I originally posted this on my livejournal, 22nd February 2005. There’s a contemporary comment thread there, which I cannot figure out how to import over here.
At the 2005 World Economic Forum, held in Davos, CNN’s chief
news executive Eason Jordan said something in answer to a question. Precisely what he said is unknown, since the WEF is held under the Chatham House Rule: “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” No tapes of any session held under the Chatham House Rule can be released, either video or audio.
Eason Jordan was just back from Iraq. A blogger (Rony Abovitz) present at one of the discussions, either ignorant of the Chatham House Rule or deliberately breaking it, wrote: “During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted.”
Eason Jordan had already been the target of a right-wing blogmobbing in April 2003, after an Op-Ed he wrote for the New York Times was distorted and used to smear him. It’s not surprising that he resigned when it was clear this off-the-cuff comment at what should have been an off-the-record meeting was going to be used as fuel for another blogmobbing.
Arguments have blazed up over whether the real scandal is what Eason Jordan said, or what happened to him as a result (though curiously enough, I’ve seen no one arguing that the real scandal is that Rony Abovitz egregiously broke the Chatham House Rule and, quite possibly, the organisers of the WEF and other such groups will consider banning amateurs who can’t keep the rule from such meetings in future). A few people have pointed out (Jeanne at Body and Soul for one) that the real scandal is that US soldiers have been killing journalists in Iraq – and no one in the American MSM seems to care very much.