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.
“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.