February 11, 2005
EASON JORDAN HAS RESIGNED:
Jordan said he was quitting to avoid CNN being "unfairly tarnished" by the controversy. . . .
"I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise," Jordan said in a memo to fellow staff members at CNN.
But the damage had been done, compounded by the fact that no transcript of his actual remarks has turned up. There was an online petition calling on CNN to find a transcript, and fire Jordan if he said the military had intentionally killed journalists.
I think we know what the video would have shown, now. It wasn't a case of the video not turning up, but of it not being released. I think that Jordan could have quickly defused this by just saying "I screwed up," but -- as with Trent Lott -- he waited days while hiding behind a lame and unpersuasive explanation. He should have read this, and other people who might be in his position should do the same.
UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis:
If he had been upfront about what he said from the start; if he had demanded that Davos release the tape and transcript; if he had admitted to putting his foot in his mouth and apologized and said he was wrong; if he'd done that, he'd still have a job. For a lesson, see: Dan Rather. But he released obfuscating statements and didn't level with the public he's supposed to serve and now he's slinking away like a criminal when he should be apologizing for saying something stupid.
Yes. (Lots of blog posts here)
ANOTHER UPDATE: Sisyphean Musings -- who was promised the Davos video, only to see the Davos folks renege -- writes: "I can't understand why Eason Jordan would resign over 'conflicting accounts' of his remarks at the WEF, without first asking that the video of those remarks be released to clear up those conflicts." And EasonGate.com is asking for the tape, too: ""A cloud will hang over this issue until the tape is viewed to confirm what has been reported in this affair." Actually, I think it's pretty clear what the tape would have shown, but I'd like to see it released, too, as a matter of historical record if nothing else.
Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty observes:
I still don't understand why Jordan would resign rather than call for the tape's release — there was always a chance that the public reaction would be, "oh, it's not bad as I thought it would be."
Unless, I guess, it was so bad, that cries of outrage would be inevitable... And the release of the tape would have turned this into a natural television story.
I guess that's right.
More roundups here and here.
And Hugh Hewitt observes: "The trouble was the cover-up."
MORE: Here's Howard Kurtz's story:
No definitive account of what Jordan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 27 has been made public, including the forum's videotape of the off-the-record session. Two Democrats who were there, Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (Conn.), criticized Jordan's remarks. Others in attendance, including U.S. News & World Report editor at large David Gergen and BBC executive Richard Sambrook, said Jordan had corrected his initial remarks.
Kurtz also notes that some think CNN is happy to lose Jordan because of a variety of iffy behaviors on his part, going beyond the Davos statement. ("Several CNN staffers say Jordan was eased out by top executives who had lost patience with both the controversy and the continuing published gossip about Jordan's personal life after a marital breakup.") Joe Gandelman thinks Jordan was a victim of his own stonewalling. And Ed Morrissey notes that the networks are in the position of having to report Jordan's resignation over a scandal that they never mentioned to their viewers.
I was completely flabbergasted by this move. In a way, I see it as a threat, and very skillful damage control (though the best would have been to go public, air the tape, retract, recant, and get it over with). I see it as skillful because I doubt the tape will be released now, though a couple of phone calls could probably make that happen.
And I see it as a threat because without the tape, Jordan is free to play the "victim of the angry bloggers" role. If he doesn't, someone will transpose that upon him.
That's probably true. But, you know, if he were a sportscaster who had made a racial remark, nobody would be saying that.
Mickey Kaus observes: "It should also be noted that the controversy was kept alive not just by blogs, but by the refusal of a relatively liberal Democrat, Barney Frank, to sweep it under the rug in gentlemanly fashion." Which is why my original post on EasonGate just said bravo for Barney Frank. And Chris Dodd deserves a lot of credit, too.