CNN exec can finally report

This is really interesting. It illustrates just a fraction of the effect that a brutal regime has on the freedoms of its people by merely relating what CNN has kept under wraps for up to a decade, only utterable once Saddam was truly removed from power:

To me, it’s remarkable that the status of a single man, effectively, can trigger a deluge of information previously held back by sustained mortal fear. One can only guess that we’ll hear a lot worse.

This whole thing is causing quite a bit of a stir in journalism circles. Glenn Reynolds referred to it today as “CNN’s journalistic Enron.” Robert Seagal interviewed Eason Jordan on All Things Considered this afternoon, but wasn’t nearly as tough on him as I thought he should have been. A lot of other people are, though.

James Glassman

Jonah Goldberg at NRO

TNR

TNR has a specific reason to call Jordan on the carpet, given his public criticism of Franklin Foer’s excellent “Air War” article in TNR last year about this very issue. Jordan has a lot of explaining to do.

Just for reference, “journalistic circles” would be something like Romensko’s media News. The given links are more of “conservative circles.” Except for TNR, which is a special “you lying fuck, we wrote about this” circle.

It’s a big story though, yes.

Yeah, I’ve (not surprisingly) read each of Bruce’s sources as well. It’s an interesting ethical argument and I’m not inclined to be quite as harsh as Goldberg and Glassman. Did he have information that was substantially more powerful than government sources that were being shared with the public? Is there a good reason to maintain a journalistic presence despite the fact that not everything can be reported? There are obviously instances of plainly false information being reported, which is bad news (ha!). But at least you can say Jordan’s priorities were reasonably straight in that he protected his reporters and sources. I’d be interested to hear other people’s take on this interesting conundrum.

Glassman’s argument seems to be that if Jordan and CNN had reported on the atrocities that Hussein’s regime may have been toppled even sooner. Does anyone honestly believe that? Is it somehow shocking to learn that the Iraq of the past 20 years has been a nightmare world of torture and inhumanity? Did anyone not know this already in throughout the 90s? I remember reading articles on Uday and his thuggish brother in Maxim for crying out loud. What CNN failed to report certainly qualifies as news, but it was already widely known for years before that.

This is an extremely difficult ethical dilemma that I don’t have an answer to, but it seems to me that CNN’s quietism does not count as the sort of moral complicity that Glassman and other critics suggest.

Well, for the first two atrocities, CNN keeping their mouth shut makes sense:

CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.

If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting.

Maybe in general they should have stayed out of the region or something? I don’t know.

I dunno, I’m much more worried about the ramifications of this:

Pravda means Truth!

Well that explains the Iraqi deathrays.