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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Partial Defense of MSM Blog Bashing

posted by Jazz at 2/14/2005 11:17:00 AM


Prepare for something you don't normally see - a defense of portions of the accusations recently leveled against the blogosphere which has so many Citizen's Media pundits howling today. It may also lead to a bit of ranting. You have been warned.

The object of all this fury is the linked piece in the New York Times where Katherine Seeley and her co-authors took bloggers to task as "News Media Trophy Hunters." This piece deals, of course, with Friday's resignation of CNN executive Eason Jordon, following the perfect blogstorm which hit him from the Bush supporting, right wing side of Blogtopia.
With the resignation Friday of a top news executive from CNN, bloggers have laid claim to a prominent media career for the second time in five months.

On Friday, after nearly two weeks of intensifying pressure on the Internet, Eason Jordan, the chief news executive at CNN, abruptly resigned after being besieged by the online community. Morever [sic] , last week liberal bloggers forced a sketchily credentialed White House reporter [ed: "Jeff Gannon"] to quit his post.

At the same time, some in the traditional media are growing alarmed as they watch careers being destroyed by what they see as the growing power of rampant, unedited dialogue.

Steve Lovelady, a former editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal and now managing editor of CJR Daily, the Web site of The Columbia Journalism Review, has been among the most outspoken.

"The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail," he lamented online after Mr. Jordan's resignation.
She is reporting the basic charge that bloggers are acting like a rabid pack of wolves attempting to take the heads off of any MSM figures who appear to slip up, pass off bogus or intentionally distorted information, spin/ignore stories, or display partisan tendencies in their reporting. (And really... how broken do your irony and hypocrisy meters have to be for most bloggers to level that last charge without making you cringe or chuckle.)

Before we go any further, I want to state right up front that the attacks on Eason Jordon, who definitely might have been due some criticism, were questionable right from the start. To give absolutely fair coverage to the "other side" of the argument, I'll point you to a timeline of events in "Easongate" hosted by possibly the most partisan, right wing source possible. The newly minted easongate blog, which so may right wingers were swooning over. You can read the litany of "charges' there.

Now... before we get to the furor over the trophy hunting, lynch mob comments, (covered below) why is this ado questionable?

Item - The biggest complaint from the right wing (and we'll see more on this below) is about the so called "liberal bias" of the media and their unfairly slanted coverage of any news concerning Bush or the Iraq war. (Or anything else to do with Bush, for that matter.) Where did Eason publish the alleged charges that US troops were intentionally killing journalists? Jordan's remarks were made at a private meeting in another country. The other reporters from the MSM, which was so lambasted by the Bush blogs for "not covering the story", almost uniformly stated that the meeting and all comments were "off the record." If Jordan had published these allegations at CNN, you'd have a story. Even if he directly made an accusation of intentional targeting of reporters (which he apparently has not done) he didn't publish them.

Item - In the so-called "timeline" much is made of an October, 2002 appearance in which he made comments about reporters being endangered in Israeli border areas. He never mentions American troops there (the crux of the right wing accusations that he has "sullied the good name of our troops") and was talking about Israeli forces. Unrelated to the current situation.

Item - An April, 2003 op/ed piece he wrote. (Clearly labeled as an "editorial", by the way... not a news story.) In it he describes how he failed to cover a lot of stories about Saddam's atrocities before the war because of fear for the lives of journalists. He was clearly referring to a danger they faced from SADDAM... NOT American forces. Unrelated.

Item - A November, 2004 speaking appearance where Jordan expressed concern over the number of reporters killed in Iraq and a reporter held at Abu Ghraib and allegedly tortured. Well, several reporters HAVE been killed. And the reporter, though he worked for Al Jazeera, was still a member of the press, he was held at Abu Ghraib, and he claims he was tortured. So that's not a story just because it might look bad for America?

There hasn't' been much of a case built for any "pattern" of verbal attacks on US forces that I can see. His remarks at the recent conference were supposedly made "off the record" and not only has a tape not been produced, no two people have even come up with the same quote from him. Jordan had attempted to clarify his remarks, and I would point out that nobody has ever quoted him as saying that US forces intentionally (and that would be the key word) targeted journalists.

Now, on to the head hunting allegations. Did the right wing bloggers engage in some sort of lynch mob mentality, personal attack on Eason Jordan to try to bring down his career? OF COURSE THEY GOD DAMNED WELL DID. They've been acting just like a pack of attack dogs who almost immediately lost sight of whatever the original issue may have been in an effort to have an impact on the real media and bring down a person they viewed as a "disloyal American" for not agreeing with the invasion of Iraq. They smelled blood and opportunity and went into a frothing hysteria. But to read the comments in various blogs and articles today, you can hear a collective, "Lynch mob? Who... us?" You can just about see the glowing little halos over their heads, arms crossed behind their backs , one toe scuffing the floor, as they mutter, "Awww, shucks. Not us. How could ya'll think that?"

Michelle Malkin took a moment out from her blogging to write in the New York Post, " The ad hominem hysterics of Jordan's defenders stand in stark contract [sic] to the way the vast majority of bloggers approached the search for truth in this matter." It's an amusing side note that when I, of all people, have to correct the typos in a New York Post article by Malkin on this subject, you can rather see the level of "journalism" that you're getting here. That's a published piece from an allegedly legitimate "MSM source."

She goes on with the righteous indignation in her blog, where she tries to cast herself in the light of the far more rational and even handed Jeff Jarvis, saying "
or pushing Jordan to be accountable for his words and actions." That's Jeff Jarvis, Michelle. Hardly representative of what we saw from the true right wing.

Captain Ed appears to be so incredibly pleased that he was mentioned in the Times piece that he calls it an "excellent background piece" and describes his interview as "tough but fair."

But it is worth looking at some concrete examples of "what they say now" compared to "what they said then." We can start at Powerline, who as always can be counted on to show both faces. Today they are jumping on Michelle Malkin's bandwagon about "the MSM and the lynch mob meme." But not very long ago, we saw Hindrocket saying, "This story is playing out in excruciatingly slow motion, but the ending has already been written: Eason Jordan is finished." But no, Hind Rocket... you're not after his head, are you?

While Captain Ed, as shown above, is cool as a cucumber now, not very long ago, he certainly sounded like Eason Jordan was on the menu. He describes Jordan's departure as giving "justice to our fine young men and women serving America and the cause of liberty and freedom in Iraq and around the world. Never forget that they were the target of Eason Jordan's lies and slanders." Nope.. nope.. no "head hunting" here, eh?

We've already quoted Michelle Malkin's righteous indignation above, but let's see what she said just prior to Jordan's resignation, shall we? "I have not called for Jordan's firing or resignation (yet)--unlike many other bloggers who did so even before I published by reporting on Rep. Frank, David Gergen, and Chris Dodd on Monday." You know, for somebody who's not trophy hunting, and defending all of your co-conspirators, you certainly seem nearly ready to call for his head, and knew of a lot of others who had already done so.

These same things are repeated over and over and over again in conservative blogs around the web. If you want an even deeper look, check out the comments sections on these posts. The faithful readers of these bloggers go much further, calling for Jordan's imprisonment as a traitor and all of the same old rhetoric they level against anyone who ever dares disagree with the administration or criticize the disaster in Iraq. The self justification and denials of the "howling pack of wolves" charges rings hollow, folks. You should probably give it up. I'm far from the brightest bulb on the tree and I was able to find your dishonest distortions on this in under an hour.