Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Eason Jordan's mistake.

As part of my dubious practice of promoting contentious comments to articles, I bring you this remark on what was to be my last post about Eason Jordan:
McCarthyism?? [...] BTW McCarthy was basically CORRECT in his assertions and is backed up by recently released KGB documents.

Jordan's "mistake" was not merely a mistake it was part of a pattern.
I didn't call this mess McCarthyism, someone else did. I quoted that someone else, taking care to distance myself from the remarks by saying, "more severe than my opinion is this."

Alert readers may wonder why I linked to it at all when I didn't completely agree with it, and I also didn't argue against it. The answer is, I found it to be an interesting perspective, and I still do. Consider the outrages we're seeing here.Criticize the military, and you're in for it. Journalists are another story. Is military honor worth more than media lives?

Since I didn't say "McCarthyism" myself, I don't feel compelled to answer what the commenter says about McCarthy, but I did spend a little time looking into it. I found a defense of Joe McCarthy which contains this quote:
Just how many did McCarthy catch? Darn few. Of the 10,000 government employees who were exposed as Communists, security risks, or of questionable loyalty and lost their jobs, at the least, only forty can be attributed to McCarthy.

Any of the major players? None, as most had either been moved laterally by Truman or snared by the FBI.
McCarthy's defense here seems to be that there really was a problem, according to documents found after the fall of the Soviet Union, and intelligence intercepts, not that McCarthy did a good job solving it.

It may be unfair to say McCarthy was on a witch hunt because witches don't exist, but there really were communists. On the other hand, I cannot condone the means used to achieve the end.

The poster also asserts (with a link to Hugh Hewitt) that Jordan's comments at Davos were part of a pattern. That article links to an article with this quote:
"Actions speak louder than words. The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the US military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by US forces," Mr Jordan told an audience of news executives at the News Xchange conference in Portugal.
Later in the article, Jordan names a journalist who was arrested and held with no reason given. Looking through "Eason Jordan and the names of 12 journalists 'deliberately targeted' by US troops" (which I linked to earlier), I find this story in which a group of reporters are arrested and mistreated by US military. So here we have other reports of US troops doing just the things Jordan said they did.

Back to Hugh Hewitt:
Every single commentary on the matter that does not bring up the first slander is either incompetently assembled or ideologicially blinkered.
I'm not a lawyer, but this says "defamation" is "spoken or written words that falsely and negatively reflect on a living person's reputation" and slander is "spoken defamation." As previously discussed, I don't think that what Eason Jordan said was false, and therefore it's not slander (or defamation).

(Is accusing someone of slander, in print, considered libel?)

So what's the pattern? Making this claim in front of an audience? More to the point, how could I think he made a mistake when he did it twice? If you think the "mistake" offered as Jordan's defense is "claiming the military did something they didn't," then, yes, the fact that he's done it twice negates that defense (though I would be ashamed to admit how many times I've locked my keys in my car, always claiming it was a mistake).

The mistake I think Jordan made was making his remarks unclear. People heard what he said, and I think they thought he said something other than what he actually meant. As I said in my previous "final" post about this, perhaps this mistake is still grounds for putting Jordan's head on a pike. I don't think so, but, this blog aside, journalism is not my profession.

Some have said that it's irresponsible for Jordan to have made the remarks he did in front of a foreign audience because it reinforces anti-American sentiment. That's a valid point, but being a "full disclosure" kind of guy, I think that hiding our follies compounds them.

Hugh Hewitt's final comment is the best part. I've been saving it.
Even at this late hour, it would be useful if commentators on the controversy became familiar with its basic facts.
Why do I not see Hugh Hewitt talking about soldiers mistaking reporters for terrorists? It's probably because I don't read Hugh Hewitt, but I also wonder if he's "ideologically blinkered."
Post a Comment