Thursday, February 03, 2005

Weathering the Blog Storm

CNN's Eason Jordan has made outrageous statements about the U. S. Military torturing or killing journalists depending on which statements you read. His latest remarks alleged that journalists that had been killed in Iraq were being targeted by the U. S. Military.

Yesterday, the blogosphere jumped all over the story calling for Mr. Jordan to come clean about his statements. Rather than come straight out and apologize for his remarks, he went on defense first claiming through a statement sent out by CNN that his remarks were taken out of context. I was among many bloggers to receive that statement in a comment posted on my first post on this subject.

Later in the evening, Carol Platt Liebau and Rebecca McKinnon posted responses that they had received from Mr. Jordan which essentially stated that he had been misunderstood. However, Captain Ed pointed out that Mr. Jordan had made similar statements in the past. He also challenged Mr. Jordan to answer a few questions.

It's clear that Mr. Jordan and CNN, with an assist from other media outlets willing to turn a blind eye to this story, are trying to weather the blog storm.

However, Mr. Jordan's better strategy would have been to come out and simply admit his mistake.

This affair reminds me of a scene in the movie Clear and Present Danger. At the beginning of the movie, an American businessman and his family are murdered aboard their yacht. He happens to be a friend and contributor to the President's election campaign. As the investigation ensues, it turns out that the slain businessman was laundering money for a Columbian drug cartel. This presents a political problem for the President who must now decide how to deal with the crisis. While his first instinct is to deny that he knew the businessman, Jack Ryan (portrayed by Harrison Ford) offers some different advice: admit he was your friend. When the press pushes back and asks how well the President knew the victim, the President should admit that they were good friends. When pressed further about their friendship, the President should respond that they were close friends. In other words, by being honest about the relationship up front, the President is not giving the press anywhere to go with the story.

Mr. Jordan would have been better off to admit his mistake and apologize for his remarks rather than attempting to spin this by making excuses. Until he comes clean and admits both in print and on television that he was wrong both his credibility as well as that of his network will continue to be questioned.

Bloggers are a tenacious bunch. They're not going to give up on this story until Mr. Jordan admits that he was wrong. Does CNN really want to risk what little credibility that they have left over this story?

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