February 8, 2005

Jordan Story Hits MSM: Mickey Fisks Howie, But Good!

Power Line reports that Howie Kurtz of the WaPo has broken media silence on the Eason Jordan charges against U.S. forces. He did, here.

Can't go so far as to say "whitewash," but Howie does give Jordan the benefit of the doubt.

Even the weak version of Jordan's charges, though, are pretty serious, and he apparently can't, or won't, back them up.

If Jordan is serious and has evidence, let''s have an investigation. But if Jordan was lying or making unfounded charges, he should pay the price for his irresponsibility.

One lesson: media silence cannot be maintained in the face of determined pressure from the blogosphere. The monopoly really is broken to that extent. Good to know.

Update: But then Mickey Kaus, God bless him, brutally fisks Kurtz's piece.

Witness Protection: Kurtz has Barney Frank recalling Jordan--after he "modified" his shocking remarks--still saying shocking things at Davos about U.S. forces "maybe knowing they were killing journalists, out of anger." Kurtz then has Jordan denying this, admitting he "wasn't as clear as I should have been" but saying he "never once in my life thought anyone from the U.S. military tried to kill a journalist" and "[n]ever meant to suggest that." It's Frank vs. Jordan! Then Kurtz says portentously--opening a new paragraph-- "Two other panelists backed Jordan's account."

But one of those panelists, moderator David Gergen, doesn't agree with Jordan. Gergen says Jordan went "too far" and then "walked it back." (Jordan doesn't admit to backtracking, only lack of clarity.)

Kaus points out that there's a videotape of the whole thing, a big public meeting with many dignitaries (honchos) present, and the gnomes ain't sharing:

But forget the witnesses. There's a video of this event, initially promised to a blogger but now being kept under wraps by the Davos people. Downplayed eyewitness Abovitz says Jordan "is much better off if the tape (in classic "1984" style) just disappears." Kurtz merely notes in passing that "a videotape of the event has not been made public," but he doesn't put even routine journalistic pressure on the World Economic Forum to release it. If it were a tape of, say, Karl Rove making a remark about future Supreme Court justices, wouldn't a Woodsteinian WaPo reporter raise at least a cynical eyebrow or two about the need for secrecy--asking the Davos officials for an explanation of why they weren't releasing it, or asking Jordan if he'd give his permission to have the video made public? If you wanted to kill the controversy dead, though, you'd do what Kurtz did.

Kaus concludes that Kurtz's piece is a whitewash, and Kurtz has a conflict because CNN gave him a show. Kaus also allows there might be some truth buried in what Jordan said. If so, let it come out.

And release the videotape! With a tape, as Nixon learned, "plausible deniability" ain't an option.

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