Our readers are presumably aware of the controversy swirling around Eason Jordan, the top news guy at CNN, who allegedly charged at the World Economic Forum in Davos that American soldiers have deliberately killed journalists in Iraq. The controversy began with a report by the Forum’s official blogger, Rony Abovitz, and continued as CNN issued a clarification yesterday. We posted on the issue here and here.
The latest comes from Abovitz, who has now returned to the United States, and from Rebecca MacKinnon. MacKinnon has received several emails from Jordan, in which he says that his comments about American soldiers killing journalists have been misunderstood:
To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. But the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity. The reason the word “targeted” came up at all is because I was responding to a comment by Congressman Franks, who said he believed the 63 journalists killed in Iraq were the victims of “collateral damage.” Since three of my CNN colleagues and many other journalists have been killed on purpose in Iraq, I disputed the “collateral damage” statement, saying, unfortunately, many journalists — not all — killed in Iraq were indeed targeted.
Abovitz has weighed in with a rather weird post which seems to take seriously the idea that Jordan’s charge is true, even as Jordan disavows it.
The most interesting point in Abovitz’s post is his statement that a video of the conference session at issue exists. That being the case, it should not be difficult to find out what Jordan actually said.
In the meantime, I find it significant that Jordan acknowledges using the word “targeted,” apparently–although this is not entirely clear–in the context of American soldiers killing journalists. If what Jordan meant to say was that American soldiers had sometimes intentionally shot at people believing them to be terrorists, but they turned out to be journalists, “targeted” is an odd word to use. And it certainly is not the way Jordan has used the term in the past. Check out this 2002 interview in which the same topic was under discussion. Jordan said:
We’re working two very, very big stories right now that have a couple of things in common. One is they’re enormously costly, but more importantly or more worrying is that they’re both exceptionally dangerous, because we’ve seen something in both places that I thank God happens very rarely, and that is that in both places journalists are not only being killed but they’re being targeted. There are combatants in both of these conflicts who are trying to kill journalists, and that is unusual and a very nightmarish situation.
On that occasion, at least, Jordan used the word “targeted” as one would expect, to mean the deliberate killing of journalists.
Perhaps that’s as far as the discussion can go until we see the transcript of the conference session.