The Warrior Scholar

This is a blog about current events - a way to provide a constructive outlet for some of the thoughts I have on the issues of the day. It's also a way to generate some discussion and to get my ideas out into the world. Enjoy!

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

I'm a doctoral candidate in Virginia, with a love of history and politics. My dog is a great companion, and my family always keeps me in good spirits.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Easton Jordan and professionalism in journalism

I have been up to my eardrums in writing lately, so I haven't kept up to date too much on my blog. However, the whole Easton Jordan issue troubles me. That the head of the formerly "most trusted name in news" can continue to destroy CNN's credibility is astonishing.

I wrote the following to Rantingprofs in response to her concerns about Jordan resigning...

"I think this is a case of "speaking truth to power" - the power of the unelected Forth Estate - i.e. CNN. If someone is in a business for 23 years, and resigns before the evidence is publicly revealed, then actions definitely speak louder than the (unreleased) words. While one might complain that the evidence has not been made public (therefore leading to the blog-lynch mob defense), Jordan acted like there was a need for a cover-up. In a business where your credibility is based on the perception of being trustworthy, then this behavior is just simply unacceptable.

Jordan damaged both his credibility, and CNN's credibly by admitting that his network collaborated with Saddam's regime and hid its murderous activities for the sake of access for a dozen years. Then, Jordan again damaged his personal and professional credibility by making unsubstantiated claims as to what the US military was doing in Iraq. If the US military was deliberately targeting journalists, than that should have been revealed and publicized. Last time I looked, by Jordan’s assertion, the insurgents killed at least 48 journalists, and the coalition killed at most 12. And the story is...the US killing journalists, or the insurgents deliberately targeting journalists? Jordan implied, if not asserted, that it is US policy to target journalists, and not that the journalist’s deaths were mistakes in the heat of battle. If the killing of journalists was a Coalition policy decision, then how many journalists have been killed or kidnapped by US forces while embedded with them? If Jordan has these facts, then he should have presented them. There is no need for him to back up, no need to clarify. He was supposed to run a news organization, and should have had those facts available. It is clear that the targeting of journalists is not a policy of the Coalition forces. If it was, then they are incompetent for having let so many journalists live.

Jordan had to resign for making CNN untrustworthy. The fact that the mainstream media did not police its own is another story in itself. I was at a media panel a couple weeks ago and posed the question about the ethics of CNN and its Iraq cover-up (this was pre-Davos remarks), and the journalists on the panel were unanimous that CNN under Jordan significantly damaged the whole of the journalistic profession’s credibility. I couldn’t agree more. That the blogophere exercised its First Amendment rights to expose the misdeeds of a powerful shaper of public opinion should not be a cause of concern, but a powerful statement that the standards for responsible reporting must be upheld."

I hope that this encourages the media to report in a more "fair and balanced" manner - I don't want it to be liberal or conservative, right-wing or left-wing. I want journalists to write the truth so the American people can be an informed electorate so they can make decisions for themselves.