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Did Jordan plagiarize Gowing at Davos?


Consider these comments made by a prominent figure in the mainstream media:

I speak for a large number of news organizations, many of whom are not really talking publicly about this at the moment. But you have to understand that my colleagues in the field have every right to be there [in Iraq], whatever the risks. The proliferation of images which I am going to explain to you emerge in the most instantaneous real time, often before the official machinery of government, or the military structure, even knows anything has happened. This creates what I have described as this fundamental and ominous new tension.

What that reveals often leaves our democratically elected governments and leadership under challenge, and often reeling …. We have a right to be there. But the trouble is that a lot of the military—particularly the American … military—do not want us there. And they make it very uncomfortable for us to work. And I think that this … is leading to security forces in some instances feeling it is legitimate to target us with deadly force and with impunity.

We heard that figure of 12 journalists shot dead [in Iraq]. I don’t know if that is the latest or if it is accurate, but it is about the right figure at the moment. What has happened—particularly the targeting of journalists—has occurred despite the Geneva Convention and the laws of armed conflict. And I think we have to underline that we have deep concerns, particularly regarding the American … attitude to this. I am not taking sides here but I am telling you the way it is for many of my colleagues. And not just my … colleagues but international colleagues and particularly colleagues in journalism who are doing great work in a place like Iraq from the Arab world as well. And we are facing a failure to investigate and bring to justice.

The missing transcript of Eason Jordan's remarks at Davos?

No, they're the comments of BBC World news anchor Nik Gowing in a lecture at the London School of Economics (pictured above), given on May 21, 2004.

But they could have been Jordan's, at least based on the three eyewitness accounts from Davos published prior to the Easongate controversy.

Rony Abovitz:

During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted.

Justin Vaisse:

[Jordan] said that outside of deaths attributed to rebels, 12 journalists, including Americans, were killed by the American army, not by deliberate attack, but in the context of a hostile climate towards the press.

[Il a dit que, en-dehors du massacre perpétré par les rebelles, 12 journalistes, y compris américains, avaient été tués par l'armée américaine, non pas dans des "attaques délibérées", mais bon, disons, dans un climat d'hostilité vis-à-vis de la presse.]

Bernard Rappaz:

Eason Jordan … recalled that out of the 45 journalists killed in Iraq since the beginning of bombat, 12 were killed by American troops. He added: "No investigation has been opened by the Pentagon into these blunders. In Iraq, journalists are now targeted by insurgents and ... by occupation forces."

[Eason Jordan … a rappelé que sur les 45 journalistes tués en Irak depuis le début des combats, 12 ont été abattu par les troupes américaines. Et d'ajouter: "Aucune enquête n'a été ouverte par le Pentagon sur ces bavures. En Irak les journalistes sont désormais des cibles à abattre par la guérilla et … par les forces d'occupation."]

How Jordan arrived at "that figure" of 12 journalists has been the subject of considerable speculation. Captain's Quarters cites the very extensive research of Blanknoone in the archives of Reporters sans frontieres.

Blanknoone concludes:

Eason Jordan said 12 dead journalists had been "targeted" by the US military. I tried to find them. With the widest possible definition of "suspicious" I came up with a list that happened to be 13.

So, how did Jordan arrive at his total of 12?

The simplest explanation is that he simply cribbed the number from Gowing's LSE lecture, without even bothering to verify or update it.*

In fact, it's entirely possible that Jordan may have lifted whole sections from Gowing's lecture for his own panel remarks, with or without Gowing's permission. (This account places Gowing at Davos last month, doing his usual America-bashing. Whether he was in the room when Jordan spoke I can't yet determine.)

To the list of charges being compiled in the blogosphere against Eason Jordan we may need to add one more: plagiarism.

* Actually, the 12-journalists-killed figure isn't Gowing's either, though he endorses it in his remarks. It's taken from a protest statement read in advance of Gowing's lecture on behalf of the LSE Staff Against the War Group and the LSE Stop the War Coalition. (The groups weren't protesting Gowing's appearance but that of Simon Haselock of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, who spoke after Gowing on the program.) "Since last years’ invasion," the statement reads, "a dozen journalists have been killed by U.S. forces." Although no actual proof is given for the claim, it would seem to be based on this May 7, 2004 press release issued by Reporters sans frontieres: "Twelve journalists and media assistants have been killed since 1st January 2004, ten Iraqis and two foreigners." The post-invasion total cited by RSF at the time was actually 25; the RSF made no estimate of how many of either number were killed by U.S. or coalition forces. Sifting through these documents, you get the sense that somebody just saw the number 12 and said, "12 … that sounds like a good number. Yeah, 12, that's the ticket."

Posted by Rodger on February 10, 2005 at 01:04 AM | Permalink


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