CNN News Executive Eason Jordan Quits

CNN News Executive Eason Jordan Quits (AP)

CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan quit Friday amidst a furor over remarks he made in Switzerland last month about journalists killed by the U.S. military in Iraq. Jordan said he was quitting to avoid CNN being “unfairly tarnished” by the controversy.

During a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum last month, Jordan said he believed that several journalists who were killed by coalition forces in Iraq had been targeted. He quickly backed off the remarks, explaining that he meant to distinguish between journalists killed because they were in the wrong place where a bomb fell, for example, and those killed because they were shot at by American forces who mistook them for the enemy. “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.

The pajama clad blogosphere strikes again. (Although, I should note, I’ve said next to nothing about it.)

Update (1941): Michelle Malkin reports that NRO’s Ramesh Ponnuru broke the story. How fitting.

Other takes:

Jan Haugland: “Remember the outrage over Jordan’s remarks has been entirely blog-driven phenomenon. The mainstream media (MSM) were all too eager to cover it up.”

John Hindraker quotes himself from February 7: ” This story is playing out in excruciatingly slow motion, but the ending has already been written: Eason Jordan is finished.”

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”

Eugene Volokh: “In an earlier era, it may have died from lack of attention, if it weren’t for the bloggers’ talking about the story, and making it hard for people to ignore.” He also points out something else worth noting: “If you haven’t been following the story, go to InstaPundit, search for Eason, and look at each of the post — Glenn Reynolds has been one of the people who has helped keep the story alive.” Those who think Glenn does nothing but throw links and say “Heh” should take note.

Bill at INDC: “I’m starting to believe in Hugh Hewitt’s theories about blogs having the omnipotence to warp space and time, cure baldness and raise the dead.”

N.Z. Bear has pages tracking the blogosphere’s Easongate post history here and here.

LaShawn Barber is also compiling a linkfest on the subject.

Finally (for me tonight), Scott Ott already has a parody up. Now that’s moving at the speed of blog!

Update (2-12): See other news accounts from CNN, NYT, Reuters, and WaPo/CNN’s Howie Kurtz.

The CNN story is downright maudlin:

The resignation sent shock waves through CNN — with Jordan long admired by his peers, from executives to the rank-and-file. Jordan joined CNN as an assistant assignment editor in 1982 and rose through the ranks to become CNN’s chief news executive. CNN News Group President Jim Walton said that under Jordan’s leadership, the news group “literally circled the globe with bureaus, from Baghdad to Johannesburg to Havana to Sydney to Hong Kong.” “The regard in which he is held by people from every walk of life in virtually every corner of the world has added incalculably to our ability to cover such historic events as the Gulf War and the war in Iraq, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,” Walton said in a written statement to colleagues.

The controversy over Jordan’s remarks gained steam last week, with bloggers posting their accounts of what transpired at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an event attended by political, economic, academic and media figures from around the world.

This is remarkably similar to CBS’ reaction to the Rather scandal: An esteemed journalist’s career was ruined by those pesky bloggers. Kurtz, too, picks up this line of thinking:

Even as he said he had misspoken at an international conference in suggesting that coalition troops had “targeted” a dozen journalists and insisted he never believed that, Jordan was being pounded hourly by bloggers, liberals as well as conservatives, who provided the rocket fuel for a story that otherwise might have fizzled.

Rather and Eason violated the basic tenets of professional journalism and then, when caught, refused to own up to what they had done. People will forgive stupid statements and even the occasional badly botched story; pretending it didn’t happen, though, is hard to recover from.

It’s not just some pajama-clad bloggers that made allegations about Jordan; the likes of David Broder and Sen. Christopher Dodd corroborated them. The difference is that the bloggers actually followed through on the story wherease the professional journalists in the audience somehow failed to see the news value.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Media, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bindare says:

    Could it be that Eason Jordan quit not because of the blogosphere’s fury but because bloggers began looking into who he associated with and what organizations he belonged to. At the risk of being called a conspiracy nut, I believe there are others who don’t want the attention and the investigative blogging coming their way and they asked Eason to step aside.

  2. Zed says:

    I had rather cleverly used the name Eason Jordan as my google Adwords keyword, I posted nothing on the subject, and noticed you didn’t either, but I still stole plenty of coverage on the issue.

  3. bryan says:

    Didn’t jordan say some derogatory things about bloggers earlier last year, possibly during the rathergate contoversy?

    Now, watch. The controversy is going to be the heated thing in the MSM, because he was “a blogger, not a journalist” – an actual quote from someone commenting on the story.