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Posted by on Feb 3, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

CNN Executive Claims U.S. Military Targeted Journalists

CNN’S Chief News Executive has used his mouth to dig himself into a Grand Canyon like pit of a controversy — where demands are being made for him to put up proof, or to shut up.

Indeed, the allegations he makes are so grave that it seems unlikely this story will die away until either he produces more proof or CNN has to eat political crow and do some damage control. So it seems like this may be just the beginning of this flap. The Washington Times writes in an editorial:

In war, mistakes happen and innocents are often killed. For journalists covering the action, the risk is extremely high. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 36 were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2004, some unfortunately as a result of U.S. fire. But were any of these journalists targeted for death, as CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan recently suggested?

    At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during a discussion on media and democracy, Mr. Jordan apparently told the audience that "he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted," according to a report on the forum’s Web site (www.forumblog.org). The account was corroborated by the Wall Street Journal and National Review Online, although no transcript of the discussion has surfaced. Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Christopher Dodd were also present, but calls to their offices were not returned in time for publication.

As in other controversies, it’s best to exercise a bit of RESTRAINT until you learn the actual facts. Are these reports correct? We still don’t know for sure. Yes, the Wall Street Journal and the National Review Online — no huge fans of CNN — say it happened, but until there is a transcript or some outside corroboration there is a chance that people are getting upset about a misquote.

If these reports are true, CNN’s Chief News Executive has not helped his network restore some of its luster. According to the Washington Times, this allegation is not new:

In any event, it’s an assertion Mr. Jordan has made before. In November, as reported in the London Guardian, Mr. Jordan said, "The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the U.S. military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by U.S. forces." This is very serious stuff, if true. Yet aside from Mr. Jordan’s occasional comments, there’s no evidence to support it. Mr. Jordan’s almost immediate backpedaling seems to confirm this. In a statement to blogger Carol Platt Liebau, Mr. Jordan said, "To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. I said so during the forum panel discussion. But, nonetheless, the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity." He added, "three of my CNN colleagues and many other journalists have been killed on purpose in Iraq." He didn’t elaborate by whom.

Unless this is settled and some tiny questions are settled –like, what exactly did Mr. Jordan mean, and what proof does he have — it means CNN’s news honcho will be twisting slowly in the media and blososphere winds….and at Fox News they’ll be smiling.