CNN was scrambling to contact Davos blogger Rony Abovitz the moment he got off his airplane from Switzerland. Now we know why. Hugh Hewitt has had an email exchange with Abovitz that blows the lid off the story. There can be little doubt that Eason Jordan, the head news guy at CNN, did accuse American soldiers of deliberately murdering journalists in Iraq. Here are portions of the email exchange, as reported by Hugh:
HH: Can you describe the makeup of the crowd?
RA: At least one U.S. Senator (Dodd), journalists from the major media (Fortune, Wall Street Journal), a number of dignitaries and journalists from Middle Eastern countries, scientists, professors, corporate CEO’s and senior executives….it was a a good mix of the powerful and influential people who essentially run the world.
HH: Was the session videotaped?
RA: I saw a cameraman operating a camera throughout the session filming everything. Unless he was just there going through the motions, it was taped.
HH: Did Mr. Jordan make his “targeted” remark in response to a comment by Congressman Frank?
RA: I believe that Congressman Frank was dragged into all of this after the fact. Mr. Jordan gave us all a monologue that evolved from his personal experiences in Iraq about this idea of U.S. soldiers targeting U.S. and foreign journalists. I first challenged Mr. Jordan, and then moderator David Gergen (of Harvard’s JFK School of Government) brought Frank in as a member of the U.S. government to respond to claims that shocked all of us. I remember Gergen in particular being flabbergasted and disturbed to a very high degree by Mr. Jordan’s statements. Congressman Frank told the audience that his briefings indicated that all the journalists killed to date in Iraq were due to “collateral damage”. Jordan disagreed, and gave us an example of U.S. soldiers deliberately shelling a hotel in Iraq which was known to all as a haven for journalists covering both sides of the war. Congressman Frank was pretty much a bystander being dragged into all of it.
HH: Can you recall the reaction of the audience to the initial Jordan statement concerning “targeting?”
RA: Some members of the audience were shocked and in disbelief. Others supported Mr. Jordan’s statements and seemed visibly impressed that Mr. Jordan had the courage to say such things to a world audience. One thing I will never forget: Arab journalists coming up to Mr. Jordan at the end of the session and praising his sheer bravery for standing up to the U.S. military in such a public way. I will also never forget the absolute look of horror on Professor Gergen’s face, the disbelief that the U.S. military would ever do such things. Gergen went on to describe that in his own experience, the U.S. military were always the “good guys”, rescuing journalists, never deliberately targeting them for death. Gergen also felt obligated to basically halt the debate at some point because the Pentagon and U.S. military were not represented at the session, and therefore no balanced discussion could be had (Congressman Frank is probably not a good proxy for the Pentagon). Another observation: those of us from the U.S. in the crowd were by and large disturbed, but it seemed that those from Europe or the Middle East were in large agreement with Mr. Jordan, as if he was confirming what they already new and believed. The divide between the U.S. and the rest of the world seemed large. I do want to note that the topic seemed to be an emotional one for Mr. Jordan, and I believe that he has had friends and co-workers who were journalists killed in Iraq. He seemed so moved and passionate about the subject that it only compounded the level of uncertainty and severity about what was being discussed. A number of people in the audience, including Senator Dodd, came up to me and thanked me for directly challenging what was a serious charge against the U.S. military. I wonder why Senator Dodd didn’t take Mr. Jordan on himself right then and there. A lot of us were disturbed by the possibility of Mr. Jordan’s statements being true, and at the same time equally disturbed by the lack of hard data, or any data, to back up what he said.
The contrast of what he was saying before and after he realized what he was saying was pretty incredible. His media savvy, professional
executive brain did kick in, but not soon enough. The content and context of what he said would allow groups with an anti-American bias
to take what he said and believe that the American military forces had targeted for assasination journalists. For someone with a pro-U.S. posture, you were left confused and in disbelief. It was easy and even credible to believe (in the WEF setting, post Abu Ghraib Prison scandal) that the U.S. military was capable of doing anything. A good answer to this question can come from someone like Afghan foreign minister, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who also shared the stage with Mr. Jordan. I would also encourage you to get responses to this question from a wide spectrum of Arab journalists. Understanding how they understood Mr. Jordan’s message could be helpful.
Jordan appears to be more or less in hiding. Where is the videotape?
What this story shows, I think, is how badly the left-wing media have damaged the United States with their incessant accusations and over-the-top coverage of stories like Abu Ghraib.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, a female Italian journalist has been kidnapped by a gang of gunmen in Baghdad. Somehow, though, it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that U.S. soldiers could be responsible.
FURTHER UPDATE: I have phoned Barney Frank, emailed David Gergen, and phoned CNN to ask Frank, Gergen and Jordan for interviews. I’m not holding my breath, but you never know. Actually, it would be smart for Eason Jordan to give us an interview. It would be a great way to get his side of the story out in the venue where the story is being debated, that is, the blogosphere. We’ll see whether CNN agrees.