For those of us in the information business, this is truly an earth-shaking time. Who would have imagined that the downfall of one of the world’s most powerful news executives would be precipitated by an ordinary citizen blogging his eyewitness report at Davos in the wee hours of the morning on Jan. 27? It’s simply stunning.
The courage of Rony Abovitz cannot be overstated. This ordinary American citizen raised his voice at an international forum of media and political heavyweights–also attended by Europe’s most influential America-haters–and demanded that Eason Jordan back up his poisonous assertion about the American military targeting journalists. Abovitz’s remarks prompted Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to press Jordan for details. Abovitz also received thanks from Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) for standing up. After the event, Abovitz bypassed the MSM and exposed the controversy with a simple click of the mouse.
From there, a few standout bloggers picked up on the story and refused to let it die. The MSM calls it a lynch mob. I call it a truth squad. Ed Morrissey, Hewitt, La Shawn Barber, Jim Geraghty, and LGF kept “baying”–which got the attention of the blogosphere’s most powerful player, Instapundit. Bill Roggio quickly created the group blog, Easongate, to keep on top of the story. Legions of smaller bloggers, too numerous to mention, kept the heat on. N.Z. Bear pitched in with a helpful Easongate tracker.
The relentless Hewitt used his blog, radio show, and Daily Standard column to press the MSM and media critics Jay Rosen and Jeff Jarvis to cover the story, observing, “You can’t cover the press if you don’t press the coverage.”
On Feb. 4, intrepid blogger Sisyphean Musings contacted the World Economic Forum in an effort to obtain a videotape of the forum–which was eventually rebuffed. Rosen, meanwhile, went to work and contacted BBC journalist Richard Sambrook, who was on the Jordan panel, for a statement. Sambrook backed Jordan.
But what about the other panelists? Enter this blog.
I myself came “late” to the story–by blogospheric standards, not MSM standards. On Feb. 1-2, I was traveling and only had time to briefly glance at a post on Captain’s Quarters about Jordan’s remarks. I noticed coverage on Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt when I returned home, but did not take the time to read up on all the background until the weekend. My first brief posts on Easongate weren’t until Feb. 6, when I simply provided links to others covering the story.
The next day, Monday Feb. 7, I thought it might be helpful to try and advance the story by calling up some of the panel participants. Rep. Barney Frank returned my call first thing Monday morning. David Gergen returned my call in the early afternoon. Sen. Chris Dodd’s office provided a statement by late afternoon.
Powerline concluded prophetically: “Eason Jordan is finished.”
And the dam broke bigtime.
On Tuesday Feb. 8, CNN employee and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz finally published a story on the controversy, rehashing much of what I’d reported on this blog–except with a transparent coat of whitewash. Kurtz was roundly mocked by the blogosphere and has done permanent damage to his reputation as an effective media critic. Roger L. Simon said it best: “All in all, this is not an article, more of a place holder…” See also Kaus.
Among the MSM, the Toledo Blade’s Jack Kelly, the Riverside Press Enterprise editorial page, and the Washington Times editorial page, and Investor’s Business Daily were on the ball. So, too, the New York Sun. The New York Post published my column on Wed. Feb 9. That night, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow had three senators on who agreed with the column’s conclusion that Jordan had recklessly slimed our troops. Then came the rest, including a strange footnote from the WSJ op-ed page that will look even stranger in hindsight for ridiculing the “usual Internet suspects” that brought down a previously untouchable MSM giant.
The shock waves that have overwhelmed CNN started with a single blogger and reverberated worldwide. I agree with Rony Abovitz that there should be no joy in watching Eason Jordan’s downfall. But there is certainly great, unadulterated satisfaction in seeing the collective efforts of the blogosphere–citizens and professional journalists among them–produce the one thing the MSM has for too long escaped in its walled-off world: accountability.
Cue the Carpenters music: We’ve Only Just Begun.
Mark Coffey’s take on The Lessons of Easongate.
The tireless Captain Ed on the moral of Eason’s Fables.
Jim Geraghty says “we learned that a lot of people in major media institutions thought this was a tempest in a teacup, unworthy of even a paragraph of coverage.” Yup.
Instapundit has more.
Jeff Jarvis, who will be on Kurtz’s CNN show on Sunday, sez: “Oh, yes, and before we forget… Davos: Release the tape! You, too, can’t stonewall or your little club will become known as the place where the powerful can try to lie.”
Ditto to that.
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A few things strike me that I haven’t yet seen others pick up on.
The “mis-spoke” defence is all very well, but if there’s anyone who knows or should know how to be quoted, how not to be quoted and how to avoid being misquoted it’s a journalist with Jordan’s experience.
If he were a “civilian” I could understand the “tempest in a teapot” view but this guy is a journalist who quotes people everyday.
Ditto, for telling stories that CNN hadn’t aired. If they hadn’t broadcast the story about the Al Jazeera journo forced to eat his shoes, it’s because they couldn’t get people to talk about it on the record. A news executive can’t go passing on those rumours in a semi-public forum. If the standard of proof wasn’t good enough to get it on CNN, it ‘s not good wnough to discuss at a forum in Davos. Maybe at Jordan’s dinner table but not Davos.
To me, these two mistakes are inexcusable coming from a news executive. And they are indeed grounds for firing or resigning.
I still believe it would be better to show the tape because I think journalists can’t possibly argue against that given the nature of the Davos forum.
…there’s something very wrong about journos and power brokers attending huge “off the record” gatherings.
Honestly, I would never agree to be off the record at such an event.
Anyway that’s my take — inescapably bad errors of judgement. He had to go.
April 20, 2013 01:08 PM by Michelle Malkin
January 3, 2013 03:49 PM by Doug Powers
September 4, 2013 02:31 PM by Doug Powers
April 3, 2013 09:29 AM by Michelle Malkin
September 20, 2013 09:18 AM by Michelle Malkin