April 11, 2003
CNN EASON JORDAN UPDATE: Several people have sent this link to a transcript of Jordan from back when Hussein was still in power:
BOB GARFIELD: I’m sure you have seen Franklin Foer’s article in The New Republic which charges that the Western press is appeasing the Iraqi regime in order to maintain its visas — to be there reporting should a war ultimately break out. What’s your take on that?
EASON JORDAN: The writer clearly doesn’t have a clear understanding of the realities on the ground because CNN has demonstrated again and again that it has a spine; that it’s prepared to be forthright; is forthright in its reporting.
Let’s hear more about those “realities on the ground.”
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the Foer piece. It’s pretty damning stuff even without the more recent admission.
That said, I think that Jordan deserves at least some credit for admitting the mistake now. The real question is, what will CNN do where other thugocracies are concerned? Is suck-up-for-access still the general approach, or have they learned something?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Is it a “journalistic Enron scandal?” Oh, no. I think it’s much bigger than that.
Matt Welch writes:
The embarrassing Peter Arnett interview on Iraq TV was just a brief public glimpse on what has been a nasty little private “secret” for years — that “news bureaus” in Baghdad and other totalitarian capitals (Havana, to name one) are actually propaganda huts, churning out what CNN producers call “sanctions coverage” (pieces on the awful humanitarian toll of international economic sanctions), while refusing to report the awful truth. It is possible, though intensely difficult, to do honest journalism in such circumstances. But with this column, I think we have the final proof that CNN will not be the news organization to rise to that challenge. Shame.