Brokaw: Can't Trust CNN Anymore, Jordan Should've Kept Quiet -- 04/16/2003 CyberAlert
2. Washington Post Blames CNN for Not Exposing Ruthlessness
3. Ex-CNN Reporter Recalls CNN Exec's Groveling Before Hussein
4. Iraq's UN Ambassador Gives CNN's Richard Roth a Goodbye Kiss
5. Thomas Questions Administration Credibility on Syria
6. Jennings Warns of "Aggressive Efforts" to Hush Anti-War Celebs
7. Newsweek and FNC Pick Up on Garofalo's Promise to Apologize
Tom Brokaw scolded CNN's Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive who late last week confessed that CNN withheld specific information he had about Saddam Hussein's brutality and endangerment of Iraqis CNN employed, suggesting he should have kept his knowledge secret since the revelation now casts doubt on anything CNN reports.
On Tuesday's Late Show, Brokaw told David Letterman that CNN "should have worked harder at conveying" what Jordan knew, but that if you "decide to keep that as a secret for yourself to protect those people and to protect the interests of your company, then you probably ought to keep it secret for a long time because it opens them up now, wherever they go, wherever they're stationed, 'well what are they not telling us now?'"
So much for journalists demanding full disclosure.
Brokaw added that when watching CNN's stories from abroad, "you do wonder, what is the deal that they've made to stay where they are when they get there?"
On the April 15 Late Show, Letterman raised Jordan's disclosure, made in a New York Times op-ed last Friday. Brokaw expressed astonishment:
It certainly should, though from beyond the New York Post, Washington Times and Fox News Channel it hadn't until Tuesday when the first mainstream major media outlet, the Washington Post, weighed in with a condemnatory editorial. See item #2 below.
And what secrets did Peter Arnett hold when employed by NBC?
Previous CyberAlert items on the Jordan matter:
-- Brit Hume's FNC panel denounced CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan for withholding knowledge he had of Saddam Hussein's brutality. Morton Kondracke recalled that last year Jordan had insisted "that CNN never made journalistic compromises to gain access," but that "is a flat lie." Columnist Charles Krauthammer observed: "It's a classic example of selling your soul for the story. He clearly gave up truth for access."
-- The Fox News Sunday panel, from left to right, castigated CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan for his confession on Friday that he had covered up knowledge he had about Saddam Hussein's brutality. NPR's Juan Williams called Jordan's decision an "outrage," Weekly Standard Publisher Bill Kristal described Jordan's behavior as "just craven" and even NPR correspondent Mara Liasson was troubled: "I think that raises some crucial questions about how media organizations behave in totalitarian governments." Read the April 14, 2003 CyberAlert item.
-- More Eason Jordan material: In a memo to CNN's staff, Jordan defended his withholding of knowledge he had about Saddam Hussein's brutality, Franklin Foer penned an op-ed updating his story on how media outlets traded truth for access in Baghdad, on FNC Fred Barnes, Brit Hume and Jeffrey Birnbaum all chided Jordan, and OpinionJournal.com revealed that four years ago Jordan complained about how the U.S. government was an impediment to CNN establishing a permanent Baghdad bureau. Plus, on the very day of Jordan's confession, a newspaper story noted that CNN, claiming it's "independent," refused to mar itself by letting its news be part of a new U.S. government TV channel in Iraq. Read the April 15, 2003 CyberAlert item.
In addition to Tom Brokaw (see item #1 above), CNN's Eason Jordan on Tuesday earned the condemnation of another major mainstream journalistic guidepost, a Washington Post editorial, which held CNN culpable for not informing its viewers of Saddam Hussein's true nature. The paper's editorial writers worried that "if CNN did not fully disclose what it knew about the Baathist regime, and if CNN deliberately kept its coverage bland and inoffensive, that would help explain why the regime was not perceived to be as ruthless as it in fact was."
The Post charged: "It is difficult to make judgments in retrospect, but some CNN reporting did seem deliberately unprovocative, given the true nature of the regime."
An excerpt from the April 15 Washington Post editorial:
Every news organization, and every reporter, makes difficult, morally ambiguous decisions when working in a totalitarian state....
Last week, Eason Jordan, the network's chief news executive, wrote an article in the New York Times in which he described some of the things he had learned but not reported during the 13 trips he made to Iraq over the past decade, while lobbying the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open. At one point, a CNN cameraman, an Iraqi citizen, was abducted and subjected to electroshock torture. At another point, CNN learned of an armed attack planned on the organization's headquarters in northern Iraq. Mr. Jordan gives other examples -- and goes on to explain that CNN chose not to report the information to protect other Iraqi employees and out of "fear of endangering our staff in Baghdad."...
If CNN did not fully disclose what it knew about the Baathist regime, and if CNN deliberately kept its coverage bland and inoffensive, that would help explain why the regime was not perceived to be as ruthless as it in fact was, in the Arab world and elsewhere.
In fact, over the past few days, Baathist atrocities have been revealed ad hoc, as U.S. and British troops discover them. When the systematic investigation of Saddam Hussein's Iraq begins, the stories may grow worse. It is difficult to make judgments in retrospect, but some CNN reporting did seem deliberately unprovocative, given the true nature of the regime. An election last autumn, which Saddam Hussein won with 100 percent of the votes, was interpreted as a "message of defiance to U.S. President George Bush," for example. If the network had also told its viewers that Mr. Jordan dealt with an Iraqi official whose teeth had been pried out for upsetting his boss, Uday Hussein, then those watching the electoral story might have felt differently about that report, about the election result and about a regime that terrified its citizens into proclaiming their unanimous support.
END of Excerpt
Read the editorial in full as posted on www.washingtonpost.com.
The problem of access over truth goes beyond Eason Jordan at CNN. Former CNN Baghdad reporter Peter Collins revealed in a Tuesday op-ed for the Washington Times that in 1993 he observed then-CNN President Tom Johnson "groveling" for an interview with Saddam Hussein. Collins recalled how Johnson demanded that he read on the air some talking points provided by the Ministry of Information, but then Johnson complained about his "flat" delivery. Collins recalled: "I was astonished. The President of CNN was telling me I seemed less-than-enthusiastic reading Saddam Hussein's propaganda."
An excerpt from the April 15 piece by Collins, who also served as a reporter for CBS in Vietnam and for ABC in Central America during the late 1980s:
....In January 1993, I was in Baghdad as a reporter for CNN on a probationary, three-month contract....
CNN had made its reputation during the war with its exclusive reports from Baghdad. Shortly after my arrival, I was surprised to see CNN President Tom Johnson and Eason Jordan, then chief of international news gathering, stride into the al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad. They were there to help CNN bid for an exclusive interview with Saddam Hussein, timed to coincide with the coming inauguration of President Clinton.
I took part in meetings between the CNN executives and various officials purported to be close to Saddam. We met with his personal translator; with a foreign affairs adviser; with Information Minister Latif Jassim; and with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
In each of these meetings, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan made their pitch: Saddam Hussein would have an hour's time on CNN's worldwide network; there would be no interruptions, no commercials. I was astonished. From both the tone and the content of these conversations, it seemed to me that CNN was virtually groveling for the interview.
The day after one such meeting, I was on the roof of the Ministry of Information, preparing for my first "live shot" on CNN. A producer came up and handed me a sheet of paper with handwritten notes. "Tom Johnson wants you to read this on camera," he said. I glanced at the paper. It was an item-by-item summary of points made by Information Minister Latif Jassim in an interview that morning with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan.
The list was so long that there was no time during the live shot to provide context. I read the information minister's points verbatim. Moments later, I was downstairs in the newsroom on the first floor of the Information Ministry. Mr. Johnson approached, having seen my performance on a TV monitor. "You were a bit flat there, Peter," he said. Again, I was astonished. The president of CNN was telling me I seemed less-than-enthusiastic reading Saddam Hussein's propaganda.
The next day, I was CNN's reporter on a trip organized by the Ministry of Information to the northern city of Mosul. "Minders" from the ministry accompanied two busloads of news people to an open, plowed field outside Mosul. The purpose was to show us that American warplanes were bombing "innocent Iraqi farmers." Bits of American ordinance were scattered on the field. One large piece was marked "CBU." I recognized it as the canister for a Cluster Bomb Unit, a weapon effective against troops in the open, or against "thin-skinned" armor. I was puzzled. Why would U.S. aircraft launch CBUs against what appeared to be an open field?...
About 2000 yards distant on a ridgeline, two radar dishes were just visible against the sky. The ground was freshly plowed. Now, I understood. The radars were probably linked to Soviet-made SA-6 surface-to-air missiles mounted on tracks, armored vehicles, parked in the field at some distance from the dishes to keep them safe. After the bombing, the Iraqis had removed the missile launchers and had plowed the field to cover the tracks.
On the way back to Baghdad, I explained to other reporters what I thought had happened, and wrote a report that was broadcast on CNN that night.
The next day, Brent Sadler, CNN's chief reporter at the time in Baghdad (he is now in northern Iraq), came up to me in a hallway of the al Rasheed Hotel. He had been pushing for the interview with Saddam and had urged Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan to come to Baghdad to help seal the deal. "Petah," he said to me in his English accent, "you know we're trying to get an interview with Saddam. That piece last night was not helpful."...
As it happens, CNN never did get that interview....
In my brief acquaintance with Mr. Jordan at CNN, I formed the impression of a decent man, someone with a conscience. On the day Mr. Jordan published his piece in the New York Times, a panel on Fox News was discussing his astonishing admissions. Brit Hume wondered, "Why would he ever write such a thing?" Another panelist suggested, "Perhaps his conscience is bothering him." Mr. Eason, it should be.
END of Excerpt
Read the piece in its entirety as posted on washtimes.com.
Just before Iraq's Ambassador to the United Nations got into a car for a ride to the airport for a flight out of the United States on Friday, he selected out one reporter for special thanks, CNN's Richard Roth, and even walked over to kiss him on the cheek, video played Monday night by FNC's Brit Hume showed.
Hume set up the humor clip at the end of his April 14 program, as taken down by MRC analyst Patrick Gregory: "Finally tonight, a bit of bad luck. On the very day his boss admitted withholding information on the atrocities of the Iraqi regime, CNN's UN correspondent Richard Roth found himself outside the residence of departing Iraqi UN ambassador Mohamed Aldouri. As far as we know, this had nothing to do with anything CNN may have covered up about the regime Aldouri had represented. But watch the farewell poor Richard Roth gets."
The video showed Aldouri addressing Roth on the sidewalk outside a Manhattan building: "Hi Richard, good evening. How are you? Good to see you Richard. I want just to say thank you very much Richard. And thanks for the CNN and thanks for all your colleagues. I was really happy. Thank you for your awareness. Thank you for all what you did, with me, sometimes I was very tough; I am sorry for that, I regret. Thank you very much, thank you."
Aldouri walked to his car, but then turned and returned to where Roth was standing, and oozed just before kissing a startled Roth on both cheeks: "Richard, good luck. All my best."
Hume quipped: "Guy's like your Aunt Edna, somebody who [you] just didn't want to kiss you."
Another memorable exchange between Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas at a White House briefing. On Tuesday, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, she took offense to the hard line on Syria and argued that would "enhance" U.S. credibility to provide evidence that Syria is harboring Iraqi regime fugitives. To which Fleischer retorted: "I think our credibility is rather strong."
Thomas demanded at the April 15 pres briefing: "Is the United States putting on warning all the countries that have weapons of mass destruction or only Syria?"
And she followed up: "Why is the focus on Syria?"
Thomas kept at it: "Do you have proof of that?...Then why don't you send them proof of that?...Don't you think it would enhance your credibility if you showed us?"
To that last plea, Fleischer retorted: "I think our credibility is rather strong."
Certainly a lot stronger than Thomas's.
ABC's Peter Jennings sees an ominous new threat in the world. Not weapons of mass destruction or terrorism, but another vast right-wing conspiracy at home, specifically, the supposedly "well organized and aggressive efforts to make life very difficult for celebrities who speak out against the war."
Jennings ended Tuesday's World News Tonight with this plug for Wednesday's show: "That is our report on World News Tonight. Tomorrow on the broadcast, the well organized and aggressive efforts to make life very difficult for celebrities who speak out against the war. I'm Peter Jennings. Have a good evening, and good night."
I can't wait to hear how all the celebrities who were regularly appearing on cable news before the war were suppressed. And if people choose not to watch their shows or buy their CDs, that's the free market and the public just expressing its disagreement with their views.
Apparently Jennings doesn't consider it newsworthy to examine how celebrities erroneously predicted disastrous events would result from the war or whether some owe an apology, like Janeane Garofalo who promised that she'd admit it if she were proven wrong. (See item #7 below for more on Garofalo.)
That's probably because he too would have to admit that he was wrong.
Jennings' agenda is probably inspired by some recent whining from actor Tim Robbins, who was Tuesday's luncheon speaker at the National Press Club. On Monday's Today show, prompted by the Baseball Hall of Fame cancelling an appearance by him, Robbins contended that the message is that "if you would disagree with this administration you can and will be punished."
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught how on the April 14 Today Matt Lauer tossed up a bunch of softballs to Robbins, who used Baseball Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey's decision to cancel an event marking the 15th anniversary of the movie Bull Durham in which Robbins starred, as an excuse to spout off about how he's being oppressed.
Robbins charged: "He basically says that if you do not agree with this President you don't have the right to this particular forum. You do not have the right to come to Cooperstown. Which is a very punitive and, and aggressive kind of way of dealing with the situation....And by doing it in the public way he did, by sending it to the AP at the same time he's sending it to me he's trying to, he's trying to send a message out which is basically, if you would disagree with this administration you can and will be punished."
Robbins echoed himself: "We're sending out messages to the public on an almost daily basis that they have no right to protest against this President."
If Robbins fears Elizabeth Dole, about as mushy a moderate as you can find, he really has insecurity issues.
Lauer tossed Robbins another softball pitch: "How did this climate get created, in your opinion?"
Back for a second round after the 8:25am local news break, Lauer re-cued Robbins for his spiel: "What do you think about the climate we're living in right now where the Dixie Chicks records are pulled, where Madonna pulls a music video because she's afraid that people will misinterpret as anti-war, anti-troops?"
How exactly are you being silenced when the most-watched national morning television show gives you a platform?
See a picture of Robbins and a rundown of his film roles, check the page for him on the Internet Movie Database.
You read it here first, before Newsweek and FNC raised the subject this week.
The April 11 CyberAlert last Friday proposed: "Time for Janeane Garofalo's comeuppance? Will Garofalo follow through on her promise, made to Fox's Bill O'Reilly, that if she is proven wrong and Iraqis welcome U.S. troops who find stores of weapons of mass destruction, 'I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say, 'hey, you were right, I shouldn't have doubted you.'"
The "Conventional Wisdom" box in the April 21 Newsweek out this week gave Garofalo a down arrow: "Predicted 'doom' for U.S. forces, promised apology to Bush if troops greeted as liberators. We're still waiting."
The "Bagging Baghdad Edition" of CW is online at www.msnbc.com.
And Tuesday morning on FNC's Fox and Friends, MRC analyst Patrick Gregory noticed, the morning team recalled Garofalo's promise and apparent refusal to yet apologize:
Steve Doocy: "So now, is she going to be crawling back to the White House, and she said, here's her quote: 'Boycotters are welcome to keep giving me tons of publicity; there will be no apology.'"
She'll never get over her Bush hatred. During the interview with O'Reilly on the March 6 The Pulse on Fox, when asked by O'Reilly if she thinks "George W. Bush is more of a danger to this world than Saddam?", the left-wing actress/comedienne maintained: "Equal, in a different way."
Earlier in the session O'Reilly had elicited the promise from her: "If you are wrong, all right, and if the United States -- and they will, this is going to happen -- goes in, liberates Iraq, people in the street, American flags, hugging our soldiers, all right, we find all kinds of bad, bad stuff, all right, in Iraq, you gonna apologize to George W. Bush?"
Now that it has occurred, Iraqis hugging Americans and waving flags can no longer be considered "preposterous."
Watch a RealPlayer video clip of the above exchange, go back to the April 11 CyberAlert.
> Reminder to early risers and readers: CNN's Eason Jordan is scheduled to be on C-SPAN's Washington Journal this morning for the 7:30am EDT half hour.
-- Brent Baker