February 6, 2005

Eason Jordon and the Unwritten Blacklist

The Eason Jordan / American Soldiers Assassinate Reporters story has been running outside of the mainstream media for well over a week. There is a videotape, as yet in an undisclosed location, and there could be a transcript of that tape.

Major media hasn't touched this one at all, as a brief search under Eason Jordan on Google News will reveal.

Frustration is mounting in the blogsphere as the point man on this story, Hugh Hewitt , states:

You can't blast heroes as killers and walk off the field to a cocktail parties in Davos and pretend nothing happened.
Sigh. Sorry, Hugh, but as a matter of fact you can. Especially if you occupy a position like that of Eason Jordan.

I have a lot of respect for the work, writing, passion and positions of Hewitt, but surely he is being disingenuous here. Surely he knows about the "Unwritten Blacklist" of mainstream media today. Unlike the oooga-booga Hollywood Blacklist still used today to convince credulous freshmen that something under the Conservative Bed is always drooling and stalking their freedom, the "Unwritten Blacklist" is quite real and quite tangible. And its primary function is to keep the MSM gravy train moving down the track.

To take on an Eason Jordan and expose him would be a noble thing for a major journalist to do, but it would also put a large check mark against his name on the Unwritten Blacklist as a traitor. Even if Jordan were brought down, especially if Jordan were brought down, the journalists behind it would find their chances for other lucrative job offers, for advancement, and for invitations to all the right parties in New York, Washinton, and the Hamptons severely curtailed. Their actions against an Eason Jordan would be quietly noted by those in hiring and assignment positions higher up the media food chain. After all, to take on one is to take on all.

It used to be the case that if you "struck at a prince" you had to be sure to kill him. Things are not that simple in the upper realms of the unelected powerbroker's of MSM. Now if you strike at a prince you have to kill all the others around them. Unless, of course, you don't care about appearing on cable news shows to sooth your vanity and pump your book, or care about landing that book deal to begin with, or care about someday having a show of your own, or care about advancing at your institution or receiving a better offer from another newspaper, magazine, television network. Strike at someone like Eason Jordon and all these things will, somehow, just not be offered to you.

And, in their hearts, journalists and columnists understand this. Eason Jordan is a member of a caste system and that system punishes those who tell tales out of school by labeling them "untouchable."

At the end of the day, nothing's going to happen with the Jordan story. The videotape will be lost and the transcript will not surface, and all will move on to the next four-hour news cycle. Jordan will be back working the room and being worked next year at Davos.

You see you can blast heroes as killers and walk off the field to cocktail parties in Davos and pretend nothing happened if you and your cohort control the careers of all that might expose you.

That's how, absent a net worth of at least $500 million, you get to Davos in the first place.
Update: I note that Hugh Hewitt disagrees with my view of the matter. Let me say clearly that, although nobody likes to be wrong, this is one instance where it would give me great personal and professional pleasure to be proven, in the end, to have been utterly wrong.

If it is indeed the case that the exposure of Jordan's sordid moment by a host of blogs great and small proves to be the force that moves the Jordan story into the national limelight, it will -- more so that Rathergate -- establish this medium as a new power to be reckoned with on the mediascape.

To paraphrase Eliot, I will have said "the wrong thing for the right reason."

Posted by Vanderleun at February 6, 2005 8:56 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Of course I wish I could say you are wrong or I disagree with you.Unfortunately I believe the blogosphere is most likely going to continue to experience the position where you speak up and question misconduct or evil because when it comes down to it, you do it because it is the right thing to do and you want to sleep better at night and not necessarily because you want a big scoop, 15 minutes of fame, or someone to be rightfully called on what are most likely libelous statements. Nice post on a sad reality check...

Posted by: Crystal Clear at February 6, 2005 1:32 PM

The problem with MSM is not that it has a 'caste system', but that it is horribly biased.
Accordingly, journalists won't snitch on other like-minded journalists (left-leaning?) in your described scenario.
But is Eason Jordan's caste system Chris Wallace's caste system?
This story will grow because there are plenty of 'major journalists' who don't pay much mind to Eason Jordan's scary blacklist.

Posted by: Rob Hunter at February 6, 2005 1:52 PM

It looks good on paper, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. Reuters or the AFP could have, easily, thrown out a (no particular author) blurb that would have been picked up by every left leaning media outlet on the planet, if they reflected Jordan’s comments without further analysis or investigation.
However, that’s just the point. That puts a bull’s eye on them to dig deeper, because they would become the new target of Hewitt and the crew for not exploring the story further. I think they are perfectly content to allow the blogs to do the legwork for them so they can take the position of reporting without the “Scarlet Letter” of investigating and uncovering. You are correct to the extent that no one wants the label of knocking off one of the pious kings due to potential repercussions and career obstacles. However, that wouldn’t stop the widely read Mark Steyns or George Wills. And, as Steyn had shown late last year, only a mentally incapacitated editor would consider nixing one of his pieces because that just stirs the fire and produces more of an audience.

There’s a showdown coming up. The video will pop up. A transcript will become available. The blogs will make it available to the press, and they will report it. The secondary (i.e. columnists, talking heads, and OpEd’rs) will tear Jordan apart, because once the documentation is out there, the concern will be market share, not concubines. Then it will be contingent upon Jordan to lessen the blow. The only way to do so is to, either, prove his story (which the military will not take too kindly), or discredit the blogs.

CNN v. Blogs is going to make CBS v. Blogs look like a Saturday afternoon tea party at the Café Fleuri.

Posted by: IR at February 6, 2005 2:00 PM

How did rathergate happen if every journalist is afraid of being black listed?

Posted by: noname at February 6, 2005 4:42 PM

Get enough blood in the water and even sharks can't resist eating their own.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at February 6, 2005 4:47 PM

Mr. Van Der Leun is right. There was too much blood in the water. And during a feeding frenzy, who's going to look at a particular shark?

It was a high-profile screw-up by a broadcast network, during a highly-contested presidential campaign season, where blogs had gained a lot of influence.

Contrast that with Davos, a high-octane conference in Switzerland with the world's mover and shakers, where media access is restricted and bloggers are non-existent.

CNN (in addition to other media outlets)has already shown in Iraq it would 'compromise' to get and keep access. This more of the same, on a smaller scale.

Posted by: P.A. Breault at February 6, 2005 5:02 PM

I would tend to agree with the optimists, because 1) bloggers have already shown we can create enough blood in the water to bring journalists in to eat their own, and 2) the MSM is not monolithic. Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt get published and FOX airs. They have a smaller pie than the networks, but they make good livings.

Posted by: Yehudit at February 6, 2005 6:12 PM

Concur Yr Analysis WITH
this proviso:

As directors who must deliver a turkey of a film use the on-screen credit Alan Smithee, journalists can courageously use a pseudonym to break and pursue the story.

Eason is smug in his arrogant elite protection, but We the People can bring him to justice!

Posted by: Carridine at February 6, 2005 7:30 PM

Andrew Sullivan and some others brought down the editor of the New York Times by hitting the NYT hard with all of its mistakes and scandals. Bloggers have saved a Presidency from the likes of Dan Rather and Mary Mapes; indeed, they made sure that two stories blew up in CBS's face, back-to-back. They've caused everyone in the national media to "know doubt." They will hang on every word that Eason Jordan utters from now on. They will have microphones and video cameras everywhere. They will learn to cultivate friendships with people who can supply them with information on Jordan. Some will learn to bribe. A few will learn to blackmail. They will learn the uses of anonymous reporting. Jordan's competitors, those who want his job or his market share, will learn the arts of the anonymous informant.

Moreover, Eason Jordan does not merely have subordinates as associates. He's part of a for-profit company whose profits will be damaged as bloggers continue to erode its prestige. He works under company officers and a company board who will come less and less to tolerate the embarrassment and losses Jordan brings on them. Nor ought we to discount the possibility that some of those company officers and board members are patriotic and will consider themselves to have done something for their country if they manage to push Jordan out of his job.

But Jordan must fear more than those threats. From now on, he has to fear every crack shot in the armed forces--not so much if he has slandered them, but more if he has not.

Posted by: Doug at February 6, 2005 8:25 PM

I am continually amazed at the malignate egotism of the so-called press. Knowing only the scant hearsay evidence on this matter I can only conclude that people who willingly put themselves in the line of fire of the American Military must think they are immune to the consequences of stepping on superman's cape. Put yourself in a situation as a grunt knowing that his enemy is suicidal and demonstrated a propensity of hiding behind women and children and stupid press people. What would you do? I don't think any grunts are putting notches on their rifle butt for roge reporters, however, I think they souldn't care one twit if one got on there.

Posted by: john bero at February 6, 2005 11:04 PM

It's the labor unions! They are the hidden hand that controls so much. In many industries, including the media, a labor union under the AFL-CIO (in this case the Communication Workers &/or Editors &/or Radiobroadcasters union) controls who works and who doesn't in the MSM, unless there is enough money involved and the labor union doesn't get implicated. . .

I will have more on this at my site. . .


Posted by: Zenith at February 7, 2005 12:52 AM

If a man waits by the river long enough, he will see the bodies of his enemies float by.


Posted by: Eracus at February 7, 2005 6:37 AM


The truth is, Jordan CAN ignore his many critics. Why not? The American attention span is quite short, and very soon, something of MAJOR IMPORTANCE -like the Oscars - will drive attention away from his dangerous accusations against the army.

But the lesson here is that ANYBODY can ignore ANYTHING. The first lesson in politcs is, never apologize, never explain. Though we call it the MSM, the truth is that new media is bigger than the MSM, in terms of the amount of people it reaches. Had Trent Lott just shut up and ignored everyone, his litle overblown comment would have been forgotten. By responding to his critics, he just egged them on and made them - us - more bloodthirsty.

Conservatives must learn to ignore the MSM entirely. If Jordan can ignore us, as he smartly will, we must learn to ignore them. Their "power", so to speak, lies in their ability to influence others. When we have finally learned to ignore the left, rather than mock it, the MSM will have breathed it last.

David F.

Posted by: David F at February 7, 2005 7:47 AM

Why is the msm going 'full stonewall' on this when it didn't on rathergate?

At least 4 reasons:

(i) Jordon did not speak in public, let alone on national television, as P. A. Breault pointed out.

(ii) What Jordon said cannot be explained away as a mistake (honest or otherwise), unlike what Dan Rather did. The msm could talk about Rahtergate without automatically destroying Rather. However, if what has been reported is accurate, then Jordan's career is over if the msm reports on it.

(iii) The lack of hard evidence (vidoe tape)gives outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Fox a reason to do very little, or nothing at all, with this story.

(iv) Jordan's remarks are clearly a product of the msm's culture of hatred of the military; Rather's use of forged memos were evidence of the msm's hatred of Republicans. The msm can and does deal with the fact that everyone knows it hates Republicans; it can't deal with everyone knowing it hates the military.

Posted by: max at February 7, 2005 11:40 AM

The biggest coverup in America is not the MSM. It is not bloggers vs. the left vs the right.

It is the drug war. No one is looking at the big picture.

You have sick people losing their homes, higway robbery by police, torture by police, murder by police. Day in and day out.

Where is the outrage?.

No where. After all, druggies are not our kind of people.

Posted by: M. Simon at February 8, 2005 12:31 AM

All it would take is one individual to file a libel suit (remember General Westmoreland vs. CBS?). Then the matter is public record, which cannot be controlled by the MSM. So is there a billionaire who will bankroll a suit defending our veterans (as other financial angels funded the Swiftvets) and a soldier/marine to be the complainant?

Posted by: Machias Privateer at February 8, 2005 6:43 AM

Perhaps not quite the MSM, but Eason's statements -- and the reactions to them by Frank, Dodd, and Gergen, are the subject of front-page coverage in today's (Feb 8) New York Sun, the fast-browing NYC broadsheet that was founded as an "antidote" to the NY Times.

Story by staff reporter Roderick Boyd is available at http://www.nysun.com

R. N. Weltz

Posted by: R N Weltz at February 8, 2005 8:44 AM

Perhaps not quite the MSM, but Eason's statements -- and the reactions to them by Frank, Dodd, and Gergen, are the subject of front-page coverage in today's (Feb 8) New York Sun, the fast-growing NYC broadsheet that was founded as an "antidote" to the NY Times.

Story by staff reporter Roderick Boyd is available at http://www.nysun.com

R. N. Weltz

Posted by: R N Weltz at February 8, 2005 8:44 AM

Few of you youngsters remember the Spiro Agnew speech in which he expertly castigated the media for their "instant analysis" of Nixon's November 3,1969, "silent majority" speech, which focused on Vietnam. The Buchanan-Agnew speech blasted the media as "an effete corps of impudent snobs," inspiring Adlai Stevenson to coin the phrase, "prophets of gloom and doom." Most surprisingly, in this little corps of speech writers was a man by the name of William Safire, Washington's own, who probably learned the lessons of "journalistic humility" as a political speech writer. Safire's reference to the media, "those nattering nabobs of negativism" alliteration is a classic.
Solipsistic Jordan and his outrageous comment was a prime example of journalistic irresponsibility.
Bloggers Everywhere! Keep these "amblyopic" journalist on their proverbial toes. They obviously need it.
Janice E. Kidd

Posted by: Janice E. Kidd at February 9, 2005 3:06 AM