A better title for this post might be “Can anyone connected to the MSM read? At all? Or is getting an accurate quote, in the age of Skype and digital voice recorders, just impossible?” But that’s a pretty long title.
In the NY Observer, Eason Jordan had this to say about Michelle Malkin:
Mr. Jordan said he “took note of the fact that Michelle Malkin—who writes obsessively on Iraq, and how wonderful things are over there—had never herself been to Iraq.”
Ever since I read that quote a day or two ago, I’ve been debating whether to give Jordan both barrels or give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he could have been misquoted. And wouldn’t that have been ironic.
Whether he was quoted accurately or not, the quote as it reads is entirely wrong. Michelle doesn’t write “obsessively” about Iraq–the use of that word being a subjective and perjorative judgement and not a recitation of fact. And she certainly doesn’t write that it’s wonderful over there. I haven’t done a tally but I suspect that a third to a half of her posts about Iraq are tributes to US soldiers killed there. She has voiced pessimism about the war both in her interview with Mark Steyn and in her interview with Robert Spencer. It’s hard to misread that as saying how wonderful Iraq is, unless you want to misread her for your own purposes.
She has written quite a bit about the heroism and dedication of US troops in Iraq, but that’s not the same thing as writing that the war or Iraq itself is “wonderful.” You don’t get heroes without ordinary people finding themselves in some pretty awful circumstances.
This is the same Eason Jordan who accused the US military of targeting journalists in Iraq for death. That’s what cost him his CNN job. He did not at that time note, as far as we know, that the terrorists actually do target journalists for death. As far as I’ve seen, he has never noted that indisputable fact. If he has, I’ll be happy to correct the record here.
This is also the same Eason Jordan who famously confessed to covering up Saddam’s many crimes in exchange for access to Iraq for CNN. But the thing is, he confessed. How many others in the MSM, who also trade truth for access in repressive countries every day, confess to doing that?
And this is the same Eason Jordan who has criticized the AP over its six-burning-Sunnis misconduct, even while the MSM looks the other way and liberals actually mount spirited defenses for reporting what isn’t happening. But notably, Jordan has focused most of his AP-related ire on the narrow question of Jamil Hussein’s existence, not on the larger story that the AP misreported or what the AP’s misreporting in this story means to everything else it has reported from Iraq. And rather than just challenge the AP to prove its story right, he challenged whistleblowers like Michelle to go to Iraq and prove the AP story wrong. Shouldn’t the AP have been challenged to prove itself right without dragging its critics into things so deeply? If the AP’s Iraq sources are so good, surely they could have gone to that same mosque we went to without us having to go over there. There was always a flaw in Jordan’s thinking, on who should be challenged to prove what about that story. Kathleen Carroll should have been the one on that United flight to Kuwait, at Jordan’s insistence.
Not that I’d trade the Iraq trip for anything, now. It was an amazing and enlightening trip. But Jordan misfired in challenging bloggers to prove something wrong that the AP had in its power to prove right–if it was possible to prove it right. Turns out, it wasn’t possible to prove that story right.
Getting back to Jordan’s quote above, notably, it’s not Michelle who named her blog anything to do with Iraq. Eason Jordan did that, calling his blog “IraqSlogger.” If I may use the word, Jordan is so obsessive about Iraq he’s planning to build a business around knowing where the IEDs are and publishing that information to a select subscriber base. How is he going to do that without using sources like the AP’s own dubious Sunni sources over there? Is it moral to tell a NYT reporter where an IED is because his paper subscribes to your service but not tell a USA Today reporter the same thing because his paper doesn’t subscribe, if you know that they’re both going to drive down a road where you know there is an IED waiting to blow them up? Those are questions for another post, I guess.
For me, the bottom line is I don’t trust Eason Jordan, and that quote above solidifies my mistrust. It became apparent not too long after his challenge to Michelle to go to Iraq and look into the Hurriya story that his plan for getting her over there stood a good chance of getting her killed: He planned to use private security instead of embedding with the military. Private security workers in Iraq have been captured and killed in large numbers all over that country. Just as an aside, we ran into a PSD (“private security detail”) at BIAP that consisted of two rather attractive young women, a ponytailed blonde in a shiny pink jumpsuit and an Asian in a shiny blue jumpsuit, sporting snug body armor and toting assault rifles. They looked like a couple of models with guns, and I couldn’t help thinking that Jordan’s security plan might have looked something like them. Which might have been nice for a few minutes, but I would not have wanted to trust my life to them when the Big Red One was available a half hour’s drive away. I wouldn’t have wanted to trust my life or Michelle’s life or Jordan’s life to a PSD in Iraq at all, anytime, anyhow. But using a PSD was Eason Jordan’s plan.
To date, no journalist embedded with the US military has been abducted, and only one or two have been killed. One of those, Michael Kelly, was killed in an accident in the early days of the war. There is a US military post not far from Hurriya, and it responded to the calls on Nov 24 and wrote up an official after action report. It made sense to at least contact that unit and find out what they knew. Michelle and I embedded with that unit, which made even more sense. It made no sense to me to trust our security to private guns who didn’t answer to us, and whose carelessness might result in tragedy.
That’s not to say that I believed Jordan’s plan was a set-up. It is to say that given his record of covering for Saddam, of accusing the US military of doing what terrorists are known to do, and his backward approach to verifying the six-Sunnis story, left me…dubious.
And now this same Eason Jordan is either misquoted mischaracterizing some pretty basic facts about Michelle, or he’s been quoted accurately mischaracterizing some pretty basic facts about Michelle. So far, he hasn’t seen fit to correct the record if he has been misquoted. Either he can’t read or the NY Observer’s reporter can’t quote accurately.
So what do you think? Both barrels or benefit of the doubt?
Update: I’ve emailed the article’s author, Michael Calderone, and the quote is accurate, which is what I suspected. The rest of the article is too solid and well-written to have gotten that quote wrong.
I want to be clear that I’m not taking issue with Jordan saying Michelle hadn’t been to Iraq. In the timeframe he’s describing in that quote, she hadn’t yet been to Iraq. That part of the quote is one of three things Jordan says–the first two being that she writes “obsessively” about Iraq and how “wonderful” it is there. Those are the parts I’m taking issue with, because they’re completely inaccurate. Jordan can’t have followed her writing too closely if he carries that impression of it.
I do have a correction to add–it turns out that more than a couple of journalists have been killed while embedded with the military. Michael Fumento has the details on that here.