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Eason Jordan etc.

During the last fortnight or so I have watched with fascination as the Eason Jordan story has unfolded. Here is a recent Instapundit posting about it.

Briefly, at a meeting in Davos on January 27th. Eason Jordan accused the US army of deliberately killing journalists. When challenged he retreated, but what exactly did he say, and how far did he retreat? A video exists, apparently, but has not yet been unveiled. For about a week, the Mainstream Media, hereinafter termed (as my QC Dad liked to put it) the MSM, ignored the story, while bloggers went to town with it.

Last Friday, Eason Jordan resigned from his job, as executive vice president and chief news executive of CNN. He did not accept any blame for his remarks, but said that he wanted to protect CNN from being “unfairly tarnished”.

At first, Eason Jordan and his colleagues probably hoped that this would be the end of the matter. Now that the lynch-bloggers had got their scalp, maybe they would stop their baying and yelling and go back to writing about God, guns, kittens, and suchlike. But the bloggers are not satisfied.

Eason Jordan himself is only the label for this story, he himself being only a part of it. The matter is absolutely not now closed, as the increasingly horrified MSM (mainstream media) are learning, to their severe discomfort. They have much more to learn yet. This furore, remember, was triggered by Jordan saying that the US military has been targetting journalists. So – question one – how much truth, if any, is there in this charge? This question will not go away just because, for the time being, Eason Jordan has.

Given that what Jordan said at that Davos meeting, and given who he was when he said it (the news boss of CNN), why – question two – did those other MSM people ignore the fact that he said it? Every MSM news editor in the USA stands accused of not doing his job. It is absolutely not Eason Jordan who stands alone in this killing field, and his mere corpse, for the bloggers most centrally involved, is not the point. What did he say? Is there any truth to it? And why the MSM silence?

Besides which, it is not a corpse. Eason Jordan resigned to save his career. He was not admitting career defeat and slinking off into retirement. By resigning, as the wording of his resignation announcement makes clear, Jordan was proving to his Team that he is still a Team Player, and he presumably hopes that in the future, when all this silly blogger nonsense has died down, that he will be appropriately rewarded. And he probably will be, despite everything.

The claim that the blogosphere is nothing but a bunch of bloodthirsty right wing lynch mobbers, which is what the MSM is now saying (the original wording for this yesterday was “what I expect some in the MSM will now to try to say” but things move fast), is false. Yes, there have been virtual high-fives in the blogosphere over the weekend, following Jordan’s resignation. But the emotional and intellectual fuel driving the blogosphere in this matter is not just the partisan desire to humiliate and to hurt.

Somewhat (I would have preferred “rather” but that word is best avoided in this context) in the way that the movies and television finally overcame their initial mutual antagonisms and started working together properly, creating both combined career paths (for entertainment creators and actors) and a combined entertainment package (movies on TV, DVDs, etc.) for us punters, the MSM and the bloggers are even now working out how to combine and to cooperate, albeit with much heat as well as light. When the MSM and the blogosphere arrive at a new media equilibrium, they will together add up to a truth engine mightier than the world has ever before seen. This is what the best of the bloggers now want, and the passion driving them to sink their collective teeth into stories like this Eason Jordan rumpus, in the end, creative, rather than only destructive.

The self image of the MSM is that they Speak Truth to Power. But, they are not themselves Power. Which is humbug. We all know that the MSM are the most successful exercise in left of centre politics in the USA since the Second World War. The MSM are definitely Power, and they have been Power with a Plan, rather than just Power for the hell of it.

The irony is that the MSM people who are now cursing and screaming about blogger lynch mobs, now, really are not Power anymore. Time was when such insults would have been The Story, because they said so and they were the only ones telling it. Not any more. As Tim Blair puts it:

Certain footwear now resides on an alternate pedal extremity, and journalists don’t like it.

Insults like this one from commenter “William Boykin” (?) here

“Jordan has just been tire-necklaced by a bloodthirsty group of utopian, bible-thumping knuckledraggers that believe themselves to be bloggers but are really just a street gang.”

… now serve only to draw attention to the writings of these “knuckledraggers”. Will this knuckledragger thing join the pajama crack as the Easongate soundbite that defines the idiocy of the blogosphere’s ignorantly abusive enemies, the way pajamas did for the Dan Rather story? Or will it be salivating morons? Simply, the MSM no longer control the news agenda. Nobody does. The news agenda is no longer a decision, it is the outcome of a truly free and never-ending debate.

Speaking from a purely British point of view, I cannot help being envious of the intellectual firepower, time and effort, above all the weight of quality numbers, that the US blogosphere can now bring to bear on whichever MSM foolishness they decide to focus on, the way they have lately been focussing on the Eason Jordan story. The British blogosphere just does not have anything like a similar presence, yet.

And speaking some more from a purely British point of view, I wonder how long it will be before this kuckledragging lynch mob – that has already provoked Eason Jordan into resigning and is now busy pressing him and all his MSM defenders to stop screaming like knuckle-dragging baboons and to start talking sense and to start answering the blogosphere’s questions – decides to focus more intently than hitherto on the nearest thing we have to MSM in the American sense over here, namely the BBC.

I think it is only a matter of time. (It seems that a BBC man is actually a quite important part of the Eason Jordan story.) It will be a fascinating contest, and I expect the BBC to be a formidable opponent, far more cunning and more impressive than its pompous and arrogant USA counterparts. The bloggers will not, I predict, have it all their own way. If I were them (and I am!) I would say: pick on particular BBC people and particular BBC shows, and take it slowly. Do not attack the entire BBC. Try to change it somewhat, because that is all you can really hope to do.

47 comments to Eason Jordan etc.

  • GCooper

    Brian Micklethwait writes:

    “The British blogosphere just does not have anything like a similar presence, yet.”

    It doesn’t, but I have to take my hat off to Scott Burgess at The Daily Ablution, (Link)who does a formidable job and must be a hate object for the lazy, illiterate, propagandist hacks at the Graduina.

    Personally, I can’t wait (to name but one target) for the eco-fascists who set the agenda at BBC TV’s Newsnight to be challenged. They don’t even respond to critical e-mails (nor does the BBC’s complaints desk, come to that), so the sooner there is a venue in which their lies and distortions can be probed and exposed, the better.

    It’s good to see Rather and Jordan being held accountable for their relentless pursuit of a political agenda.

    Now let’s have our turn on this side of the herring pond.

  • I quite agree about the post-equilibrium “truth engine”. Television is not going to lose its place as the most powerful medium. However, it is going to have to change. I suspect there is going to be a huge battle over the next few years between the ne plus ultra knuckledraggers of the type you highlighted and the “well, actually, our job is, kinda sorta to tell the truth, yerknow” moderates, whose numbers are only likely to swell.

  • veryretired

    The “big lie” behind a great part of this situation is the claim of objectivity on the part of various media outlets such as major newspapers, magazines, TV news both local and network based, and all their assorted “analysts”.

    During the 18th and 19th centuries in the US, there were hundeds of small newspapers and pamphleteers, each with its own point of view and cultural/language niche, which appeared on a daily, weekly, or even monthly, basis. There was no claim of neutrality and objectivity. People read a certain paper because it gave them the news it thought important with the slant they had come to expect.

    In much the same way, during the early 20th century development of radio, there were hundreds of stations all over the country. Early TV was similar—when I was a kid, there were 3 network affiliates and 2 independent channels in our market, which was a medium sized midwestern demographic and fairly typical.

    But there was a problem. The airwaves belonged to the “public”, and each licensee had to demonstrate its fulfillment of various aspects of its commitment to “public service”. Voila’, the concept of objectivity and neutrality was born, springing fully grown from the brain of network lawyerdom.

    Much like papal infallibility, it was an airtight argument, i.e, the news was presented objectively because that was in the public interest, and the media outlets served the public interest because they presented the news objectively. Something that had never previously existed, media impartiality, was now the bedrock upon which media journalism was based.

    As with any number of other industries, the many slowly concentrated into the few, the few became inordinately powerful, and then a new mode of competition emerged, throwing the complacent “heavyweights” for a loop while they tried desparately to find an appropriate response. Think of the auto, electronics, computer, telephone, home appliance, and many other industries which have gone through this same process.

    The result, in the case of the media, is that a number of their prevailing myths are being exploded, and the boys and girls down in the newsroom are getting testy. First cable, then satellite, and now this damnable computer blog thing. It’s enough to make any self respecting journalist wonder if Roseanne Rosandana was right about life—It’s always somethin’.

  • Re: “(It seems that a BBC man is actually a quite important part of the Eason Jordan story.) ”
    Nik Gowing was rehearsing his “American and Israeli militaries are targeting journalists” story 19 months ago (11 June 2003) to the World Associantion of Newspapers Congress in Dublin as we reported in Lies, Innuendo and Videotape.

  • Re: “(It seems that a BBC man is actually a quite important part of the Eason Jordan story.) ”
    Nik Gowing was rehearsing his “American and Israeli militaries are targeting journalists” story 19 months ago (11 June 2003) to the World Associantion of Newspapers Congress in Dublin as we reported in Lies, Innuendo and Videotape.

  • John J. Coupal

    The concept of “advocacy journalism” in the USA was the goal of the 1960s journalists. Their aim was not merely to report news, but to inform the viewer “what the news really meant”, since the viewer could not competently understand it.

    Journalism had been on a downhill slide, till about 2000.

  • Julian Morrison

    Can’t the military sue? Surely it’s slander to make such a dynamite public accusation without backing it up, and without even an equally public apology.

  • Rob

    Nik Gowing’s “accusations” are a bunch of hypotheses accompanied with a heavy sprinkling of “if”s, “maybe”s and “possibly”s.

    That the US army have killed journalists is an unarguable fact; Gowing’s personal view is that the US army is indifferent towards having done so and he regards this as suspicious behaviour. It doesn’t take more than a few brain cells to realise that this is a matter of opinion.

    That this “scares” journalists is likely true. Would journalists like a higher level of protection from the US army? You bet they would. Some may even feel entitled to it. This, again, is a matter of opinion.

    There is obviously a line to be drawn between military security (reserving the right to kill anyone who gets a bit too close whilst holding a piece of modern technological equipment) and journalistic safety. If the line is drawn too far towards military safety, journalists would be unable to report on military activity due to unacceptable risks of loss of life. If it is drawn too far towards journalistic safety, it would inevitably compromise the military’s safety to an unacceptable level.

    Gowing has his view on where the line currently is, and where it should be. Others have a different view. I’m no expert in the media, but even I can see that.

    I’m not quite sure I understand what the blogosphere is trying to “expose” by talking about this, other than that there are differing opinions. However, the tone of the “Blithering Bunny” piece seemed to go rather further than that, suggesting Gowing should be fired for his opinion.

    I may be wrong, but the between-the-lines narrative I pick up here is that the MSM is unfairly powerful and requires a counter-balance, provided by the blogosphere. However, rather than simply providing balance by providing counter-opinion, the blogosphere has now acquired a self-righteous mission of cleansing the modern information spectrum of views it regards as unacceptable – such as the mere conjecture that the US army (or some individuals within it) might have killed journalists deliberately, or somehow failed to give said journalists clear enough guidance on safety.

    I am entirely in sympathy with the view that the blogosphere should provide counter-opinions to those opinions which it holds to be incorrect. Where I depart is on the notion that it is necessary to silence those incorrect opinions. This view implies that the rest of us are too stupid to see an opinion for what it is – just an opinion – and that we need the blogosphere to rescue us from oppresion under the steel-capped boots of the MSM, not merely by informing us of other opinions, but by silencing the opinions that the blogosphere believes to be wrong.

  • Anointiata Delenda Est

    “If I were them (and I am!) I would say: pick on particular BBC people and particular BBC shows, and take it slowly.

    Well, Samizdata, take it slowly. A slow roast improves the flavour.

    ADE

  • Pete_London

    Rob

    Nik Gowing’s “accusations” are a bunch of hypotheses accompanied with a heavy sprinkling of “if”s, “maybe”s and “possibly”s.

    Rubbish. His view is that the American and Israeli military has targetted journalists deliberately:

    We have a right to be there. But the trouble is that a lot of the military — particularly the American and the Israeli military — do not want us there. And they make it very uncomfortable for us to work. And I think that this — and I am giving you headlines here — is leading to security forces in some instances feeling it is legitimate to target us with deadly force and with impunity.

  • Rob

    OK, let’s take that statement apart.

    “We have a right to be there” – well, as much of a right as anyone else.

    “the military… do not want us there” – quite possibly true. It depends on wherever “there” is, but it seems likely enough that the military would prefer not to have non-embedded journalists reporting in a war zone.

    “they make it very uncomfortable for us to work” – that’s a judgement, very hard or impossible to determine as an objective fact. I can’t say whether it is true or false.

    His final statement is preceded with “I think that”, implying that this is his opinion. Secondly, my reading of the statement is subtly different from yours. He does not baldly say “the Americans are deliberately killing journalists purely because they are journalists”. His implication appears (to me, at least) to be that the “security forces” he refers to simply don’t care if a person is a journalist or not, and err excessively on the side of caution by killing them. This is “legitimate” because the security forces do not recognise the right of the journalists to be there, and thus the “he might have been a terrorist with a rocket launcher” argument acquires more force when it can’t be countered with “yes, but he might have been a journalist with a video camera”.

    This goes back to my earlier point about there being a line between the rights of the military and the rights of journalists. Gowing is someone who believes the line should be drawn further in favour of the journalists. He believes that because of the lack of privilege given to the position of the journalists, a situation has arisen where the security forces feel it’s OK to take the chance of killing a journalist, because the journalists weren’t “supposed” to be there. Therefore it’s the journalists’ fault if they get killed.

    Nik Gowing doesn’t like it, but personally, I don’t actually have a problem with that. Journalists in a war zone should know that they are running significant risks and can’t expect the military to accomodate their every need. However, Nik Gowing (perhaps understandably, since he is a journalist himself) takes a different view. I simply don’t see what is so very wrong with him holding this opinion, or why he should be silenced or fired for holding it. I find the approach of attacking the person directly, rather than attacking the opinion, to be destructive and ultimately counter-productive if one’s intention is a free and open debate in which people are free to hold the opinions they find most acceptable.

  • Pete_London

    Rob

    Why am I reminded of Clinton and the question of what the meaning is ‘is’ ‘is’? Read Gowing’s final sentence again. He states clearly that he thinks the US and Israeli militaries feel it is legitimate to target journalists with deadly force and with impunity. Now I don’t know if he’s right but it’s a grave allegation and one he is obliged to substantiate with hard evidence or withdraw. You see? I’m not attacking the opinion. It may be true, but unless and until he substantiates it, it is legitimate to attack him as the source of the opinion. You seem to confuse free speech with the right to slur others with (so far) baseless allegations.

  • GCooper

    Rob writes:

    ” I simply don’t see what is so very wrong with him holding this opinion, or why he should be silenced or fired for holding it.”

    You’re ignoring the fact that Master Gowing works for the BBC – an organisation which uses stringently enforced taxation to promulgate a particular worldview.

    By all means let him spout his opinions in the pages of the Independent (where they come ready-flagged as polemic) but not on my dime.

    That aside, Pete_London is, of course, correct. Gowing’s assertions are quite clear.

  • Della

    Yet again the loyal blogoshere act as thought police, crushing thought crime and manufacturing consent for censorship and tyrany.

  • The sneering about bloggers has begun on Newsnight and the Daily Politics. (They seem to forget the Beeb employs a blogger called Salam Pax to do reports on Iraq.) Whenever bloggers are mentioned there is a degree of malice and contempt in the voice of whomever delivers the report. I think that Beeb is going to dismiss them for as long as possible.

    I think the back-lash from the MSM is going to backfire badly and make bloggers even more attractive to readers. But then again bad judgement calls is par for the course in the MSM these days is it not?

  • Jacob

    It’s part of a bigger problem.
    Mister Gowing and Mister Jordan seem to have more sympathy for the terrorists than for the USA (or Israeli) army, and are reporting accordingly. It’s the oppresed “insurgents” against the brutal occupiers.
    Therefore, they beleive the army SHOULD shoot them (as enemy propagandists) and therefere they feel sure it does indeed shoot them deliberately.

    Take another incident – the tsunami. Lefties on the internet (I don’t know about the MSM) spread the meme that the US knew in advance about the coming tsunami, and warned it’s base in Diego Garcia, but refrained from warning the Indians or Indonesians or Thais, because they don’t give a damn about such people.

    Two related examples of Leftist dementia. (No milder term fits).

  • Pete_London

    Jacob

    Never fear, the BBC is always on hand to spread ridiculous, left-wing paranoia, even about the tsunami:

    Is America a power for good or ill in the world? Was there a malign hand at work, or has America’s role in the crisis in fact been a model of humanitarian leadership.

    Let us know what you think. Is this just anti-US sentiment on the web or something more worrying?

  • Rob

    Posted by Pete_London:

    He states clearly that he thinks the US and Israeli militaries feel it is legitimate to target journalists with deadly force and with impunity. Now I don’t know if he’s right but it’s a grave allegation and one he is obliged to substantiate with hard evidence or withdraw.

    Now, we already know that the US military has killed journalists and that nobody has been punished for this.

    The question is not “did it happen”, because it clearly did. The question is “why?”. The US army argument is probably that it was simply a mistake – a legitimate enough answer in a war zone. On this basis, it’s nobody’s individual or collective fault, it’s just “one of those things”, fog of war and all that.

    However, Gowing’s argument appears to be that because the US don’t regard the journalists’ being in Iraq as legitimate, they feel that it is the journalists’ fault if any of their number are killed.

    He goes further, to suggest that the US army may even regard the presence of journalists as a military threat. This isn’t entirely unreasonable – the argument is often made that 24/7 news reporting of military activities can indeed undermine these activities. Whether anyone would ever go so far as to kill a journalist in order to prevent him reporting is a question I can’t answer, but I could imagine a situation in which that might happen. Proving it would be another matter entirely though, which is why Gowing never makes a full-blown accusation.

    Posted by GCooper:

    You’re ignoring the fact that Master Gowing works for the BBC – an organisation which uses stringently enforced taxation to promulgate a particular worldview.

    So if he worked for a commercial news station, say, CNN, he could express whatever views he wanted?

  • Ironchef

    We have a right to be there. But the trouble is that a lot of the military — particularly the American and the Israeli military — do not want us there. And they make it very uncomfortable for us to work. And I think that this — and I am giving you headlines here — is leading to security forces in some instances feeling it is legitimate to target us with deadly force and with impunity.

    This is irrefutable proof? Keep grasping.

  • GCooper

    Rob writes:

    “So if he worked for a commercial news station, say, CNN, he could express whatever views he wanted?”

    Subject to the laws of libel and the willingness of his employers to retain him, yes.

    But you’re evading the issue. In this dimension, he works for the BBC and is paid by the Britsh taxpayer. Are you suggesting that is acceptable?

    And is the implication of your argument that journalists should be beyond independent fact checking and analysis?

  • John

    This story is troublesome for the American MSM in many ways, notably that one of the two Congressman that were at the conference and criticized Eason Jordan for his comment was Rep. Barney Frank of Mass. who is both a Dem. and openly gay. The other was another Dem., Sen. Dodd. So, to try to portray this as a right-wing conspiracy, they have to focus on the blogs. That would also apply to the BBC and other European media as well.

    In a different matter, the American MSM looks to have taken it on the chin again today. The D.C. Court of Appeals(Link) upheld a circuit court decision (Link)on whether or not New York Times reporter Judith Miller enjoys a confidentiality privilege.

    This Court holds that Ms. Miller has no privilege, based in the First Amendment or
    common law, qualified or otherwise, excusing her from testifying before the grand jury in this
    matter. Therefore, under the holding in Branzburg and its progeny, Ms. Miller must fulfill her
    obligation, shared by all citizens, to answer a valid subpoena issued to her by a grand jury acting
    in good faith. An appropriate order will accompany this opinion

    .

    It will be interesting see how much coverage this story gets.

  • Stehpinkeln

    Two small points.
    First, as a public (Tax payer funded) Media outlet, the BBC is perhaps more vulnerable then most. I’m sure Murddoc (among many) would love to buy the BBC. So if it reaches the point where the UK government thinks it needs a few billion pounds (Tony’s boys grubbing for money! Perish the thought!) more then it needs a state run propaganda outlet, the BBC is history.
    Second, the MSM has proven that it will not ever police itself. Here in the States, that somewhat silly idea has lingered on it’s deathbed way too long. Bloggers have a natural position as watchdogs over the MSM. For Now. Technology will change that.
    When some teenager can earn the down payment on a new Toyota by sticking his cell phone on top of the wall he is hiding behind so some blogger can have a live feed of a shoot out between the holy warriers of the Jihad Revolutionary front for the Liberation of South Bungholastan and the Defenders of the True Faith, then who Needs a MSM? The Tech isn’t quite there yet. 5 years tops.
    Besides, the purpose of a free press is NOT ‘speaking truth to power’ but providing facts to voters. If power needs a dressing down, the Citizens can do that.

    “One of the strangest consequences of the development of Internet was the reimposition of the need for each individual to learn things for themselves. It is a task most would gladly do without, but it is the burden of sentience and the price of freedom.”
    -Wretcherd

  • baltik

    There are a lot of people with journalistic experience of Iraq who belive the American military targetted journalists.

    You are going to have to go for the whole of the Newsnight team for a start. And Al Jazeera – which is made up of former BBC journalists with friends in that organisation still. Watch the documentary on Al Jazeera called Control Room and you’ll realise how much sympathy the death of their Baghdad correspondent under suspicious circumstances received throughout the news media. If you can’t see that then read this
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/events/newsnight/1724279.stm .

    Beginning section and end section are the most pertinent.

    This deserves exploration before being dismissed out of hand. There are a lot of extremely experienced war reporters coming back from Iraq with the same feelings and how exactly do you prove you were targetted in the heat of conflict? Until then, I’m with Rob on this one.

    I find the approach of attacking the person directly, rather than attacking the opinion, to be destructive and ultimately counter-productive if one’s intention is a free and open debate in which people are free to hold the opinions they find most acceptable.

    Incidentally, you thought that should the blogosphere in the UK reach the same the critical mass as the US, maybe it won’t speak from the same part of the political spectrum.

  • Stehpinkeln

    Maybe 3 points. Technically, the US military DOES target Journalists. It doesn’t know they are Journalists when it targets them. Does that count? A vido cam doesn’t look all that different from the guidence and control unit of an ATGM. To the TC who spots one thru a not very good sighting system, the is no big desire to take chances. You shoot first and figure out later if that collection of body parts used to be a guerrilla with an ATGM or a TV camaraman. Same for a guy with a pair of binoculars on a rooftop. Is he a reporter or an artillery spotter? Kill him and let graves registration figure it out.
    IIRC, GC IV reguires that ALL journalists register with one of the combatant powers and get an ID card. The word used for journalists that aren’t carrying the proper ID card is SPY. No rules of war protect spys. You can do anything you want with them.

  • GCooper

    baltik writes:

    “There are a lot of people with journalistic experience of Iraq who belive the American military targetted journalists.”

    Given the almost entirely biased nature of the reporting that has taken place in Iraq, what are we meant to infer from this, other than that this latest outburst of bleating is just more of the same?

    “You are going to have to go for the whole of the Newsnight team for a start.”

    Golly! The Newsnight team. That’s telling us.

    And finally;

    “Incidentally, you thought that should the blogosphere in the UK reach the same the critical mass as the US, maybe it won’t speak from the same part of the political spectrum.”

    Which part of the political spectrum it comes from doesn’t matter a damn. What matters is that lies, distortions, half-truths and the finely wrought prejudices of “the whole of the Newsnight team” et al are exposed to rigorous scrutiny.

    Just what is the problem with that notion?

  • john

    Speaking from a purely British point of view, I cannot help being envious of the intellectual firepower, time and effort, above all the weight of quality numbers, that the US blogosphere can now bring to bear on whichever MSM foolishness they decide to focus on, the way they have lately been focussing on the Eason Jordan story. The British blogosphere just does not have anything like a similar presence, yet.

    I posted above about the Judith Miller decision, the Court of Appeals (Link)decision is now online and blogging is brought up by the Court:

    408 U.S. at 704. The Supreme Court went on to observe that “freedom of the press is a ‘fundamental personal right . . . not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets . . . . The press in its historic connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.’”….Perhaps more to the point today, does the privilege also protect the proprietor of a web log: the stereotypical “blogger” sitting in his pajamas at his personal computer posting on the World Wide Web his best product to inform whoever happens to browse his way? If not, why not? How could one draw a distinction consistent with the court’s vision of a broadly granted personal right? If so, then would it not be possible for a government official wishing to engage in the sort of unlawful leaking under investigation in the present controversy to call a trusted friend or a political ally, advise him to set up a web log (which I understand takes about three minutes) and then leak to him under a promise of confidentiality the information which the law forbids the official to disclose?

    I’d say the Blogosphere’s influence in the U.S. is having some unforseen and positive impact. This, of course, is Federal Law.

  • Jacob

    Rob:
    “Whether anyone would ever go so far as to kill a journalist in order to prevent him reporting is a question I can’t answer, but I could imagine a situation in which that might happen. ”

    Sure. I too could imagine this. For example – in the (defunct) Soviet Union you could surely get shot for trying to intrude and report something they forbid. The “insurgents” in Iraq or Paqistan also kill journalists (Daniel Pearl…) – whether in order to prevent them reporting or for other reasons.

    That you could imagine American soldiers DELIBERATELY (as opposed to accidentally) killing journalists to stop them from reporting – shows you suffer from the above mentioned leftie dementia. Like the Bush=Hitler crowd.

    By the way, if American soldiers did target journalists you’d get much more that one or two casualties…

  • Stehpinkeln

    What I’m curious about is the number of journalists that were killed while embedded. Since that is the process used by the US military, by logic any journalist that isn’t embedded is a spy. The other side isn’t a soverign power and therefore cannot authorize journalists. So by the provisions of the 4th GC, legitimte journalists are embedded with the US Military.
    That’s worth repeating, any journalist on the battlefield must be embedded. The others are spys claiming to be journalists. So for the Newsnight crew to be making thir claims, they must be referring to embedded journalists. Either that or they are rejecting the provisions of the 4th Geneva Convention on Land Warfare. If they are rejecting that set of rules, Why do they expect anyone else to follow them?
    If the Newsnight crew wants to go onto a battlefield an operate as spys, they need to be ready to face the results of their decision.

  • Shawn

    I’m still trying to work out exactly why shooting left wing and anti-American propagandists, sorry, ahem, “journalists”, would be a bad thing.

    If you support the enemy, and most of the BBC do, then you should share their fate.

  • Johnathan

    Shawn, as someone who has lost colleagues in the Middle East due to the “friendly fire” from Coalition forces, I find your comments decidedly off-base. So what are you saying, that the BBC, CNN and anyone else not convinced of the wisdom of Bushie foreign policy gets shot? Are you channelling Ann Coulter?

    No wonder the United States has an image problem, and I write this as a supporter of the recent war.

  • willc2

    Johnathan, you seem to believe a soldier under fire can tell who a reporter is.

    How can someone in a firefight know a man is NOT the enemy unless he is 1) on their side of the battle – embedded– or 2) wearing the same uniform?

    If a soldier can not easily tell someone is a friendly or a neutral (in a firefight), prudence suggests he shoot him. That’s not how the police work, but that IS how wars are fought.

    Do you have some OTHER practical manner to keep some of your colleagues alive or are you just taking a cheap shot.

    You can skip the hand-wringing over callous remarks on a blog forum.

    I believe you could do this discussion a real service by revealing your ideas and explaining your line of reasoning.

  • GCooper

    Amazing, isn’t it, how none of the Leftist supporters of these polemical hacks has come back to us, explaining what it is wrong with public scrutiny of their work for accuracy and fairness?

    One can only conclude that their silence means they can’t even raise the ghost of a defence.

  • Johnathan

    WillC, please actually read a comment before replying to it. I am not saying that those journalists were deliberately targeted. I was responding to a particularly nasty argument by Shawn, who seemed to argue that news organisations like the BBC deserved to have their reporters killed, which is a disgusting argument. I pointed out that as someone who has in the past worked in the media and lost colleagues, I found his arguments grotesque.

    Like I said before, even supporters of the war to depose Saddam like me need to be honest about the errors and problems that have cropped up. That doesn’t mean we agree with jerks like Jordan.

  • Johnathan

    WilC, another thing, I did not think that expressing disgust over a remark in favour of killing politically biased journalists was “hand-wringing”.

  • ATM

    Let’s not forget that people posing as journalists and camera men have been used as suicide bombers. The Afghan Northern Alliance commander Massoud was killed by a suicide bomber camera man just before 9/11. I’d be wary of any unknown reporters coming near me in a warzone, knowing that al Qaeda has used this tactic before.

  • Rob

    Amazing, isn’t it, how none of the Leftist supporters of these polemical hacks has come back to us, explaining what it is wrong with public scrutiny of their work for accuracy and fairness?

    Scrutiny for accuracy and fairness is fine. Scrutiny for “leftishness” isn’t.

    Given that people from both side of the debate have concluded that the military will inevitably kill journalists, there remains only the question over how this can be prevented. Some blame the US army’s policy, regarding them as culpable for the deaths of journalists. Others say it’s the fault of the journalists. Both views are opinions, and both are legitimate. It’s up to individuals to decide which they agree with, not for the side which shouts loudest to try to get their opponents silienced or fired from their jobs.

  • Shawn

    Johnathan.

    If, during WW2, a British citizen was discovered writing propaganda for the Nazi’s, exactly what do you think that persons fate would have been?

    I am not talking about journalists or media organs that simply take a different view on US foriegn policy or the war, I’m talking about consistent, long term, deliberate, and often false pro-Arab and pro-Islamic propaganda, propaganda that gives ideological support to the enemy, propaganda that could very well result in more terrorism against civilians in the West or in Israel. That and not news reporting, is what the BBC engages in.

    So as far as I’m concerned they have made their bed, they can lie in it. Permanently.

  • Shawn

    I should have been clear that I do not mean the BBC exclusively, but other elements of the MSM as well.

  • Shawn

    “Are you channelling Ann Coulter?”

    Have you seen those legs?

    I should be so lucky.

  • GCooper

    Rob writes:

    “Scrutiny for accuracy and fairness is fine. Scrutiny for “leftishness” isn’t.”

    Why?

    And why isn’t “leftishness” (very often) incompatible with accuracy and fairness in your eyes?

  • Jacob

    Rob,
    “…the military will inevitably kill journalists, there remains only the question over how this can be prevented…”

    You try to be sleek.
    You try to fudge the difference between journalists being killed accidentaly while they stray into a battlefield cross fire and journalists being deliberately targeted by American soldiers (as some jerks claim, which was the subject of this debate).

    This is dishonest and malicious on your part.

    “…the military will inevitably kill journalists” ???

    No, the military wil NOT inevitably kill journalists; but journalist (or any other person) who gets too close to a battlefield may be hit by fire from one side or the other.

    To conclude from the fact that journalists were hit, that they were hit deliberately is worse that unwarranted, it’s insane.

  • Pete_London

    Shawn

    Absolutely. The BBC long ago moved from slant and bias to giving succour and encouragement to whoever our forces are engaged with. The BBC famously employed the terms ‘the British’ and ‘the Argentinians’ in a blanket fashion during the Falklands War in 1982. This supposed impartiality culminated in a broadcast which quoted a British Forces spokesman with the caveat “if they are to be believed.” During the campaign in Iraq the Royal Navy turned off all BBC broadcasts following complaints from the crew of HMS Ark Royal.

    Just my theory, but the media discovered its power and ability to influence during Vietnam. They have never forgotten the lesson and have used it expecially whilst our troops have been in Iraq to encourage and galvanise terrorists (whoops! insurgents) whilst grinding down support for any such action at home. Lord Haw Haw got what he deserved in a German forest following the end of the war, unfortuntely we have become a softer, less robust people.

  • Pete_London

    Shawn

    Ann Coulter.

    Get in the queue.

  • Johnathan

    Shawn, sorry mate, but your argument still doesn’t really cut it. I loathe the Fisks, Hershes and all the other dishonest chroniclers of our world as much, or probably even more, than you do. God knows I laughed when that idiot Fisk was proven wrong again and again, and laughed even more the day after the US elections at the thought of Michael Moore and sundry other Bush-haters getting the vapors. But to say these guys should be killed is crossing a line.

  • Ron

    [Pete_London at February 17, 2005 01:52 AM]

    Don’t forget the BBC World Service actually transmitted news reports giving away the real-time positions and activities of British forces in the Falklands…so that all the Argentinian air force had to do was turn up and shoot.

  • Trent Telenko

    >Shawn, sorry mate, but your argument still doesn’t
    >really cut it.
    >
    >But to say these guys should be killed is crossing a
    >line.

    Johnathan,

    No, it isn’t.

    I wrote the following at Winds of Change when an American tank crew killed Mazen Dana, a Reuters photo journalist, in 2003

    http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/003932.php(Link)

    “It has been well known since 1982 that electronic news gathering equipment looks like a rocket propelled grenade launcher through military gun sights. This was demonstrated when a CBS news crew set up to cover an Israeli column advancing towards Beruit in an orchard after the Israeli column had been ambushed a number of times by PLO RPG crews.

    The CBS crew was turned to raw hamburger by Israeli firepower as soon as the Israelis came in range.

    There was a big stink by the international journalistic community until the Israelis produced a side by side picture of a news crew with a camera and an RPG crew through an Israeli tank sight. After that you saw a lot of long range telephoto pictures of Israeli troops.

    Most of the “combat junkie” international journalists of the current generation are used to being near third world fighting. The combatants being covered have little or no training, are often high on drugs and lack modern fire control on their weapons. The reporters can often bluff or bribe their way through these 3rd worlders to get the shots and quotes they need for the evening news.

    American soldiers on the other hand are well trained, stone sober and have the latest fire control on their weapons. They are also well disciplined and trained to deal with reporters as a matter of course down to the junior officer level and cannot be bribed. Those American troops that forget their training are dealt with by the American chain of command so reporters as a whole are given very little or nothing to work with.

    What these reporters refuse to take seriously is that their only protection from American firepower on a modern battlefield is to be part of an American embedded reporter program. Editors who came up through the same 3rd world battlefields of the 1980′s and 1990′s as their current news crews just cannot understand the orders of magnitude difference in killing power between western troops and 3rd worlders when the former are fighting with serious intent.

    Americans in Iraq are not Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza. The Americans are out to kill terrorists and anyone that looks like an armed terrorist in their line of sight is going to die. And Al-Qaeda terrorists like to look like reporters to get close to their targets. Massoud, “the Lion of the Panshir,” found that out in the days before 9/11/2001.

    The penalty for stupidity on the modern battlefield in range of American troops is death. The only reason not to nominate Mazen Dana for the Darwin Awards is that he had four kids before he was killed. Any news organization that puts its reporters with camera’s near American troops in combat outside of the embed program should be sued by the relatives of the dead cameramen for criminal negligence.”

    UPDATE #1:

    Go to this link http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2003_08_17_aebrain_archive.html#106130093033386486(Link) and see an animation that shows modern news gathering equipment nose on compared to modern anti-tank missile launchers. This is via the A.E.Brain blog.

    To quote one of our commentors:

    “…the No. 1 rule of engagement for covering conflicts involving American forces is quite simple. Don’t Point Things At American Forces In Combat Areas.”

  • willc2

    I called Johnathan’s remarks “hand-wringing” because of his overblown style of complaint.

    see the definition of hand-wringing http://www.bartleby.com/61/76/H0047600.html

    “…BBC, CNN and anyone else not convinced of the wisdom of Bushie foreign policy gets shot?”

    and

    “Are you channelling Ann Coulter?”

    These seem like an unserious, rhetorical set of questions and not like points in a reasoned argument meant to pursuade.

    If Johnathan was really trying to address the issue — the impracticality of distinguishing non-combatant reporters on a battlefield — surely he would either mention some way that his friends lives might have been saved or at least acknowledged that this is not a problem that is easy to solve.

    Instead there are only cheap shots at commenters and politicians he doesn’t like.