Posted from the U.S.
(Reprinted from the original posting on www.forumblog.org on February 6, 2005)
In the plainest language possible:
* "Don't try and raise the issue to one of "blogosphere ethics" ? Hmmm. Ethics regarding responsible speech is why we are discussing Eason at all. Eason made some serious accusations, backpedaled quickly, and is in some very hot water. Ethics and a responsibility to the verifiable truth is why the water is boiling. I agree with Hugh Hewitt that MSM (mainstream media) ethics are being put to a real test here, but I also firmly believe that blogger ethics matter equally, if not more. We should not simply oust the old king and put in a new one just as corrupt. The bloggers should be a model of journalistic ethics and shame the MSM into a new model of behavior and standards.
* Of course both sides (left and right) should be held to the same standards. Ignoring Eason and attacking General Mattis alone is unfair and biased.
* The comparison to Bush or other leaders is about influencing or swaying a mass audience to achieve a goal that you or your interests desire. However, the Bush analogy will go nowhere here. Fine. How about a softball: Michael Moore's Farenheit 911. Freedom of speech? Journalism? Art? Satire? He sure makes a whole bunch of damning remarks and insinuations about many people, clearly feeding his audience. Eason is on track to losing his job, while Moore wins awards at Cannes. Eason is heading to the stake because he is perceived as having a cloak of objectivity, while Moore is already seen as being "out there". Both however, influence the thoughts and behaviors of a mass audience, as do their analogues on the right and in the center. What if Eason claimed that CNN is audience driven "infotainment", and not objective news? My point: if Eason becomes an example, will the same standards be applied by those asking for Eason's head now, regardless if the person is from the left, center, or right? Why does this matter? Because the blog swarm that rips into Eason's hide now will remember these changing times and rip into any side, regardless of left, center, or right persuasion. Be prepared to hand over the heads of beloved partisan leaders in the future. This relatively new blog driven process of accountability, personified here as Easongate, merits some introspection, lest it only be the 21st century equivalent of a hangin' party.
* "It is about whether a senior American news executive can slander the people who are fighting --and dying or being wounded-- and do so without consequence". This is a big component (I agree with Hugh here), but not the only.
It was a sad day when an unknown outsider (myself) had to first intervene and challenge Eason to defend America from such a slander, when plenty of big media and major American political leaders were in the room. I can easily imagine Eason getting away with all of it. But there are some voices in the blogosphere, independant of Eason, who are saying that something has happened to journalists on both sides in Iraq and the issue is not so clean. Amy Goodman interviews media critic and filmaker Danny Schechter about "fishy deaths of unembedded reporters", and a movie about this topic is coming out now. Schechter says: "What's also outrageous is that the American media companies did not demand an investigation of this, did not join Reuters in demanding an investigation. So it just wasn't just complicity and collusion in the coverage of the war but a refusal to get involved in an effort to try to find out what really happened, what the facts were. To try to get at the truth of what happened to their own people. That to me compounds the shock of the way in which the media played the role it did."
There are more datapoints than Eason. While he has lost credibility in his role (where's the objective data?), are these people also liars? Is Schechter fabricating everything? The question goes beyond Eason and his own blunders.
I'll give credit to Hugh Hewitt and others for staying focused on the near term story (Eason Jordan) that will likely soon have a satisfying outcome for some. Hugh is leading a credible, direct charge and is rallying the right and center and will soon become a media folk hero (he may be to some already). As for me, I'm fishing in deeper waters, taking a longer term view. This is a difficult position to understand: Eason has not been able to (to date) verify with objective data what he said, and that does not bode well for him, in his role. But the ghost of what he said lingers out there, and others are asking some hard questions. In the way that the right is damning MSM for not following up on Eason, Schechter damns them as well, for not having the courage to investigate the facts about what has happened to "their own people".