WHERE'S THE TAPE? Media Log has withheld fire on the latest controversy involving CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan for a simple reason: we still don't know exactly what he said. But with the Internet swirling with indignation over reports that Jordan accused US troops of deliberately firing on journalists, it's time to ask an equally simple question: where is the tape?
Here's what we know. On January 27, at the economic summit in Davos, Switzerland, Jordan said something during a panel discussion that set off a firestorm. Mark Jurkowitz, in the Boston Globe, and Howard Kurtz, in the Washington Post, brought matters up to date yesterday. It should be noted that Kurtz is also an employee of CNN. And if you want to keep going with the disclosures, I am a very occasional unpaid guest on Kurtz's CNN show, Reliable Sources.
Jordan told Kurtz:
I was trying to make a distinction between "collateral damage" and people who got killed in other ways. I have never once in my life thought anyone from the US military tried to kill a journalist. Never meant to suggest that. Obviously I wasn't as clear as I should have been on that panel.
Kurtz adds: "No transcript exists of the Jan. 27 session, which was supposed to be off the record, and a videotape of the event has not been made public."
Let's see the tape!
What's disturbing about this is that two members of Congress who were on hand when Jordan made his remarks - Representative Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd - clearly believed that Jordan had accused American soldiers of targeting reporters. Read their comments. They come across as barely mollified by Jordan's efforts to undo the damage.
Conservatives, as you can imagine, have been going berserk. And in this case, why shouldn't they? (And why shouldn't liberals - and not just Frank and Dodd.) I'm not going to try to track it all down, but here's a sample from last week, from National Review Online.
Nearly two years ago, Media Log went after Jordan for a New York Times op-ed piece in which he confessed that CNN had covered up some of the worst of Saddam Hussein's crimes for years, in part to protect CNN employees, in part to maintain access. But that time, at least, we knew exactly what he'd said.
What Jordan said in Davos has become a big enough story about an important enough institution that it's time for all of us to have a chance to judge for ourselves.
Finally, Jay Rosen has been right on top of this. This post is invaluable. Be sure to read the "After Matters" addendum. Michelle Malkin interviews Barney Frank. How odd is that?
MORE THAN YOU WANT TO KNOW. I want to link to this Slate piece before it slips off the home page. Audiophile Evan Cornog has something to tell you that you may not have realized - your iPod sucks - as well as some not-so-comforting advice: there's nothing wrong with it that $1200 worth of accessories won't fix.
You'll feel better if you read the feedback at the bottom of the article. In any case, Media Log's middle-age ears are perfectly happy with regular MP3 and AAC files and standard-issue Apple earbuds.