The community of unaccredited journalists has entered into the lists once more to do battle with the off-hand treason of a ‘credentialed’ member of the MSM.
This time it is no light-weight anchor reading someone else’s fabrications on the air. Instead the blogosphere finds itself arrayed against the Chief News Executive of CNN, Eason Jordan, who has his own claim to make re: the perfidy of the US military.
This time the setting was the World Economic Forum in Davos, in a panel discussion entitled –with delicious irony — “Will Democracy Survive the Media.” Here, Mr. Jordan
asserted more than once that he knew of twelve journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted.
When pressed to substantiate these claims, Mr. Jordan “seemed to back pedal quickly,” even though his assertions were backed up by other members of the audience.
The allegation may be the beginning of a firestorm: this was a public forum and the debate, growing more heated, was also being taped. Even now it is likely being shown on TV across the Middle East. That’s bad news for the US, which must attempt to refute his remarks. As the WEF blogger notes, such claims “make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park.” However, the outcome may be weighted in the favor of truth since there were present at the panel discussion these men: the panel moderator, David Gergen of Harvard, and U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, a member of the panel; in the audience was US Senator Christopher Dodd.
All three observed Mr. Jordan’s ” wavering” when confronted on his statements, but they also saw the “passion” in his assertions and the vocal agreement from other members of the audience. More on that in a moment.
Who remembers “The News We Kept to Ourselves“? In this narrative, written in 2004 and printed in the New York Times, Mr. Jordan recounted disturbing stories about the routine torture and sometimes gruesome deaths of his employees. These people suffered because they were CNN employees, under suspicion by Saddam Hussein and his security forces. Mr. Jordan had a decade of memories from his dozen or more visits to pre-war Iraq.
One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.
The reader of these haunting events is sure the account will end in a flash of outrage. CNN’s chief news executive will tell us how he shouts “Basta!” and removes his new organization from Iraq. Except he never does. Under the cover of his need for “access” Mr. Jordan’s CNN stayed on in Iraq until being summarily booted by Saddam Hussein in October 2002. In a CNN story about the expulsion Mr. Jordan proclaimed that “CNN will not compromise its journalistic principles in exchange for CNN access to any country.” This new-found Olympian integrity seems to have been generated by Saddam; it did not extend to preventing the torture and deaths of his Iraqi employees in the previous decade. They appear to have been expendable –in fact,were expended. Aa small price to pay for exclusive American ‘access’ to Baghdad for ten years or more. As the New Sisyphus points out
CNN’s continued presence continued to put Iraqis at risk, a risk CNN was self-evidently complicit in. CNN could have reported all these stories and refused to collaborate with a terrorist regime, but instead it chose to remain and to repeat, daily, the sordid lies so familiar to anyone who has had the misfortune to lie in a totalitarian regime.
Nothing wrong here. Reports of terror are so many American lies. The people here love Saddam. During the entire run-up to the Iraq war, the nation’s leading news network had evidence of the kind of cruelty and torture President Bush accused the Iraqi regime of (“Axis of Evil,” what a moron!) and chose to do and say absolutely nothing. This from a network that would go on to hype the criminal activities of a few renegade soldiers at Abu Ghraib as the Worst War Crime of All Time.
Every time a person watched a CNN report on Iraq up til April 2003, that person was being lied to. Every time you watch a report on CNN about Syria, North Korea, Iran or Zimbabwe, you have to know that this is an organization that has proved itself “ready to do business” with murderous regimes in order to file those reports.
WEF calls on Congressman Frank and Senator Dodd, witnesses to Mr. Jordan’s perfidy, to
clear up this mess, use your power and authority as elected leaders and make transparent what really happened. You must do this to respect the 12 journalists killed and let the world know how and why. Here is another challenge, and this one is for CNN…What the hell happened?
And New Sisyphus says he
called Mr. Jordan’s Atlanta office to “ask him what the hell he was thinking when he was covering up human rights abuses for access, and more, what was he thinking when he took to the pages of the NY Times to admit it.
What indeed, Mr. Jordan? And why did you find it tolerable that Iraqis suffered and died so that you could have access to Baghdad and report a tyrant’s lies? By what moral authority do you have standing to accuse the US military in a public forum of “targeting” journalists? You, sir, stand accused by a number of thoughtful people of targeting both the truth and common human decency.
You did not return New Sisyphus’ phone call. Perhaps you will do so if the American Congress calls for an appointment.
See you in Committee.