story? (I wish TV news were searchable, too! But it’s not, so I’m asking you.)

CNN has covered the Gannon story. Have they yet made a mention of the Jordan story?

The NYTimes has covered Gannon. Has it covered Jordan?

Jeff Gannon on GoogleNews. Eason Jordan on GoogleNews.

: ABC Radio News called this morning on these stories. Their angle seemed to be that bloggers are a nasty mob going after people. I said this is about people having a voice and more voices and good (usual soundbite). They included in this the tale of the Baltimore mayor, below. I said that tale proved just how effective the internet is at getting to the truth, for in the old days, this stupid political hack would have smeared mud on an opponent in the background and here he did it on the internet and was found out for the smearer he was.

: UPDATE: Someone smart responded to Cox (above) with some points I’d like to make. The response was made on an email list and I didn’t get the OK to use his name so I’ll paraphrase the points:

He said that the real question and the real issue is whether the White House put a ringer in the press corps. If that happened, it’s a misuse of the power; it’s a fraud on the public. I absolutely agree with that.

What if the White House did not actively coconspire with “Gannon” to stack the press deck? Motive still matters. They surely knew he came from a — cough — friendly — cough — news service. If they didn’t let in someone from a service on the other side, then it’s still stacking the deck and that’s still wrong.

Next point: Kos was credentialed as a blogger and wasn’t given a rare space in a Presidential press conference and wasn’t called on by said President to ask a softball question. Fair point.

Is the only issue scarcity of seats or power of the event? Or is it consistency? Kos says he’s not a journalist but an advocate but he gets press passes. In a world of opinionated media and citizens’ media, I can argue in favor of that easily. But then we have to ask where is this OK and not: Is it OK to give an advocate a press pass at a political convention or on a campaign bus — but not OK at an FCC press conference or a White House press conference? If you give such passes to advocates from one side, should you give them to advocates from the other? It’s not a simple issue from either side of the prism.

Cox still has a point about — what should I call it? — hypocrisy, no? He complains about political advocate getting press access but he gets press access. I score that one for Cox.

But this respondent raises one more important point: There is a rhetorical trick in the air with people taking one perceived sin from one side and putting it against a perceived sin from the other side and thinking that is both equivalent and balanced. Are Gannon and Jordan equivalent and does reporting both of them make the reporter balanced? Ditto Bush’s and Kerry’s service records? It not only makes for fake column-a/column-b cable-news balance, it even motivates the press to go after somebody from one side when they start reporting on a scandal from the other side so it can seem balanced.

: UPDATE: The smart person paraphrased above is David Weinberger. Just got his OK to say that.

ID me

ID me

: I know some folks will squeal about this but I’m in favor of electronic ID cards.