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Indiscriminate fire


John Kerry's unofficial website, The Boston Globe, has chosen—belatedly, timidly and unadvisedly—to wade into the Easongate fray (like The Washington Post, in its entertainment section):

Two weeks ago at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, CNN's chief news executive, Eason Jordan, raised eyebrows when he suggested that some of the 63 journalists who have been killed in Iraq had been targeted by US troops. Although Jordan quickly tempered the remarks, a controversy has been building over them on the web. CNN has responded, issuing a statement clarifying Jordan's comments.

Jordan made his remarks at a panel discussion on Jan. 27 in Davos about the media and democracy. Several sources, including the author of a weblog written at the event, said Jordan quickly amended his comments. Since then, the web has been abuzz with commentary about Jordan's statement and his intentions. CNN's statement says Jordan ''was not clear enough in explaining his assertion."

''While the majority of the 63 journalists killed in Iraq have been killed by insurgents, the Pentagon has acknowledged that the US military on occasion has killed people who turned out to be journalists," the CNN statement said. ''Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the US military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of 'mistaken identity.' " A CNN spokeswoman, Christa Robinson, added that ''Eason clarified his position during the panel."

Still, a statement released yesterday by a spokesman for Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, said the senator, who was in the audience for the discussion, was ''outraged by the comments."

Representative Barney Frank, who was on the panel, told The Boston Globe yesterday that attendees ''perked up" after Jordan made remarks that ''sounded like accusing the military of deliberate targeting." Frank said Jordan then backed off a bit, saying he wasn't indicating that such targeting represented US military policy.

The discussion moderator, David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said yesterday that Jordan seemed ''deeply concerned about the dangers to his own team" in Iraq.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization based in New York, says nine journalists and at least two media support workers have been killed by fire from US forces in Iraq, according to the organization's Middle East program coordinator, Joel Campagna. Campagna said that the group has not concluded that any deaths resulted from deliberate targeting of journalists but that some cases raised issues of ''fire discipline and indiscriminate fire."

CNN, of course, issued its "clarification" on February 3. That was five days ago. And the network didn't issue it on one of its broadcasts or on its website (or even in a press release) but in an unsolicited email to various bloggers who had mentioned Easongate.

But better late—with half the story—than never for the Globe.

Still, the muddled account leaves some huge issues dangling.

For example, if Jordan didn't actually say the U.S. military was targeting journalists, then what did Messrs. Dodd and Frank get so fussed up about?

If Jordan clarified his comments during the panel discussion, then why have he and CNN felt the need to issue four subsequent clarifications?

And if Mr. Campagna wants to turn this into an issue about "fire discipline and indiscriminate fire," well then, I say: Bring it.

Because the only indiscriminate fire I see is what's been coming from Mr. Jordan's mouth.

UPDATE: No wonder the Globe loves Eason Jordan. He's as big a flip-flopper as John Kerry! He said it before he didn't say it—and now he's saying it again. Michelle Malkin has a detailed rebuttal of his latest allegations.

Posted by Rodger on February 8, 2005 at 09:41 AM | Permalink


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