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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Criss-crossing Jordan

(I was tempted to title this post "Double-Crossing Jordan", but that would sort of imply that Mr. Jordan was on "our" side, and had betrayed us. He would probably deny he has a side. But if he does, it's not ours.)

No doubt you've heard of the latest Eason Jordan contretemps when Rony Abovitz, covering the Davos forum (which I can't help thinking of as the Davros forum), posted that Eason Jordan, Chief News Exec at CNN, had claimed that US troops were "targeting" journalists. This, naturally, raised a great ruckus there on the scene and in the blogosphere afterwards. Everybody seems to have understood Jordan to mean "deliberately targeting" (i.e., knowing they were journalists).

But then Jordan released a clarifying statement saying he meant merely that they had been deliberately shot at, presumably in the belief that they were the enemy. This came up, he says, because Barney Frank has asserted that journalist deaths had been "collateral damage".

However, Powerline points to a 2002 interview with Jordan which seems to believe, again, that journalists, as journalists, were being deliberately killed.

I was going to post on this yesterday, and point out that the sort of "targeting" that Jordan says he was talking about -- that is, journalists being mistaken for enemy combatants -- wouldn't be too surprising given this sort of thing (see the photo on the right): "An Iraqi Shi'ite militiaman takes aim at a US Apache helicopter flying above a cemetery in the Holy city of Najaf on Sunday."

That photo is credited to Reuters. As I said at the time, that photo, by Akram Saleh, and another by Hadi Mizban of AP, were virtually identical. There were two photographers -- one from an American news service -- cozied up with jihadis who were aiming at Americans.

Seems to me that if you're going to get this chummy with the enemy, you're going to have to expect to catch a bullet or two. (And, of course, the same sort of thing goes for reporters embedded with Coalition forces as well.) I hope Jordan doesn't think journalists should act as human shields, preventing US forces from firing on "militiamen" just because there might be a cameraman lurking nearby.

Roger Simon says "...there are three possibilities, my dear Watson: 1. Jordan is right. 2. he is delusional. 3. he is lying.

Sorry, Holmes, but you are forgettng a fourth possibility. To quote another fictional character: It's extraordinary how one yields to that fatal temptation to swank. It undoes the best of us. (Bertie Wooster in Chapter 2 of Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse.) In the Davos context, swanking means waxing indignant over American perfidy. The crowd eats that sort of thing up. It makes you feel brave and important. Then some smarty-pants killjoy wants to know where you get your information.

Oopsie! You forgot, just for a moment, that there might be people in the room who do not share your world view 100%. Then you have to backtrack a bit, because a) now you're in danger of being criticized, and b) you're talking out your ass. Uh oh, now your fan club wants to know why you are denying the brave truths you spoke a moment ago. Are you a tool of the US government after all? Are you afraid to speak Truth to Power? What will the lads down at the Woodward and Bernstein Old Empire Topplers' Club say?