Posted from the U.S
I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph.
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn't notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They'd seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords.
I saw a film today oh boy
The English Army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
but I just had to look
Having read the book.
I'd love to turn you on
Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream
I read the news today oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.
I'd love to turn you on
(from "A Day In The Life", Lennon/McCartney)
I am not sure what to say, and it will probably take a few days for better words to emerge. It is one thing to be around ground zero, and quite another to be ground zero, to have been the other half of a what has become a global chain reaction. Eason Jordan, of course, has been the yin to my yang (or is it the other way around)? The last few weeks have felt like an epic, widescreen, pitched battle, with the uncontrollable blog swarm Huns overrunning the decaying Rome which is the mainstream media. Having breached the gates, one of the Ceasers is toppled. Inside the temples, the great works, the Huns set about to pillage. The priests quake, shout. There is great confusion. The world is a new, different place. There is a frightening speed to which this occurred, and a revolutionary tone colors it all.
My role? I can not claim to have been on the sideline of the avalanche, having accidentally set it off with the toss of a snowball. I rode in the with the blogger Huns, pointing out weaknesses in the gates of Rome, breaching it with all of them. My voice is not loud enough. I am wielding a sword, but it is not the sword which I hope prevails. It is the book which I am wielding in my other hand, the book of Rome restored, of its ideals which have far decayed. Has this Rome ever existed, this Rome of truth, ethics, morality, fairness, and justice? Or has this Rome always been corrupt, amoral, a fourth estate as rotten as the others?
Is there a revolution underway? There is no doubt. It is fueled by the internet, blogs, open source software, and free thinking technology. It is a revolution whose face appears in many ways. The music industry has been rocked by it, the film industry soon will be, and the media has just felt a significant tremor. This will touch politics, governance, practically every aspect of our lives. There will soon be over 2 billion people on the planet with mobile phones capable of interacting on the web, sending and receiving text, images, video, and voice - anywhere, anytime, almost instantly. This is just the beginning.
I am unnerved by what has happened, at the ferocity of the blog swarm, of Eason's fumbled retreats, evasive maneuvers, and an inexplicable refusal to have his own words played back to the world on a videotape (which does exist). The head of the largest news organization in the world, afraid of himself. There is a Shakespearean sense of tragedy and drama in this story. Eason, prince of CNN, committs a last act of valor and attempts to restore grace to himself and his overlords. His actions are classic Bushido, the way of the Samurai warrior, sacrificing himself to protect his Masters from harm. Give him at least this.
Why Eason retreated and evaded and hid behind a web of spin is a mystery to me. This outcome is not what I had believed was ideal. I truly believed that Eason, a classic Davos man, would answer my challenge with his army of reporters and produce something to defend what he so strongly and passionately originally asserted. The man had access to a vast network of reporters all over the Middle East and Iraq. The cry for evidence, data, support, remained practically silent (save a few random bloggers researching on their own and the movie WMD:Weapons of Mass Deception, whose creator is possibly not the greatest spokesman for Eason's defense). Where was the Left? Where was Michael Moore, riding in on his horse? What happened here? The defense was spin, chaff, doublespeak, and Orwellian invocations of obscure early 20th century policies designed to protect the powerful. The Left that Eason represented is dying, and its carcass already stinks. The ideals of social liberty, freedom, humanity - need new voices, new leaders. These are serious matters currently promoted by people deep in corruption, self-promotion, and disarray. Where is our Bob Dylan, our John Lennon, our prophets of outrage? Eason Jordan? John Kerry? Hilary Clinton? Where is our Woody Guthrie, Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln? But the Right should not rest easy - the same forces that have taken down Eason will one day point that way - there is no doubt. This is no victory for the Right, because this is not a victory. The blog swarm simply is. It is a force, like nature, with no real political morality or scalable control at this point. It will give as easily as it will take.
This is a hollow outcome in many ways, and one must ask if justice was served. Will this form of justice be applied with an even hand to all, no matter what political persuasion or leaning? What leader of the Right will go down in a similar manner, because no one on the Right or Left is infallible. None of us are. Media leaders must be terrified at what has happened here - will they limit the speech of their organizations now, and retreat even further? That would be a terrible wrong. Freedom of speech, of information, must be protected, even widened. Will professors cease speaking their views out of fear that a random student will topple them and their department?
The lesson to be learned here is not that speech or expression should be limited. The lesson is one of conviction and the power of words. If Eason Jordan held to his original assertions, even without data, but called out that he was in the midst of a deep news investigation which would soon yield ripe fruit, he would still have his job. But that is not what happened. He had no hard facts, no substance. He was caught, in some sense, doing his job. Not his job delivering objective news, but his job as a corporate executive, feeding his target audience what they want to believe, and maybe what he truly felt. He was in his element, his home turf, in an environment of palpable anti-American feelings and sentiment. He was building his brand, and never expected to be called hard on his own words, challenged intensely and publicly when among elite friends. That is not the Davos way. In the old Rome, he would have been safe, nestled in its walls. But in this decaying Rome, the Huns have entered Rome. What is Google, whose founders were the toast of Davos, if not a gateway to a vast new world? Civilized Huns, but Huns nonetheless. The persistence, speed, exponential growth, and unanticipated power of free information is beyond comprehension for most people. The speed of revolution is now linked to Moore's Law, in some way we do not understand. No corrupt leader, politician, dictator, or despot can rest easy anymore. Eason Jordan was not really any of these - he was an executive doing his job, catering to his market, caught in what is becoming a massive change in the way the world functions. Caught in a grass roots demand for more honesty, more truth, more equity - and much less B.S. Caught in change itself.
A caution: technology is no replacement for ethics, morality, compassion, and humanity. Technology will not save us, make us free, or transform us to become better humans. Technology will not make the world a better place. The Nazi application of technology had nightmarish consequences. In the 21st century far worse things can occur. The blogging world, as one example, could be harnessed for great harm. We must work very hard to establish moral, ethical, and human principles into the mindset of bloggers, especially those influential leaders of the packs. It is very easy to become drunk with one's own sudden power, to become the dragon one hopes to slay. We are at that moral line now, at a key inflection point, and now is the time to collectively build a conscience to a very powerful, disruptive technology.
Eason Jordan has resigned. I find no joy in it. I regret nothing that I have said, but one should not celebrate. There is much work ahead, and the time is short. I remain disturbed, with many questions, few answers, and observing a quickening pace of change that at this point has no soul. The Huns have breached the gates. Are we founding fathers, or simply a force of destruction? Who will be Jefferson in the time of Attila?