The Israelis say they’re actually trying to restrict our access to these areas and they say it’s too dangerous for you to be there and my response to that is that it wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous if you didn’t shoot at us when we’re clearly labelled as CNN crews and journalists. And so this must stop, this targeting of the news media both literally and figuratively must come to an end immediately. Eason Jordan
Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff. For example, in the mid-1990’s one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government’s ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency’s Iraq station chief. 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. Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers. We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. 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. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails). Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan’s monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed the threat as a madman’s rant. A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed. I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us. (…) Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for »crimes, » one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family’s home. I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein’s regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely. Eason Jordan (2003)
The only CNN journalist wounded in that region was Ben Wedeman, who got shot when he wandered into a crossfire. [Jordan’s] own producer, Bruce Conover, told CNN that no one could tell who shot him, as the bullets and mortars were flying in from all directions. Ed Morrisey
[Eason Jordan] made a mistake. I did not think he deserved to lose his job over it. A little context is important. He had just come back from Baghdad, 16th trip. We were on the eve of the elections there. He was extremely tense, because he thought a CNN journalist as well as other journalists were in great danger there, and he was — he praised U.S. troops for protecting CNN journalists and others, but he said, look, this is a place where we lost 63 journalists on all sides, and journalists on all sides are being — are getting killed often carelessly — and he used the word targeting. And certainly left the impression that U.S. troops were targeting journalists on the other side — Al Jazeera, for example — just as insurgents were clearly targeting American journalists. And it was a startling charge, and I think everybody in the room sort of, you know, their head swerved. But as soon as he said it, it was clear he knew he had made a mistake. He had gone too far. Used — he’d been — his emotions I think just got the better of him. And he tried to walk it back. And he tried to be — clarify it. But soon it was on the blog, and frankly, the — it just — the story just built up. David Gergen
On est allé à une conférence de presse, puis on a cherché à l’interviewer, l’interview ne s’est pas faite. Alors, on est rentré à Paris. Je ne me suis absolument pas occupé du montage de cette conférence de presse. Régis [Faucon] l’a fait… J’ai lancé le sujet comme une conférence de presse. Lui l’avait monté comme une interview. PPDA (février 199
Dans le jargon de la profession, les « ménages » désignent notamment les prestations des journalistes qui mettent leur notoriété au service de l’animation de débats en tous genres [congrès, conventions, séminaires, etc.]. Acrimed
Un journaliste digne de ce nom tient la calomnie, les accusations sans preuves, l’altération des documents, la déformation des faits, le mensonge pour les plus graves fautes professionnelles; (…) ne touche pas d’argent dans un service public ou une entreprise privée où sa qualité de journaliste, ses influences, ses relations seraient susceptibles d’être exploitées … La charte des devoirs professionnels des journalistes français
Respecter la vérité et le droit que le public a de la connaître constitue le devoir primordial du journaliste ; (…) le journaliste ne rapportera que les faits dont il/elle connaît l’origine, ne supprimera pas les informations essentielles et ne falsifiera pas de documents ; (…) Le journaliste s’efforcera par tous les moyens de rectifier toute information publiée et révélée inexacte et nuisible (…) Fédération internationale des journalistes
Après le Wikiscanner, ce moteur de recherche qui permet de débusquer les entreprises, organismes ou personnalités qui modifient en douce leurs notices Wikipedia …
Voici, sur le site American thinker (Randal Hoven), la liste des journalistes (63, dont quelques universitaires, politiciens ou activistes) pris en flagrant délit de faute professionnelle et pour la plupart mis à pied! (merci RTSR-Watch)
Et si on y retrouve bien Dan Rather (NBC), Eason Jordan (CNN) et même Walter Duranty (NYT) …
Pas de trace en revanche de nos …
– Patrice De Beer et JC Pomonti pour leurs panégyriques du début des années 70 sur les (futurs) génocidaires khmers rouges et pour lesquels Le Monde s’est, fait rarissime (même 30 ans après), fendu d’un (demi)-mea culpa
– PPDA (fausse interview de Castro pour TFI en 1991, condamné pour abus de biens sociaux dans l’Affaire Botton en 1996)
– Charles Enderlin (faux reportage, pour la chaine d’Etat France 2, sur le petit Mohammed Al Dura en sept. 2000)
– Sara Daniel (faux reportage, pour le Nouvel Observateur de son papa, sur de prétendus viols de jeunes Palestiniennes par des soldats israéliens).
– Pascal Riché (colportage de fausses rumeurs – de viols notamment pour Libération – pendant l’Ouragan Katrina de septembre 2005)
Sans oublier bien sûr notre Thierry Meyssan national et coqueluche des téléthons arabes pour la solution finale comme des grands raouts pacfistes et antimondialistes, fournisseur attitré de combustible pour notre antiaméricanisme national.
« Journaliste non-aligné » et président-fondateur du Réseau Voltaire, militant de choc des causes du moment, d’abord sexuelles (homosexuels, transsexuels, IVG), puis anti-religieuses (l’Opus Dei, le Pape: « Terrorisme en soutane : Jean-Paul II contre l’IVG ») et anti-extrême-droite.
Mais aussi politicien de choc (Secrétaire national du Parti radical de gauche depuis 1994 où il fait campagne pour les affairistes-politiciens (Tapie) ou la célèbre couleuse de Jospin aux présidentielles de 2002 et spécialiste des lois de purification historique (Taubira).
Et surtout bien sûr démonteur d’effroyables impostures (« L’Effroyable imposture », 2002, sur le 11 septembre + « L’Effroyable imposture 2 », 2007, sur la 2e guerre du Liban et « Le Pentagate », 2002, suite de « l’enquête » sur le 11/9 avec son acolyte Pierre-Henri Bunel, ex-officier de l’armée française ayant apparemment travaillé dans le renseignement et condamné pour trahison au profit des Serbes pendant la guerre du Kosovo).
Ainsi que nos bataillons de grands reporters spécialistes es complots et hagiographies de tout ce que la planète peut compter de tyrans et tyranneaux…
Nos Eric Laurent, ex-journaliste du Figaro et « spécialiste », pour France Culture, de politique internationale et des « faces cachées » et autres « mondes » et « dossiers » secrets » (versions filmées comprises avec son compère William Karel):
– La Face cachée du pétrole, 2006
– La face cachée du 11 septembre, 2004
– Le monde secret de Bush, 2003 : la religion, les affaires, les réseaux occultes
– La Guerre des Bush, 2003 (relations de la famille Bush avec l’entourage de Ben Laden et avec Saddam Hussein)
– Le génie de la modération : réflexions sur les vérités de l’islam, 2000 (écrit avec le roi Hassan II)
– Guerre au Kosovo, le dossier secret, 2000
– Henri Konan Bédié, les chemins de ma vie, 1999 (écrit avec ex-président ivoirien)
Et, last but not least, nos grands reporters occasionnels:
Nos Tintins-philosophes à la Foucault qui, tous frais payés par le Nouvel observateur, joua, on s’en souvient, les pompom girls pour la Révolution islamique de 1979.
Ou nos militants multicartes (Confédération paysanne, Attac), démonteurs de Mc Donald’s, arracheurs d’OGM, candidats à la présidentielle à la José Bové qui au retour de Ramallah accusa le Mossad d’être non derrière le 11/9 (ça avait déjà été fait – voir plus haut) mais des incendies de synagogues françaises (« Il faut se demander à qui profite le crime. Je dénonce tous les actes visant les lieux de culte. Mais je crois que le gouvernement israélien et ses services secrets ont intérêt à créer une certaine psychose, à faire croire qu’un climat antisémite s’est installé en France pour mieux détourner les regards. », cité par Thomas Hoffnung, Libération, 3 avril 2002)
Mais il faudrait naturellement aussi donner toute leur place à quatre institutions du journalisme à la française :
– l’agence de presse d’Etat AFP, le grossiste qui fournit tout ce beau monde en matière première
– la radio internationale RFI co-financée par le Quai d’Orsay (et son fameux et éphémère – 3 mois en 2004 – directeur Alain Ménargues, dont on se souvient, après son « scoop » de la participaion directe d’un commando israélien au massacre de Sabra et Chatila (dans son « enquête » de 2002: « Secrets de la guerre du Liban »), de la mémorable présentation, sur Radio-Courtoisie, de son livre sur le « Mur de Sharon » en octobre 2004 (« J’ai été très choqué par le Mur, j’ai été voir des gens, des rabbins, des hommes politiques, si vous regardez le Lévitique dans la Torah, qu’est-ce que c’est ? La séparation du pur et de l’impur. Un Juif pour pouvoir prier doit être pur, tout ce qui vient contrarier cette pureté doit être séparé (…) Lisez le Lévitique, c’est écrit en toutes lettres. Quel a été le premier ghetto au monde ? Il était à Venise. Qui est-ce qui l’a créé? C’est les Juifs mêmes pour se séparer du reste. Après l’Europe les a mis dans des ghettos. »)
– avec la petite dernière Télé-Chirak, France 24
– le Canard enchainé lui-même qui, entre deux déballages de linge sale ou réglements de compte, joue souvent le bulletin paroissial du Quai d’Orsay ou de la DGSE
– le Monde diplodocus, bible de la gauche radicale avec, derrière son directeur et hagiographe officiel de Castro Ignacio Ramonet et son rédacteur-en-chef Alain Gresh, les journalistes Michel Warschawski et Serge Halimi, la cinéaste Simone Bitton, le médecin et ancien président de Médecins sans frontières Rony Brauman, le journaliste Uri Avnery et l’historien post-sioniste Ilan Pappé …
Il y a, on le voit, de quoi faire (et on n’a même pas parlé des chercheurs-faussaires à la Pascal Boniface!) pour montrer à ces arrogants Américains qu’ils n’ont pas le monopole des journalistes véreux.
A vos souris donc!
It’s Not Just Scott Beauchamp
August 16, 2007
« Matt Drudge’s role in the Monica Lewinski scandal] strikes me as a new and graphic power of the Internet to influence mainstream journalism. And I suspect that over the next couple of years that impact will grow to the point where it will damage journalism’s ability to do its job professionally, to check out information before publication, to be mindful of the necessity to publish and broadcast reliable, substantiated information. » — Marvin Kalb in 1998
Scott Beauchamp was the last straw. I realized that I need a scorecard to keep track of all the fallen journalists, journalistic mistakes and major and minor screw-ups in the media. I couldn’t find one already made, although Wikipedia came close, so I started my own. I apologize if there is a good list already out there, but I looked and could not find.
Offenses include lying and fabricating, doctoring photos, plagiarism, conflicts of interest, falling for hoaxes, and overt bias. Some are hilarious, such as an action figure doll being mistaken for a real soldier. Some are silly, such as reporting on a baseball game watched on TV. Some are more serious.
I leave it to you to judge whether the internet damaged « journalism’s ability to do its job professionally », as Marvin Kalb accuses, or if the internet has in fact helped expose an already damaged « profession ».
I doubt if my list is comprehensive, but I think it’s a good start. So that I’m not accused of plagiarism myself, I would like to give credit to Wikipedia for many of the entries on this list. And all the information below can be found with a little internet searching; I just could not find it all in one place. I do give at least one source for each item, embedded in the text.
1. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press (2005). Lying/fabricating. In his sports column, he described alumni players at a basketball game who were not even there.
2. Stephen Ambrose, historian/author (2002). Plagiarism. He was almost a book « factory », writing eight books in five years. But that apparently came easier when parts were copied from other books, without attribution.
3. Associated Press (AP) (2005). Fell for hoax and phony photo. The AP ran a story, with a photo, about a soldier held hostage in Iraq. The photo turned out to be that of an action figure doll; there was no such soldier.
4. Mike Barnicle, Boston Globe (1998). Lying/fabricating and plagiarism. Totally made up stories, including one about a black kid and a white kid with cancer. Also used quotes from George Carlin as his own. Fired from the Boston Globe.
5. Maria Bartiromo, CNBC (2007). Conflict of interest. She dated a Citicorp executive and received special treatment from him, and also owned stock in Citicorp while doing financial reporting for CNBC, including reporting on Citicorp.
6. Scott Beauchamp, The New Republic (2007). Lying. TNR hired this U.S. Army private and husband of one of its own reporters to write first-hand accounts from Iraq. One of his accounts, supposedly demonstrating the dehumanizing effects of the Iraq war on him and fellow soldiers, occurred in Kuwait before Beauchamp even entered Iraq. Other parts of his writing are likely false, and if not, constitute military crimes on his part. In fact, his anonymous writing from a war zone is likely against military rules. This story is currently unfolding.
7. Nada Behziz, The Bakersfield Californian (2005). Lying/fabricating and plagiarism. Writing mostly on health issues, she plagiarized from the New York Times and AP, made up sources, and got basic facts wrong. An investigation counted 29 fabricated or plagiarized articles. She also lied on her resume. She was fired.
8. Michael Bellesiles, professor of history, author of Arming America and recipient of Columbia University’s Bancroft Prize. Lying/fabricating. He made « myth shattering » claims about the history of guns in America that were based on fabricated historical records. He resigned from Emory University.
9. Joe Biden, U.S. Senator and candidate for President (1988). Plagiarism. He withdrew from the 1988 presidential race after being discovered « delivering, without attribution, passages from a speech by British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock… a serious plagiarism incident involving Biden during his law school years; the senator’s boastful exaggerations of his academic record at a New Hampshire campaign event; and the discovery of other quotations in Biden’s speeches pilfered from past Democratic politicians. » He’s still a Senator, and back in the race for 2008.
10. Jayson Blair, The New York Times (2003). Lying/fabricating. He fabricated parts or all of at least 36 stories. He, along with his bosses Gerald Boyd and Howell Raines, resigned from the NYT.
11. The Boston Globe (2004). Fake photos, fake story. The Boston Globe published pictures alleging U.S. troops raped Iraqi women. The pictures turned out to be commercially available pornography.
12. Paul Bradley Richmond Times-Dispatch (2006). Lying/fabricating. Made up his story on reactions to President Bush’s speech on immigration. He fabricated interviews. He reported on an event in the first person, yet he was not even in the same town. He was fired.
13. Rick Bragg, The New York Times (2003). « Drive-by » reporting. « Bragg’s defense — that it is common for Times correspondents to slip in and out of cities to ‘get the dateline’ while relying on the work of stringers, researchers, interns and clerks — has sparked more passionate disagreement than the clear-cut fraud and plagiarism committed by Blair. The issue, put starkly, is whether readers are being misled about how and where a story was reported. » He resigned.
14. Fox Butterfield, New York Times (2000). Lying/fabricating and plagiarism. In 2003, a federal jury ruled that « the New York Times and one of its reporters libeled an Ohio Supreme Court justice » in an article published April 13, 2000. The jury found that the article was « not substantially true ». He also « had lifted material from a story in The Boston Globe while reporting, ironically, on plagiarism by a Boston University dean ».
15. Thom Calandra, Marketwatch.com (2005). Conflict of interest. He profited by selling stocks shortly after giving them positive write-ups in his newsletter. The SEC brought suit against him, which was settled.
16. Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President, Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. Lying, plagiarism, bias. His book was so full of errors, including doctored maps, that his chief collaborator, Kenneth Stein of Emory University, resigned his position with the Carter Center. Carter’s book was condemned by Alan Dershowitz and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others.
17. CBS, Dan Rather, Mary Mapes (2004). Fell for fake documents. CBS used forged documents from a non-credible source in claiming George W. Bush received favored treatment in the Air National Guard.
18. Chris Cecil, Cartersville Daily News (2005). Plagiarism. « The associate managing editor of a small Georgia newspaper was fired for plagiarizing articles by a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald, including copying a passage about his mother’s battle with cancer. Chris Cecil, 28, was fired from The Daily Tribune News of Cartersville on Thursday after the Herald pointed out six to eight columns written since March that contained portions from work by Leonard Pitts Jr. »
19. Philip Chien, Wired News (2006). Lying/fabricating. He made up sources and quotes in at least three articles. Wired withdrew the stories.
20. Ward Churchill, Chairman of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado. Lying and plagiarism. He lied about his credentials and ethnic background to get a job in the first place. His « research » was laden with fabricated evidence, plagiarism and referencing his own previous writings under pseudonyms. He is worthy of Mary McCarthy’s quote about Lillian Hellman: « Every word (s)he writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’. » He was fired.
21. CNN, Operation Tailwind, CNN NewsStand (1998). Lying/fabricating. The televised special claimed that the U.S. military used nerve gas in a mission to kill American defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War, but the story had no factual support. CNN later retracted the story.
22. CNN and Eason Jordan (2003). Admitted bias, slanting the news. Eason Jordan, CNN’s news chief, admitted that CNN withheld reporting on Saddam Hussein’s atrocities so as to continue getting favored treatment from Saddam.
23. Janet Cooke, Washington Post (1980-1981), Pulitzer Prize winner. Lying/fabricating. Her series on « Jimmy’s World » about an 8-year-old heroin addict was totally made up.
24. Katie Couric, « Katie Couric’s Notebook, » CBSNews.com (2007). Plagiarism. In the first place, her blog is largely written by someone else. That someone else copied material from The Wall Street Journal, without attribution.
25. The Daily Egyptian (2005). Fell for hoax. This student newspaper wrote a series about the family of a soldier in Iraq who subsequently died, except that the whole thing was made up.
26. Allan Detrich, The Toledo Blade (2007). Doctored photos. He submitted 79 photographs that were altered. « The changes Mr. Detrich made included erasing people, tree limbs, utility poles, electrical wires, electrical outlets, and other background elements from photographs. In other cases, he added elements such as tree branches and shrubbery. » He resigned.
27. Stephen Dunphy, Seattle Times associate editor and business columnist (2004). Plagiarism. He used significant quotes (e.g., seven paragraphs at a time) from other sources on multiple occasions. He resigned.
28. Walter Duranty, The New York Times (1930s), Pulitzer Prize winner. Lying. This man visited Stalin’s Russia and wrote that nothing untoward was happening there — no famine, etc. In fact, up to 10 million people died in the Ukraine famine. His writings matched Russian propaganda almost exactly. His Pulitzer Prize still stands.
29. Joseph Ellis, professor at Mount Holyoke College and historian/author (2001), Pulitzer Prize winner. Lying. He falsely claimed military service in Vietnam and incorporated his war « experiences » into his college courses on « The Vietnam War and American Culture ». Mount Holyoke censured him and suspended him without pay for one year.
30. Jacob Epstein, novelist (1980). Plagiarism. « Jacob Epstein, responding to charges that he had plagiarized from Martin Amis’s The Rachel Papers for his first novel, Wild Oats, has apologized, admitting that he had indeed copied passages and images from Mr. Amis, and from other writers, as well. »
31. Diana Griego Erwin , Sacramento Bee (2005), lying/fabricating. The Bee was « unable to verify the existence of 43 people she named in her columns ». She resigned.
32. Hassan Fattah, New York Times (2006). Fell for a hoax. Did a front page story about the man in one of the famous Abu Ghraib photos. But it turned out that the man who claimed to be the one in the picture, who provided details for the story, was not the one in the picture at all.
33. James Forlong, Sky News (2003). Fake story, fake footage. He presented footage from a missile test as actual combat in Iraq. He subsequently committed suicide.
34. Jay Forman, Slate (2001). Fake story. He wrote an article describing the fictitious sport of Monkey Fishing as real. Slate later published an apology and admitted details were fictitious.
35. James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces, Oprah Book Club. Lying. Virtually the entire « nonfiction memoir » of his vomit-caked years as an alcoholic, drug addict, and criminal was fabricated.
36. Michael Gallagher, The Cincinnati Enquirer (1998). Information theft. « Mike Gallagher had illegally tapped into Chiquita’s voice mail system and used information he obtained as a result in stories questioning Chiquita’s business practices in Latin America. » The paper agreed to pay Chiquita Brands International over $10 million and run an apology on the front page three times.
37. Stephen Glass, The New Republic (1998). Lying. « Glass, a 25-year-old rising star at The New Republic, wrote dozens of high-profile articles for a number of national publications in which he made things up…he made up people, places and events. He made up organizations and quotations. Sometimes, he made up entire articles. And to back it all up, he created fake notes, fake voicemails, fake faxes, even a fake Web site – whatever it took to deceive his editors, not to mention hundreds of thousands of readers. » He was fired.
38. Jacqueline Gonzalez, San Antonio Express News (2007). Plagiarism. She admitted « she used, without attribution, information from a Web site for a Christmas Day column. Later research uncovered further examples of plagiarism in two other columns. »
39. Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian/author (2002). Plagiarism. Large portions of her book, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, were lifted from multiple other sources without attribution. She took a leave of absence from PBS.
40. Adnan Hajj, Reuters (2006). Doctored photos. He doctored dozens of pictures of the 2006 Lebanon-Israel conflict. Reuters later withdrew all 920 of his photos from sale.
41. Alex Haley (1977) , Pulitzer Prize winning author of Roots. Plagiarism. He settled a lawsuit for $650,000, admitting that large passages of Roots were copied from the book The African by Harold Courlander.
42. Mark Halperin, ABC News (2004). Admitted bias. He wrote a memo to news staff telling them to hold George Bush to a stricter standard than John Kerry: « Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and makes] mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win. We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn’t mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides ‘equally’ accountable when the facts don’t warrant that. »
43. Jack Hitt, New York Times (2006). Lying, or at least really sloppy research. He wrote a story about a woman in El Salvador who was sentenced to prison for having an abortion when she was 18 weeks pregnant. It turned out that « her child was carried to term, was born alive and died in its first minutes of life. » In short, her crime was infanticide, not abortion.
44. Houston Chronicle, Light Rail Controversy (2002). Admitted bias. An internal memo outlined how the paper would promote the light rail project in Houston and do research into Tom Delay and other light rail opponents. That would be creating the news rather than reporting it.
45. Eason Jordan, CNN (2005). False accusations. He accused U.S. forces in Iraq of deliberately targeting and killing journalists. He apologized and resigned.
46. Jack Kelley , USA Today (2004). Lying. USA Today concluded of « the star » of its news staff: « Jack Kelley’s dishonest reporting dates back at least as far as 1991. »
47. Jesse MacBeth, anti-war star (2006). Lying/fabricating. « Jesse MacBeth stoked opposition to the Iraq war in 2006 when he spoke out about atrocities he committed as a U.S. Army Ranger serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. MacBeth, 23, of Tacoma, claimed to have killed more than 200 people, many at close range, some as they prayed in a mosque. He spoke at an anti-war rally in Tacoma and appeared in a 20-minute anti-war video that circulated widely on the Internet. Trouble is, none of MacBeth’s claims was true. »
48. Rigoberto Menchu, author of I, Rigoberto (1983), Nobel Peace Prize winner (1992). Lying/fabricating. She claimed her autobiographical book « is the story of all poor Guatemalans. My personal experience is the reality of a whole people. » However, « Menchú augmented her own story with that of the Indians of Guatemala generally, reporting experiences she either did not have or could not have witnessed and misrepresenting the violent history of her area of Guatemala to support her own cause as a Guatemalan guerrilla organizer. »
49. Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher (2006). Lying. He admitted to fabricating a story in his younger reporting days.
50. NBC, Waiting to Explode segment on Dateline NBC (1992). Faking evidence and footage. NBC demonstrated the explosive danger of GM trucks’ gas tanks by showing one actually explode in what appeared to be normal circumstances. « NBC said the truck’s gas tank had ruptured, yet an X ray showed it hadn’t; NBC consultants set off explosive miniature rockets beneath the truck split seconds before the crash — yet no one told the viewers. »
51. Christopher Newton, Associated Press (2002). Lying. « The Associated Press accused Washington bureau reporter Christopher Newton of journalistic fraud last month and sacked him. The AP alleges that in at least 40 of the many hundred stories Newton wrote for the wire service between Jan. 13, 2000, and Sept. 8, 2002, Newton quoted sources who appear not to exist. »
52. NPR, CNN and others on the « Jenin massacre » (2002). CNN reported: « There’s almost a massacre now taking place in Jenin. Helicopter gun ships are throwing missiles at one square kilometer packed with almost 15,000 people in a refugee camp . . . This is a war crime, clear war crime. » However, the actual « death toll was 56 Palestinians, the majority of them combatants, and 23 Israeli soldiers. »
53. Reuters, Lebanon coverage (2006). Fake/staged photos. A burning tire dump as the scene of an Israeli bombing, Photoshopped bomb smoke, etc. during the Lebanon-Israel conflict.
54. Reuters Russia’s North Pole coverage (2007). More fake photos/footage. « Reuters has been forced to admit that footage it released last week purportedly showing Russian submersibles on the seabed of the North Pole actually came from the movie Titanic. » The mistake was caught by a 13-year-old Finnish boy.
55. Tim Ryan, Honolulu Star-Bulletin (2006). Plagiarism. This entertainment reporter wrote multiple articles with words lifted from other sources without attribution. He was fired.
56. Eric Slater, Los Angeles Times (2005). Inaccuracy and plagiarism. « The LA Times ran a lengthy Editor’s Note that outlines the inaccuracies, ‘substandard’ reporting methods and unverifiable quotes in two stories by reporter Eric Slater. » He was fired.
57. Patricia Smith, Boston Globe (1998), Pulitzer Prize finalist. Lying/fabricating « An award-winning metro columnist for The Boston Globe resigned Thursday after being asked to leave by the paper’s editor, who said she admitted to fabricating people and quotes in four columns this year. » « I attributed quotes to people who didn’t exist. »
58. Barbara Stewart, Boston Globe (2005). Lying/fabricating. « The Boston Globe acknowledged yesterday publishing a partially fabricated story by a freelance reporter about a Canadian seal hunt that had not taken place. »
59. Nina Totenberg, The National Observer (1972). Plagiarism. She was fired by The National Observer for plagiarism. « Totenberg had allegedly lifted several paragraphs from a Washington Post story and dropped them into a piece she was writing about former House Speaker Tip O’Neill for the now-defunct National Observer. » She is currently legal correspondent for NPR.
60. Jim Van Vliet, Sacramento Bee (2005). Misrepresentation and plagiarism. « The reporter watched the game on television at a location away from the stadium. He filed his story without telling editors at The Bee his true location, leaving the impression he covered the game from the ballpark. In addition, it was discovered later that the story included quotes from other media outlets that were unattributed and old, made to reporters on a previous occasion before the day of the game. » He no longer works there.
61. Brian Walski, The Los Angeles Times (2003). Doctored photos. The LA Times admitted that it « published a front-page photograph that had been altered in violation of Times policy. »
62. Bob Wisehart, Sacramento Bee (1994). Plagiarism. « Sacramento Bee editor Gregory Favre fired TV columnist Bob Wisehart the second time he plagiarized. For the first offense, Wisehart got a five-month suspension even though his plagiarism involved hundreds of words taken from Stephen King’s book Danse Macabre for a television column about horror shows. »
I conclude with a few observations.
* These offenses have been going on for years, long before the internet. But there does seems to be a rise in the number of reported offenses in recent years. Did the number of offenses go up, or did the fraction of discovered offenses go up?
* In a good number of these cases, the errors were caught by non-journalists, sometimes communicating over the internet.
* If it is « too good to be true », or just too politically correct to be true, take it with a grain of salt – several grains, apparently, if from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The New Republic, CNN or Reuters.
* The Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize just ain’t all they’re cracked up to be.
* If this is the visible part of the iceberg, just how big is the iceberg?
If I missed any, or if there is a better list out there, let me know.
Randall Hoven is an engineer living in Illinois. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Voir aussi (pour rappel):
Syndicat national des journalistes
La charte des devoirs professionnels des journalistes français
Un journaliste, digne de ce nom,
– prend la responsabilité de tous ses écrits, même anonymes ;
– tient la calomnie, les accusations sans preuves, l’altération des documents, la déformation des faits, le mensonge pour les plus graves fautes professionnelles ;
– ne reconnaît que la juridiction de ses pairs, souveraine en matière d’honneur professionnel ;
– n’accepte que des missions compatibles avec la dignité professionnelle ;
– s’interdit d’invoquer un titre ou une qualité imaginaires, d’user de moyens déloyaux pour obtenir une information ou surprendre la bonne foi de quiconque ;
– ne touche pas d’argent dans un service public ou une entreprise privée où sa qualité de journaliste, ses influences, ses relations seraient susceptibles d’être exploitées ;
– ne signe pas de son nom des articles de réclame commerciale ou financière ;
– ne commet aucun plagiat, cite les confrères dont il reproduit un texte quelconque ;
– ne sollicite pas la place d’un confrère, ni ne provoque son renvoi en offrant de travailler à des conditions inférieures ;
– garde le secret professionnel ;
– n’use pas de la liberté de la presse dans une intention intéressée ;
– revendique la liberté de publier honnêtement ses informations ;
– tient le scrupule et le souci de la justice pour des règles premières ;
– ne confond pas son rôle avec celui du policier.
Paris, Juillet 1918 – révisée en janvier 1938
LES CODES DE DEONTOLOGIE
Fédération internationale des journalistes
Déclaration de Principe de la FIJ sur la Conduite des Journalistes
« La présente déclaration internationale précise les règles de conduite des journalistes dans la recherche, la transition, la diffusion et le commentaire des nouvelles et de l’information et dans la prescription des événements.
1. respecter la vérité et le droit que le public a de la connaître constitue le devoir primordial du journaliste;
2. Conformément à ce devoir, le journaliste défendra, en tout temps, le double principe de la liberté de rechercher et de publier honnêtement l’information, du commentaire et de la critique et le droit au commentaire équitable et à la critique loyale.
3. le journaliste ne rapportera que les faits dont il/elle connaît l’origine, ne supprimera pas les informations essentielles et ne falsifiera pas de documents.
4. Le journaliste n’utilisera que des moyens équitables pour obtenir des informations, des photographies et des documents.
5. Le journaliste s’efforcera par tous les moyens de rectifier toute information publiée et révélée inexacte et nuisible.
6. Le journaliste gardera le secret professionnel concernant la source des informations obtenues confidentiellement.
7. Le journaliste prendra garde aux risques d’une dicrimination propagée par les médias et fera son possible pour éviter de faciliter une telle discrimination, fondée notamment sur la race, le sexe, les moeurs sexuelles, la langue, la religion, les opinions politiques et autres et l’origine national ou sociale.
8. Le journaliste considérera comme fautes professionnelles graves: le plagiat; la distortion malveillante; la calomnie, la médisance, la diffamation, les accusations sans fondement; l’acceptation d’une quelconque gratification en raison de la publication d’une information ou de sa suppression.
9. Tout journaliste digne de ce nom se fait un devoir d’observer strictement les principes énoncés ci-dessus. Reconnaissant le droit connu de chaque pays, le journaliste n’acceptera, en matière professionnelle, que la juridiction de ses pairs, à l’exclusion de tout intrusion gouvernementale ou autre. »
(Adoptée au Congrès mondial de la FIJ en 1954. Amendée au Congrès mondial de 1986.)
Déclaration des droits et des devoirs des journalistes (Munich 1971)
Cette déclaration a été adoptée par une conférence qui réunissait, les 23 et 24 novembre 1971 à Munich, les représentants de la plupart des syndicats de journalistes d’Europe, ainsi que des deux grandes organisations internationales, la FIJ et l’OIJ.
Le droit à l’information, à la libre expression et à la critique est une des libertés fondamentales de tout être humain. De ce droit du public à connaître les faits et les opinions procède l’ensemble des devoirs et des droits des journalistes. La responsabilité des journalistes vis-à-vis du public prime toute autre responsabilité, en particulier à l’égard de leurs employeurs et des pouvoirs publics.
La mission d’information comporte nécessairement des limites que les journalistes eux-mêmes s’imposent spontanément. Tel est l’objet de la déclaration des devoirs formulée ici. Mais ces devoirs ne peuvent être effectivement respectés dans l’exercice de la profession de journaliste que si les conditions concrètes de l’indépendance et de la dignité professionnelle sont réalisées. Tel est l’objet de la déclaration des droits qui suit.
Déclaration des devoirs
Les devoirs essentiels du journaliste dans la recherche, la rédaction et le commentaire des événements sont :
1) – Respecter la vérité, quelles qu’en puissent être les conséquences pour lui-même, et ce, en raison du droit que le public a de connaître la vérité ;
2) – défendre la liberté de l’information, du commentaire et de la critique ;
3) – publier seulement les informations dont l’origine est connue ou dans le cas contraire les accompagner des réserves nécessaires ; ne pas supprimer les informations essentielles et ne pas altérer les textes et documents ;
4) – ne pas user de méthodes déloyales pour obtenir des informations, des photographies et des documents ;
5) – s’obliger à respecter la vie privée des personnes ;
6) – rectifier toute information publiée qui se révèle inexacte ;
7) – garder le secret professionnel et ne pas divulguer la source des informations obtenues confidentiellement ;
8) – s’interdire le plagiat, la calomnie, la diffamation et les accusations sans fondement, ainsi que de recevoir un quelconque avantage en raison de la publication ou de la suppression d’une information ;
9) – ne jamais confondre le métier de journaliste avec celui du publicitaire ou du propagandiste ; n’accepter aucune consigne, directe ou indirecte, des annonceurs ;
10) – refuser toute pression et n’accepter de directive rédactionnelle que des responsables de la rédaction.
Tout journaliste digne de ce nom se fait un devoir d’observer strictement les principes énoncés ci-dessus ; reconnaissant le droit en vigueur dans chaque pays, le journaliste n’accepte en matière d’honneur professionnel que la juridiction de ses pairs, à l’exclusion de toute ingérence gouvernementale ou autre.
Déclaration des droits
1) – Les journalistes revendiquent le libre accès à toutes les sources d’information et le droit d’enquêter librement sur tous les faits qui conditionnent la vie publique. Le secret des affaires publiques ou privées ne peut en ce cas être opposé au journaliste que par exception et en vertu de motifs clairement exprimés.
2) – Le journaliste a le droit de refuser toute subordination qui serait contraire à la ligne générale de l’organe d’information auquel il collabore, telle qu’elle est déterminée par écrit dans son contrat d’engagement, de même que toute subordination qui ne serait pas clairement impliquée par cette ligne générale.
3) – Le journaliste ne peut être contraint à accomplir un acte professionnel ou à exprimer une opinion qui serait contraire à sa conviction ou à sa conscience.
4) – L’équipe rédactionnelle doit être obligatoirement informée de toute décision importante de nature à affecter la vie de l’entreprise. Elle doit être au moins consultée, avant décision définitive, sur toute mesure intéressant la composition de la rédaction : embauche, licenciement, mutation et promotion de journalistes ;
5) – En considération de sa fonction et de ses responsabilités, le journaliste a droit non seulement au bénéfice des conventions collectives, mais aussi à un contrat personnel assurant la sécurité matérielle et morale de son travail ainsi qu’à une rémunération correspondant au rôle social qui est le sien et suffisante pour garantir son indépendance économique.
Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.
For example, in the mid-1990’s one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government’s ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency’s Iraq station chief. 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.
Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers.
We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. 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. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails).
Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan’s monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed the threat as a madman’s rant. A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed.
I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.
Last December, when I told Information Minister Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf that we intended to send reporters to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, he warned me they would »suffer the severest possible consequences. » CNN went ahead, and in March, Kurdish officials presented us with evidence that they had thwarted an armed attack on our quarters in Erbil. This included videotaped confessions of two men identifying themselves as Iraqi intelligence agents who said their bosses in Baghdad told them the hotel actually housed C.I.A. and Israeli agents. The Kurds offered to let us interview the suspects on camera, but we refused, for fear of endangering our staff in Baghdad.
Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for »crimes, » one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family’s home.
I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein’s regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.
CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
February 13, 2005
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST (voice-over): CNN executive Eason Jordan resigns over his remarks on U.S. soldiers killing journalists in Iraq. Was he too slow to apologize? And did bloggers help seal his fate?
Jeff Gannon, who covered the White House for a conservative Web site, quits under fire. Is he a journalist? What about all those talk show hosts and pundits who came from the political world, or still advise politicians? What about a new generation of bloggers? Just who is a journalist anyway?
We’ll ask David Gergen, Bill Press and blogger Jeff Jarvis.
Also, John Dean sparks a media frenzy with a few words about a secret Watergate source. What explains the endless fascination with Deep Throat?
KURTZ: Welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES, where today we turn our critical lens on two dramatic resignations, in which bloggers, both conservative and liberal, played a critical role.
I’m Howard Kurtz.
CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan resigned Friday night, two weeks after sparking a furor over comments he made at a conference in Davos, Switzerland, about U.S. soldiers targeting journalists in Iraq. Jordan says he backed off the statement when challenged, and that his mistake was saying that the military intentionally targeted journalists. Jordan says he never stated, believed or suspected that U.S. military forces intended to kill people they knew to be journalists, and that he apologizes to anyone who thought he said otherwise.
But there are conflicting accounts of how far he backed off at the conference.
The controversy over the remarks raged mostly online, on sites by « National Review » and radio host Hugh Hewitt and others. In the mainstream press, there were a handful of stories, one by me in « The Washington Post, » others in « The Boston Globe, » « Wall Street Journal » and « Miami Herald, » but nothing in « The New York Times, » « Los Angeles Times, » « Chicago Tribune, » « USA Today, » and nothing on CNN itself. Although Jordan was criticized on talk shows on FOX, CNBC and MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: This CNN leader has defamed the honor and integrity of our brave men and women in uniform by reckless charges that were presented in the most cowardly way, behind closed doors in conferences packed by international elites.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Jordan said in a statement he was stepping down from a 23-year career, quote, « to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy. »
Joining us now here in Washington, the moderator of that controversial discussion in Switzerland, David Gergen, columnist for « U.S. News and World Report, » a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and he was a White House aide in four presidential administrations.
In New York, author and commentator Bill Press, a former talk show host at CNN and MSNBC, and one-time chairman of the California Democratic Party.
And Jeff Jarvis, journalist and former magazine editor who writes a blog at BuzzMachine.com.
David Gergen, you were there. What did Eason Jordan say? And did he deserve to lose his job over it?
DAVID GERGEN, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: He made a mistake. I did not think he deserved to lose his job over it.
A little context is important. He had just come back from Baghdad, 16th trip. We were on the eve of the elections there. He was extremely tense, because he thought a CNN journalist as well as other journalists were in great danger there, and he was — he praised U.S. troops for protecting CNN journalists and others, but he said, look, this is a place where we lost 63 journalists on all sides, and journalists on all sides are being — are getting killed often carelessly — and he used the word targeting. And certainly left the impression that U.S. troops were targeting journalists on the other side — Al Jazeera, for example — just as insurgents were clearly targeting American journalists.
And it was a startling charge, and I think everybody in the room sort of, you know, their head swerved. But as soon as he said it, it was clear he knew he had made a mistake. He had gone too far. Used — he’d been — his emotions I think just got the better of him. And he tried to walk it back. And he tried to be — clarify it. But soon it was on the blog, and frankly, the — it just — the story just built up.
KURTZ: And I want to pick up that point with Jeff Jarvis, if I might. Bloggers, particularly conservatives, but not exclusively, just ripping Jordan over this. But most news organizations didn’t touch it. In fact, as far as I know, this is the first time it’s being discussed on CNN, which I think is a mistake given Jordan’s importance and the air time devoted to Dan Rather’s problem. So how did this reach critical mass?
JEFF JARVIS, BUZZMACHINE.COM: Witness the news judgment of the people versus the news judgment of the big guys. Bloggers didn’t want his head, most of us didn’t. We wanted the truth. We wanted to see that transcript from Davos. The issues here are that the gatekeepers are no longer gatekeepers.
The second issue is news of — the speed of news has really changed. You can’t wait 12 days, as Dan Rather did, or as Jordan did, to say something substantive. And finally, off the record is dead. Because now, anyone who is a witness to news can be a reporter, because anyone and everyone has access to the press, to the Internet.
JARVIS: Everyone is a Wolf Blitzer in sheep’s clothing.
KURTZ: The conference was supposed to be off the record, obviously. The Internet made that irrelevant.
Bill Press, some bloggers — there is even an EasonGate.com site that sprung up rather quickly — say these remarks by Jordan were outrageously anti-military, even if he did try to back off, and that the mainstream press here was lazy, incompetent, or simply covering up.
BILL PRESS, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: Well, we certainly see the power of the bloggers here, Howie. But it seems if anybody was targeted — and by the way, I accept both David Gergen’s and Eason Jordan’s explanation. Which one of us watching this show or on the show has not said something that he later regretted?
But I think Jordan was targeted, because of his connection with CNN. If this had been General James Mattis, who had said this, even inadvertently, nobody would have paid any attention. Eason was targeted, I believe, to get at CNN, and it worked. But I have to tell you, I also think that this would not have been an issue if immediately Eason Jordan had demanded the release of that transcript, got on top of it, and said, this is what I said, I didn’t mean it, I apologize. I think you know what it’s like? Swift boats and John Kerry. He waited too long to act.
KURTZ: And of course it wasn’t just the bloggers that criticized Eason Jordan, it was also a couple of liberal Democrats, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd who were there, who did not like his remarks.
But David Gergen, here’s the problem. Using the phrase « targeting journalists, » I think we can agree, not a very smart thing to say. But also, Eason Jordan was already a lightning rod, because he wrote in « The New York Times » two years ago that CNN didn’t report some of Saddam Hussein’s abuses over the years to protect its Iraqi employees in that country, which some people saw as accommodating to the Saddam regime.
GERGEN: I think that’s right. But to go back to the targeting, one of the reasons the phrases can be deeply offensive, is it’s so contrary to what the U.S. military policy has been. You and I are both aware of many instances in which U.S. troops had gone to rescue journalists and they have protected them. They have got a long and I think an honorable history of doing that.
So the whole charge struck many of us as, whoa, that’s way beyond anything that we think is reality. But I do think he walked it back. And it’s only in essence — for a fellow who’s put 23 years in, to — and built a reputation as a good journalist and building up CNN, I thought that the price he paid far exceeded the crime.
And that’s why I find this sad. It is true that he got himself embroiled in another dispute over a piece that he wrote in « The New York Times, » the one you cite that seems to suggest that CNN had not put certain stories on the air in order to keep their journalists on the ground in Baghdad, that they had not revealed the full savagery of the Hussein regime.
GERGEN: And that that got him — that got him into some controversy, so he should have been even more careful not to leave himself open to this kind of controversy.
KURTZ: And Jeff Jarvis, on the reaction. Let’s say he misspoke. Could he have diffused the controversy with a quicker reaction, with a quicker apology, or is this a kind of a cyber-McCarthyism, where somebody says something controversial and…
JARVIS: We didn’t fire him, the bloggers. CNN did. I agree it doesn’t fit the crime, because we don’t know the crimes that are in CNN’s heart here. Something else happened here that we don’t know. The story’s not over. We have to see that transcript from Davos. There’s no reason for that to be hidden still, and CNN has to realize that they have to tell us more of what’s going on.
The problem here is that by just asking for the truth, knocking at the doors of the news temple and saying, tell us what’s go on, we’re being portrayed as a lynch mob. We’re not. We’re citizens wanting to know the truth. It used to be the job of journalists to report that. So let’s get to the truth, let’s get to the facts. I think if Jordan had come right out and said, I’m sorry, I blew it, I was wrong, I didn’t mean to say that, he wouldn’t have made any more friends that he has now, but he still would be at his job.
KURTZ: Bill Press, let me just briefly touch on the substance. Did Eason Jordan have a point but used the wrong words, in the sense that there have been instances of military overzealousness, for example, the U.S. shelling of the Palestine hotel, a known haven for international journalists where two were killed? There have been incidents like that that have certainly been troubling to the people in the media.
PRESS: I believe he simply misspoke. I think what he was trying to say, having come back from Baghdad is, look, this is dangerous territory, there are 63 journalists who have been killed — either killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or they happened to get caught in the crossfire, or they were mistaken for the enemy.
I do not believe that the United States military targets or would ever target American or any other journalist. At the same time, I have to admit I didn’t think we’d ever torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib either.
KURTZ: OK, David Gergen.
GERGEN: I just want to say, I agree with Jeff Jarvis on one fundamental point, and that is the bloggers serve an enormously important purpose as citizens in a town square asking for more accountability from people in power. I think that is a valuable role to play in our society. In this case, I have to say, Jeff, while there were bloggers who were simply getting at the truth, I think there was also a quality of vigilante justice building up among some of the bloggers who wanted his head.
JARVIS: You got a good point there. There were two issues for this with the bloggers. One is CNN’s history with covering this war and the military in general. And the second was Jordan’s own history here. And yes, there were some who just don’t like him and nothing would make them like him. But those of us who wrote — I wrote about this on my blog as a media story, because it is.
KURTZ: OK. I’m going to…
JARVIS: I think today « The New York Times » is very embarrassed that they didn’t write about it beforehand.
KURTZ: I’m going to let you expand on that when we turn to our next part of the discussion.
Another resignation driven by bloggers just this week. Jeff Gannon, an openly conservative reporter writing for two Web sites, TalonNews and the clearly partisan GOPUSA.com, drew fire after asking President Bush this inaccurate and somewhat loaded question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.D. « JEFF GANNON » GUCKERT, TALON NEWS: Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Gannon quit after liberal bloggers revealed his real name and his registration of several sexually provocative online Web addresses that he never turned into Web sites. Gannon, who said he and his family were being harassed, defended his work on CNN’s « WOLF BLITZER REPORTS. »
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUCKERT: Talon News is a legitimate conservative online news service. And my questions are things that my readers, 700,000 daily subscribed readers, want the answer to. And those are my questions. I created the questions. Nobody fed questions to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Bill Press, should the White House have given day passes to an online reporter for a site like GOPUSA so that he’s in a position to ask the president of the United States questions like « Harry Reid is talking about soup lines. » Well, Senator Reid never talked about soup lines. That was a characterization, Gannon later admitted to me, he picked up from Rush Limbaugh?
PRESS: First of all, let’s make a big distinction, all right? I mean, Eason Jordan is a real journalist for 23 years. I think this guy is a phony. And let’s call him by his real name, James Dale Guckert. And you know what he was? He was in there for two years, Howie, every day getting a daily pass under a pseudonym by the White House.
KURTZ: But there are lots of people that change their names. Woody Allen isn’t his real name. What’s the big deal about that?
PRESS: Big deal? After 9/11, you try to get into the White House not using your real name. I mean, it would not work for anybody else. They let this guy in, clearly, as a lifeline to Scott McClellan, who is — and so whenever he got in trouble, he’d call on old James Dale Guckert, who would bail him out with a softball question, Howie. Nobody else would be able to get in like that. And you know what I really want to know? Is not only why did the White House let him in, but why didn’t the other so-called mainstream press, who knew this guy was a phony all those years, why didn’t they do something about it?
KURTZ: On the other hand, David Gergen, there are a lot of colorful characters in the White House briefing room. You’ve worked there. Lester Kinsolving comes to mind. And some people there are just out-and-out liberals. Liberal columnists and others. So why shouldn’t Jeff Gannon or James Guckert be able to ask his question as well?
GERGEN: I am sorry, I really have a hard time getting excited about this story. I think it’s trivial compared to paying off journalists like Armstrong Williams or others and giving them money to go out and support you. In this case, the White House has had a lot of wild cards in there over the years, and you well know that. And various presidents — President Kennedy made no bones of the fact that there was a woman from Texas who was sort of — who was a liberal, and she was out there in the audience, and when he got in trouble on a question, he’d always find her. He knew where she sat. And he turned to her in press conferences because she’d get him off the took. This has been going on for a long, long time.
KURTZ: But Jeff Jarvis, liberal bloggers like DailyKos and Atrios, among others, went after Gannon on some personal stuff. Some of them say he’s anti-gay; he denies that. Did they go too far in using these kinds of online tactics against somebody whose politics they clearly didn’t like?
JARVIS: Well, online or off-line tactics, yes, I believe so. The story here is did the White House stack the press deck and then pull out a friendly card, as Mr. Gergen puts it? That’s the real story. The story of Gannon, he may be a little, well, hard to take, but to go beyond the main story here and go after his personal life does make you look like a bit of a lynch mob.
And as we in blogs who are opinionated — Kos calls himself an advocate — get press passes for things like conventions, we have to, you know, be concerned about saying that someone else shouldn’t because they’re not a legitimate journalist. Well, we’re all legitimate journalists today, and that’s a line that’s very fuzzy now.
KURTZ: But how do you…
KURTZ: Go ahead, just briefly.
PRESS: Yeah, if I may, just to make a point here. I think that Media Matters for America, which is a blog where I found out about this Jeff Gannon thing, they weren’t going after his personal life. The point they were making is a point we were talking about earlier, how did this ringer get in the White House so often and called on so many times by Scott McClellan and President Bush, and I think that does get down to the credibility of the media. When you have somebody there who’s not under his real, who’s representing a site that links you to GOPUSA, it’s really questionable…
KURTZ: That’s a very legitimate question, Bill. But it was the personal stuff I think that drove Gannon or Guckert to resign.
We need to take a break. Ahead, we’ll ask, just who is a journalist? And later, Watergate’s Deep Throat and the media still looking to solve that mystery.
KURTZ: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
Bill Press, you were a California Democratic chairman before coming to CNN. Are you a journalist? By which I mean also, do you have an obligation to be fair?
PRESS: I stopped beating my wife, too. Howie, let me just say this, when I was California Democratic chairman, I auditioned for « CROSSFIRE » at CNN. I got the job. The first thing Rick Davis told me was, you must quit your job, which was a volunteer position, by the way. I was never paid a dime when I was California Democratic chair. Rick Davis said, you must quit your job. You can have no other source of income but CNN. That’s your job now. You take it or leave it. And I took it.
For 30 years, I have made a living doing radio and television commentary. I think that qualifies me as a journalist.
KURTZ: All right. Jeff Jarvis, you’ve helped found « Entertainment Weekly, » you’ve worked for « TV Guide. » Now, you pop off on your blog, among other professional pursuits. Are you a journalist or are you somebody who holds journalists accountable?
JARVIS: We’re all journalists. We all hold journalists accountable. That’s the new world here. Anyone who witnesses news now can report it. Everybody has a press. The only thing that made journalists journalists before was access to the guy who owned the press, or the guy who owned the broadcast tower. Now we all have that.
We’re also all pundits now. We have opinions and views, and we have the Internet, and we can get those across. And as a journalist, I think that’s great news. More information, more diverse viewpoints make for a better democracy.
KURTZ: I also think it’s a healthy development. David Gergen, you write for « U.S. News, » you also teach at Harvard and you’ve also worked for Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Clinton. So I could say, well, you’re a recovering political operative.
GERGEN: Yeah, you’d be right, too. And I’m not sure I’ve recovered. The — I, look, I think the lines have become so blurred that it’s very — between entertainment and the press, between politics and the press…
KURTZ: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Armstrong Williams going on, he’s a talk show host, he also owned a PR firm, even before we knew he took $240,000 from the Bush administration. Is he a journalist, a talking head? Do people confuse him with other kinds of political analysts?
GERGEN: I think people now wear multiple hats, but if they’re going to be journalists, then they — if they pretend to be journalists, then they ought to observe some codes of ethics. One of them is you don’t take money from the government.
But secondly, I disagree with Jeff. I think it’s wonderful that citizens are armed with all of this information through the blogs, but it does seem to say that to say, well, there’s no such thing as off the record anymore, that we no longer are going to observe that creed of journalism, there is no such thing in effect as background or anything else, I think that that’s a real setback for the craft of journalism.
JARVIS: I think it was shocking that a journalist, the head of a journalistic organization, agreed in a public forum to be off the record. I think that, you know, when I left « Entertainment Weekly, » I refused to sign a contract that had a shut-up clause in it from this very company, because I think we as journalists must be transparent. That’s the ethic of the age online. That’s what the online expects. If you’re not transparent, we’ve got a problem. KURTZ: I want to get Bill Press back in. I want to rattle off some names of people you see on television. George Stephanopoulos, Tony Snow, Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, your old sparring partner Pat Buchanan. All came out of the world of politics. And you have people like Bill Kristol, who’s a « Weekly Standard » editor; he still provides some advice to the Bush administration, and Carville and Begala on CNN advised John Kerry while being on « CROSSFIRE. » So what do we make of whether these people are journalists, talking heads, pundits, you name it?
PRESS: Well, David Gergen is right. I mean, the lines have blurred. But you certainly can come out of politics and go into the media and make that your new profession and your new life, and thereby, if you will, I guess, convert yourself into a journalist. I think the ones you mentioned are all journalists today.
But the rule I think what David said is correct, but the rule is if you’re in this business, you don’t take money from the government to espouse a particular point of view. That is wrong, whether you’re a journalist or not a journalist.
KURTZ: I think we can agree on that. There’s more to debate here, but again, we’re out of time.
But up next, it’s still the biggest guessing game in Washington. Just who is Deep Throat? More than 30 years later, why does anyone still care?
KURTZ: Welcome back.
David Gergen, you worked in the Nixon administration. Are you willing to deny right here on national television that you were Deep Throat?
GERGEN: I’ve been denying it for years. But I, listen, this fellow, whoever he was, was a central player in bringing down the president of the United States. The only time in history we had anybody resign. A major scandal. And it’s one of the last great mysteries of Washington. Everything is transparent today.
KURTZ: Could you have been shallow throat? Had you ever leaked to Bob Woodward?
GERGEN: I knew Bob Woodward. I had a relationship with Bob Woodward, and that’s in the public record. But I still don’t know who it is.
KURTZ: All right. Bill Press, John Dean started all this by saying that his own source, his own Deep Throat had told him that Bob Woodward had told « Washington Post » editor Len Downie that Throat was ill. Downie has denied such a conversation to me. Isn’t this an awfully thin read on which to build all this speculation?
PRESS: I think it’s very, very thin indeed, and David Gergen looks like he’s in good health, and so did Pat Buchanan the last time I saw him.
PRESS: Howie, I don’t know who Deep Throat is, but I have to tell you, I don’t want to know. This has been one of great mysteries of my life. I don’t know what we will talk about at Washington dinner parties if we ever find out who Deep Throat is.
KURTZ: Why spoil it.
PRESS: Don’t destroy the fun.
KURTZ: All right. Jeff Jarvis, it is fun, it’s not fattening. Anybody can play this game. But why do people who weren’t even born during Watergate seem to find this so fascinating?
JARVIS: I think those under 40 probably don’t care as much as those of us with white beards. You know, I wonder today if Deep Throat would, pardon me, but start a blog. I think the tradition of revealing the secrets of government is important to maintain. And I hope it continues. And so when Deep Throat does reveal himself, I think we should have a big salute.
KURTZ: All right. Throat.com, you heard it here first. Jeff Jarvis, Bill Press, David Gergen, thanks for joining us. We’ll be right back.
KURTZ: That’s it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. Join us again next Sunday morning, at 11:30 Eastern, for another critical look at the media. « LATE EDITION » with Wolf Blitzer begins right now.