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February 6, 2005

Press-Enterprise Editorial on Easongate

The Press-Enterprise of Inland and Southern California today carries an editorial about Eason Jordan's remarks:

If U.S. troops in Iraq targeted journalists for assassination, that would be a huge story. If the source of the story were a top cable news executive, it would earn continuous coverage.

CNN's chief news executive, Eason Jordan, said Jan. 27 on a world stage that "he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops, but they had in fact been targeted," according to Rony Abovitz of the World Economic Forum's weblog.

Problem is, Jordan has provided no facts to substantiate this very serious charge. Now the claim, which Jordan floated at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is spreading through anti-American circles in Europe and the Middle East.

Jordan's words matter because CNN is, in the eyes of much of the world, the "voice of America." If its news chief is reporting fabrications to global leaders at elite summits, it's another blow to media credibility at home, and to the United States' reputation abroad.

Officially, CNN says, "Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the U.S. military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of 'mistaken identity.'"

Nice try, but that's not what he said in Davos, according to multiple news accounts, including one from a former CNN reporter who was there.

In fact, about 36 journalists were killed in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 -- 12 as a result of American fire. All but one of those cases was accidental, according to an independent account by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York based free-press advocacy group. In the other case, intent was not clear.

CNN bills itself as the "world's most respected news network." If the network expects to sell that slogan, it will need a more honest top executive than Eason Jordan.

We call on CNN to release footage of Jordan's remarks as soon as possible. Hopefully, CNN was being forthright when it told Sisyphean Musings that they'll get a tape to him post haste.

Correction: [12:46p] Actually, CNN has done nothing of the sort. It was the Head of Media at the World Economic Forum that promised Sysiphean Musings a tape. Thanks to an Alert Commenter for pointing that out.

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