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Smart mobs or lynch mobs?


At first, they said it wasn't really news.

Now—just as Jim Geraghty promised—they're saying the real issue wasn't Eason Jordan's perfidy, it was the digital "lynch mob" that took him down.

Steve Lovelady, weblog editor of the Columbia Journalism Review—the same distinguished journal that last month published Corey Pein's blame-the-bloggers hit piece on Memogate—tries to play Zola to Jordan's Captain Dreyfus:

The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail. (Where is Jimmy Stewart when we need him?) This convinces me more than ever that Eason Jordan is guilty of one thing, and one thing only—caring for the reporters he sent into battle, and haunted by the fact that not all of them came back. Like Gulliver, he was consumed by Lilliputians.

Spare me the melodrama, Steve. Worrying about journalist safety is probably one of the few things Jordan couldn't be accused of, as the Baron perceptively noted. When he was warned by the Pentagon that his plans for reporting the Clinton administration's invasion of Haiti in 1994, he said: “We understand the concerns of the US military, but we will put our people where we want to put them.'’ (And if any of them had been killed or injured, whom do you suspect CNN would have blamed?)

But, no, Jordan was just looking out for fellow journalists in Iraq. Or maybe he was courageously speaking truth to power. Bertrand Pecquerie writing on the at World Editors Forum blog:

Sad conclusion in the Eason Jordan affair …  sad day for the freedom of expression in America and sad day again for the future of blogging: the defense of the US army honor seemed more important to some bloggers than the defense of reporters' work (and sometimes life)! Nevertheless, there is one advantage in this story: masks are fallen! Within the honest community of bloggers, some of them claimed to be the "sons of the First Amendment", they just were the sons of Senator McCarthy. And this is very worrying to see this new wedding between self-proclaimed citizen's media and maintstream journalists scalps' hunters. Fifty years ago, it was enough to be communist to be fired, today, it is enough to raise questions about the Bush administration policy in Iraq to be denounced as "anti-American". Maybe the only difference is that you are not fired, but that you must dismiss! What's my conclusion? Real promoters of citizen media would have to take some distance with those who have fueled and organised the Eason Jordan hatred. If not, the "new era of journalism" opened by the blogosphere will appear as the old clothes of American populism.

What Sad Sack fails to point out, of course, is that bloggers were, and still are, demanding the tape and the truth, not Jordan's scalp. If Jordan believed that he had simply been misunderstood, he could have demanded that the Forum release the tape and allow it vindicate him. If he believed his charges were valid, he could have produced evidence to back them up. But he elected to do neither. His resignation, therefore, was his own choice, and damns him far more than anything written on any blog.

Readers of This isn't writing, it's typing will recall that more than a week ago I predicted a backlash against the Easongate bloggers. Ironically, I think most of the people most closely involved with moving the story forward—despite a preponderance of quite damning evidence—were more than willing to accept whatever verdict the video would have produced. And that group included some of the most committed Bolsheviks in the blogosphere, chief among them Comrade Hewitt.

Hewitt (speaking to Larry Kudlow on "Kudlow & Kramer"):

I'm willing to withhold judgment, as many of the blogger are, until we see the tape. But that means Eason Jordan should be out there demanding its being released. The fact that he isn't is a pretty good indictment of his fear over what he actually said.

"Willing to withhold judgment" isn't a phrase you typically hear coming from a member of a lynch mob.

But there would seem to be more than a few in the MSM willing to string up the bloggers for a crime they never committed.

Posted by Rodger on February 13, 2005 at 11:02 PM | Permalink


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