Wright from Washington City
February 15, 2005


Eason Jordan said an upsetting thing
But is it true?



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Perhaps by now our readers are aware of the resignation of Eason Jordan as "chief news executive" at CNN. The reason for his perhaps-not-entirely-voluntary departure was the uproar that followed when he was quoted as saying that U.S. soldiers were killing journalists in Iraq.

The first I heard of it was on the Jim Lehrer News Bore the night of Monday, February 14. Jordan made the remarks off the record at the 2005 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (inspiring motto: Committed to Improving the State of the World), in luxurious Davos, Switzerland. It was one of those elite groupings of Important People convened to discuss Important Matters, blissfully free of the gaze of the Great Unwashed — you know, the sort of confab that excites the dark suspicions of those who believe the world is being run by a small elite grouping of Important People who get together to determine our fate.

According to someone who was said to be present, Jordan was upset about the dangers faced by journalists in Iraq, saying that he knew of 10 instances in which they were targeted by U.S. soldiers. In response, right-wing Web-loggers ("bloggers") blew the issue up into a tempest in a beer can. They were, of course, outraged that this liberal pantywaist media bleeding heart could defame Our Brave Soldiers Fighting for Our Freedom, blah, blah, blah.

Instead of standing his ground, Jordan backpedaled. In a memo to his CNN staff, he said, "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." ("CNN Exec Resigns over Iraq Remarks," Associated Press, posted at CBS News, February 12, 2005)

However, that groveling was not enough. On Friday, February 11, he was apparently forced to resign.

Here's the interesting part: following Jordan's resignation, the entire controversy within the Ministry of Truth has centered on these questions: a) do bloggers have too much power and influence (one person on Lehrer actually said that the media no longer have "sovereignty" over the news); and b) what ever possessed Jordan to say such an outrageous thing.

I have looked and looked, but I have found nobody in the Mainstream Media who has debated whether or not what Jordan said is true.

It may be that Jordan exaggerated. It may be that, even though he knows about such incidents, he can't document them. It may even be that he lied. But one thing is certain: a lot of journalists are being killed in Iraq, and many of them have been killed by U.S. forces.

In April 2003, a U.S. tank fired a shell at the Palestine Hotel, where most of the foreign journalists were staying. According to witnesses, no one had been firing out of the hotel and no military action hostile to the Empire was occurring within it; and the imperial attack seemed quite deliberate. Two journalists died in the resulting explosion. The Empire's spokesman later asserted that hostile fire had come from the hotel. ("Footage said to show tank deliberately fired at hotel," Agence France Presse, posted by Sydney Morning Herald, April 9, 2003. You'll have to sign up to access the story.)

In January 2004, Reuters made a formal complaint to the Pentagon after U.S. soldiers shot at one of their camera crews filming a crashed U.S. helicopter. The complaint said also that three other of its journalists were later arrested, "brutalized," and initially charged with opening fire on imperial legionaries. It was alleged that the soldiers put bags over the journalists' heads and threatened them with rape. ("U.S. military 'brutalised' journalists," The Guardian, January 13, 2004)

On March 18, 2004, Iraqi journalists walked out of an official Imperial press conference in Baghdad's Green Zone, in protest over the large number of their colleagues being killed by U.S. soldiers. Most especially, they were upset about the deaths at a checkpoint, in a hail of U.S. bullets, of two of their number working for Al-Iraqiya television. ("Iraqi Reporters Rebuff Powell, Leave News Conference," Reuters, posted at The Agonist, March 19, 2004)

And in September 2004, a U.S. helicopter opened fire on a large crowd of civilians celebrating around a knocked-out U.S. armored vehicle, killing at least 13, including a TV journalist who was preparing to cover the scene. ("Motive for Haifa Street Helicopter Massacre Remains a Mystery" by Brian Dominick, The NewStandard, September 14, 2004)

Moreover, let us not overlook the fact that Al Jazeera's offices both in Baghdad and Kabul have been bombed by U.S. warplanes. Al Jazeera, the TV network based in Oman, has been a thorn in the side of U.S. forces because of its "distorted" coverage of the War on the Iraqis. Of course, bombing TV stations is old hat to the Empire, which smashed them and other media outlets in Serbia in the 1990s for broadcasting "lies."

As for less-violent tactics directed at journalists, in August of 2004 the United State simply banned Al Jazeera from operating in Iraq, and police of the puppet regime seized and occupied the network's Baghdad headquarters. So much for all that "freedom" the heroic Americans are supposedly fighting for. ("New ban on Al-Jazeera criticised," posted at Reporters without Borders, September 6, 2004.)

Despite those provocative facts, the Big Media have steadfastly decided to look the other way. Where are the staunch defenders of "freedom of the press" and "freedom of expression," the people who used to raise a stink whenever a media person was threatened? Where are all those screeching liberal gadflies who made life hell for the Imperial Legions during the time of the Pentagon Papers and COINTELPRO? Where is all the outrage that dominated news coverage of the secret bombing of Cambodia?

Something very important has happened. While members of Big Media used to be insufferably arrogant and touchy about their First Amendment prerogatives, today they're apparently too scared to make a peep about them — or about anything that might threaten the Regime. Whether they're wary of actions by the Regime, or skittish about the mouth-breathing followers of Limbaugh, Hannity, and O'Reilly, or both, I don't know.

But there is no doubt that this is an important milestone on our accelerating descent into overt, instead of polite, totalitarianism.

February 15, 2005

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