February 08, 2005
THE LONG GAME VS. THE SHORT GAME: Gerard van der Leun thinks that CNN has, for the moment at least, successfully defused the Eason Jordan scandal:
"The Eason Jordan vs The Bloggers match ended its first set today with a high lob set-up from Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post put away by an overhand smash by Mr. Adams of Davos who announced that the videotape of the Davos meeting, in which Jordan claimed the US Military was deliberately killing journalists in Iraq, would not be released to the public. . . . In this world, if it doesn't happen on television it doesn't happen, and without the videotape this will not happen on television."I hate to accuse Gerard of old-media thinking, but I think that's what's going on here. It's true, of course, that without video the story won't get a lot of play on TV. But that's the short game, in which the goal is getting rid of Eason Jordan. Or hanging on to him.
The long game is different, and Jim Geraghty gets it:
What we need from the Davos conference organizers is simple - the tape of what Jordan said. It would be good to get the entire event, but really, what is at issue here is what Jordan said, and how much he backtracked.
posted at 03:14 PM by Glenn Reynolds
If the Davos organizers refuse to release it, and CNN refuses to call for its release, and the BBC refuses to call for its release, and every other news agency refuses to call for its release...
...then remember this, the next time the media gets up on a high horse about the public's right to know. Remember this the next time Dick Cheney has a meeting with energy executives. Remember this the next time reporters complain about Bush not holding enough press conferences, and not doing enough interviews. Remember this the next time they talk about the
importance of a free press, and an informed citizenry.
Because it's all conditional. None of this applies when the situation includes a media executive
says something in a big forum that he later realizes he doesn't want the public to hear. Then all of a sudden, none of this matters, because it's bad form for other news agencies to look into the story if he wants it to go away. "Bad manners, old chap. We journalists have to stick together."
You don't need TV for those ideas to spread. And when they do -- and they are -- getting rid of Eason Jordan doesn't matter so much. Because neither does Eason Jordan. On the other hand, if the Eason Jordans of the world are all untrustworthy, self-interested boobs, and seen as such, it's going to be hard to sustain public support for press freedom. Unless, perhaps, enough people are blogging that the public sees its own face on "press freedom" and not the likes of Eason Jordan's.