Monday, February 14, 2005

Missing the point

I had another topic all picked out, darn it. Oh well.

Eason Jordan has resigned from CNN. When I heard the news, via Instapundit Friday evening if I recall, the first thing I did was to email Megan McArdle (yes, we have the same last name - weird, eh?), a.k.a. Jane Galt, at Asymmetric Information, my favorite blog, and then... the realization hit.

While fully acknowledging the lack of perspective in this statement, I have to say it anyway: It was like the day Saddam Hussein's regime suddenly collapsed. At that time, I was first overjoyed at our success - and then a niggling anxiety tickled the base of my spine: did I really understand what was going on? Did we? I have since concluded that, in the main, "we," the US military, did understand. But I did not. In this case, Jordan's resignation is just as out of proportion to the attacks on his statement, and I have a similar niggling anxiety: what game is CNN playing? They could have simply asked Davos to release the tape. They didn't. Why not?

I'm not tearing my hair and crying "conspiracy theory!", I promise. All I'm saying is, what has CNN accomplished by getting rid of Jordan? Was his resignation already in the works - had he been too hot to handle for a while and they were just looking for an excuse? Or (or possibly "And") do they have an overall strategery to do their part to discredit bloggers on behalf of the MSM, while simultaneously unloading someone who was no longer an asset? (It was Jordan, after all, who revealed in the pages of the NYT that CNN had deliberately failed to report on Saddam's atrocities in order to maintain its access in Baghdad. I have to wonder whether some at CNN might have preferred that information to stay under wraps.)

In any event, MSM outlets reporting on the Jordan resignation are largely missing the point. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit brought to his readership's attention the comments of Steve Lovelady, managing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review Daily Web site, by quoting from this column by Michelle Malkin in the NY Post. According to Malkin, Lovelady "blasted Jordan's Internet critics in an e-mail to New York University professor Jay Rosen's blog PressThink: 'The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail'" (Lovelady's comments in the original are available via the NY Post link). So far I've heard no dissenting voice from the MSM - they all rue the day blogs came online and envision bloggers (at least conservative bloggers) as ignorant parvenus drinking beer - out of the can - at the cocktail party that is Journalism. A poor analogy, because journalists seem to take their profession veddy veddy seriously, but there you have it.

That's not it at all. Journalists are experts on nothing. They're the Seinfelds of life. I mean no particular disrespect: Seinfeld was a funny show, and generalists tend to be more interesting people than specialists, in my book. But what the journalistic community has before it here is a willing pool of honest-to-God experts, with credentials and opinions they aren't afraid to state, and if the journalists don't abuse them, their reporting could benefit significantly from bloggers' contributions, properly vetted. Journalists could be establishing new contacts, testing the waters of public opinion in subject-dedicated blogs, floating story ideas and points of view, gaining background... but instead they're throwing up ad hominem barricades.

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