Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Eason Jordan, Executive Vice President and Chief News Executive for CNN, claimed that the US Military purposefully targeted and killed journalists during the Iraq War. He did not say this in some back room or in some secret memo, he said this in an open forum with US Congressmen and foreign VIPs on live TV for distribution to the world. He said this at the World Economic Forum session on "Will Democracy Survive the Media." (Not if CNN can help it!) From the report, which you can click on above:
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.
This is the same Eason Jordan who wrote "The News we Kept to Ourselves" in the New York Times about how CNN did not report on the human rights abuses of Saddam so that Saddam would allow CNN to stay in the country and keep reporting (nothing).
Perhaps Eason was refering to this event? when the USA fired a tank shell at the Palestine Hotel and three journalists were killed when the soldiers believed they were under fire. Lower in the article is this note:
In related developments, Reporters Without Borders voiced its concern that a CNN crew’s security escort returned fire with an automatic weapon when the crew came under fire near Tikrit. CNN has been using a private security firm to protect some its crews. The use of firearms is a practice contrary to all the rules of the profession, the organization said.
“Such a practice sets a dangerous precedent that could jeopardize all other journalists covering this war as well as others in the future,” Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Menard said. “There is a real risk that combatants will henceforth assume that all press vehicles are armed,” he warned.
So, even though Mr. Jordan backpeddled when challenged on whether the US military killed journalists on purpose, even though Mr. Jordan claimed, when challenged, that he didn't believe what he, himself, had just said to an international audience, the universe of anti-americanism was given a gift by one of the largest news agencies in the world... Eason Jordan's statement that the United States of American targets and kills journalists on purpose. We'll see how that plays on Arab TV.
Update: Eason Jordan is doing some damage control through blogs and personal contacts... but I'll wait for the transcript.