DATE: 2/09/2005 09:39:00 AM
The Why - So why am I so annoyed by what Eason Jordan, Chris Cramer and Nik Gowing have said? What's the big deal, right? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right? Absolutely, but words have consequences, and where you put voice to those words sometimes speaks louder than the statement you're making. Especially if that statement is not true.
Eason Jordan and Chris Cramer have made some astounding accusations against members of the United States military and when called to account for those statements, they hide. Instead of producing evidence to back up their claims, these journalists do what they would never allow a politician in the same situation to do - they say nothing. Journalism has long benefitted from this double standard. Rarely have they been called to account for overblown or false stories, or the outrageous statements they sometimes make when away from a camera.
As a profession, journalists have a great deal of power and responsibility to the public. People trust them. For decades, we have watched as they have abused that trust at times and used their clout to push through personal agendas. When I was in college, a statement some of my journalism professors used to make was that journalism was one of the only jobs in America with constitutional protection. It was given that protection because the founders felt it was important for the government to be held accountable for its actions.
But who holds journalists accountable for their actions and statements? Until recently, no one.
I got involved in this story for a few reasons. One, my father was in the military and I grew up surrounded by people who served in the armed forces. Naturally, I'm a bit protective of those who give up many of the things we take for granted to protect this country. Another reason is because it's just a good story. The adrenaline shot that comes with finding a scoop is like no other.
Finally, it's because while everyone has the right to their own opinion, they don't have the right to their own facts. It looks like Jordan, Cramer and Gowing have been creating stories of military horrors to suit an agenda. No one should be allowed to get away with slandering other people and not expect to be called to account for it. CNN should demand the release of that tape, and should do a bit of self-examination of their foreign correspondants. Bias is one thing - having executives who outright lie is another.