Wagons circled

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Last updated on June 7th, 2017 at 03:11 pm

Anyone up for some quick transcribing? Here’s Stephen Crittenden on Radio National this morning apparently trashing bloggers for ending Eason Jordan’s wonderful career.

UPDATE. David Shaw of the LA Times joins the mainstream herd denouncing bloggers as … a herd.

UPDATE II. And here it is; a rush transcript, courtesy of swift-fingered reader Renate Britton. Crittenden is interviewing Rony Abovitz:

SC: Rony, good morning and welcome to Radio National Breakfast.

RA: Good morning.

SC: Now you were in Davos last month attending an off-the record panel which was addressed among other people by CNN’s news chief Eason Jordon, can you tell us what happened there?

RA: Well the first thing is I think there is still some dispute about the off-the record nature of it. I won’t go into that in a lot of detail but a number of people including WSJ editor thought the meeting was on the record and it was filming and it was in front of hundreds of people. So um I think three is that aspect to it.

SC: Right and did the WSJ report what happened?

RA: Yes. In fact the editor did make some quotes in he wrote something up several hours after I had completed the first post on my blog.

SC: What was said?

RA: Well the most disturbing thing from my perspective was that um sitting in the audience right across from Jordon was this concept of the United States military targeting journalists. American and foreign, and intentionally targeting them. It was the way it was originally said that was disturbing ‘cause it was said as if it was kind of a fact about to be supported by significant evidence or a report or something in great detail.

SC: And who brought that up at this session? Who raised that issue?

RA: The conversation started about reporters around the world in general dying and being killed. And then Jordon went off and talked about Iraq. He had come back from iraq several months before and I think he and a gentlemen from the BBC were talking about potentially pulling their reporters out of Iraq because it was dangerous and then he said something along the lines of it wasn’t just the insurgents or terrorists in Iraq who were killing journalists it was also the American troops and he knew of at least 12 journalists who were killed who were targeted by American troops.

SC: Now there’s no doubt that a number of journalists have been killed in Iraq and indeed a number have been killed by American forces, it all depends on what you mean by targeting.

RA: I think the question isn’t that people were killed and whether it’s a serious issue the question is whether soldiers had intentially targeted and taken aim at people they knew who wree reporters. Which is a much more serious charge than reporters in the middle of a battlefield and is killed by either side. Its different when a reporter is specifically targeted by an American troop and that raises a whole series of questions and is almost like a hard accusation against the US at that point.

SC: Indeed. There’s a passage in a book by the BBC’s Nick Gowing, called Dying to Tell the Story, in which he says there is evidence that media activity in the midst of real time fighting is now regarded by commanders as having quote “military significance�?, which justifies a firm military response to remove or at least neutralise it.

RA: I think the question I originally raised was that a disturbing one about what actually happened on the ground. In my first posting I asked a question of the BBC and CNN and of Jordon :  if you have real evidence, real data to back up this question, you know produce it. Bring it in the light let us all understand what’s going on. And the most perplexing thing to me was instead of bringing forth those kind of evidence and details and backgrounds it was a series of evasions and backing up and basically a lot of spin and that was even more disturbing.

SC: OK. One of the key aspects of this story is the increasing power of webloggers as opposed to the MSM. Where did you post the story and how quickly was it picked up?

RA: I was originally invited to the forum as a technology pioneer and while I was there I was invited to be one of the people who could post on the forum’s own weblog and that’s where I first posted the story. I think it was foreignblog.org and subsequently I opened up my own site and posted reposted the same posting but it was originally to the world economic forum blog and some people started commenting about it people at the forum, and I didn’t realise it was going to take on such a global significance but it quickly caught on around the world American media jumped on it especially American bloggers and it just sort of took off like a fire.

SC: Did you have any idea that your blog would lead to the resignation of one of America’s most senior news exeuctives?

RA: No I had absolutely no idea and in fact if you read what I posted I wasn’t calling for that I was calling for some answers for some truth for some evidence and in the noise of the blog world there were some people asking the same questions as me what really happened here, what’s the bottom line, but others took the line its really about getting Jordon, let’s get his head. The post was, I asked for the truth and we got his head. Is that really the right thing?

SC: Did Eason Jordon do the right thing by resigning?

RA: I don’t know, I think it was an interesting thing because you had a fairly heavy right-wing response to this especially in the US and it seemed that the left wing, the left side was silent to a degree – it didn’t respond. And it was kind of odd because you’d think that if he felt so strongly about it or others did you’d think there would be a massive debate ensuing and it seemed that for at least two weeks all you heard was from the right and all that noise cause essentially CNN and Jordon to come to some conclusion that he had to go.

SC: Some people will argue that these blogs are used by conservative vigilante partisans I guess bent on discrediting and destroying what they perceive as left-wing controlled media outlets, particularly in the US. Would you agree with that?

RA: No I actually disagree because I’m not on the right or the left I consider myself to be an independent thinker and I think the blogs are a way for anyone to speak their mind. It’s a democratisation of the people in some sense. So anyone could have posted or responded on either side it just seemed that the left hadn’t really understood what the blogs are about and some people on the right have. But I don’t think it’s a tool for the right in any way. I think it’s a tool for the people to become empowered and deal with those in authority. I really hope it doesn’t become some vehicle for conservatives to take down liberals because I think its sort of an even handed technology which really doesn’t care about your politics.

SC: Except that people like Eason Jordan are going to be less likely in future to speak their minds frankly in forums like Davos and people like you are less likely to be admitted. Isn’t that the case?

RA: Hopefully I’m not blacklisted from Davos for speaking my mind. I think the concept of transparency and being able to ask for the truth should be an open question.

SC: Yes, but you take my point that uh that these forums I guess depend on a very great extent on a sense of goodwill amongst the participants and if people get burnt like this they are less likely to participate in future.

RA: I think you have to make a distinction between someone discussing an opinion or having a view and someone stating a fact in a power position and then when asked to back up that fact with evidence is kind of caught red-handed and sort of backs-up. I think there is a real difference because I completely support this idea that anyone should be able to have a wide and free discussion on any topic and they shouldn’t be crucified for that. But it’s very different when someone in a position of power makes a statement and then when asked to back it up cannot. That’s a very different story.

SC: Hmm. This forum was supposed to be off the record wasn’t it.

RA: I don’t completely agree. There’s a number of people who have read the policy and in fact that room was a broadcast room and it was described as being an on the record room and many of the discussions in that room and another (9.27minutes)??? were actually broadcast live all around the world and there were hundreds of people in the room who after the session probably talked about what happened with others of their friends which means that the information got to thousands. Blogging just brought it up to a level of millions but to think that a discussion in front of hundreds of people including media, photographers, everyone is going to be confidential and off the record doesn’t make any sense at all.

SC: Rony, what do you think you have achieved?

RA: Well that’s a good question because my original goal was to ask for some truths for evidence for some back-up to have a lively debate and it sort of exploded into a blog storm and Jordan resigning. Hopefully the positive thing that comes out of this is that there is an awareness of the power of blogs and that there needs to be a sense of morality ethics and some kind of rules placed upon it. Although by default it seems more like the wild west where there are no rules. It is a new force to deal with in the media.

SC: Indeed. Just leaving aside this issue of Eason Jordon’s resignation it really is the case isn’t it, that blog sites in the US kind of encrusted around the central political debates in Washington more and more these days. And people are going to them for their news and for their views.

RA: Absolutely, absolutely. The blogs are seen as sort of the uncensored feelings of people on the ground. They could be people from the media having their own blogs they could be individual citizens but it’s a sense of a real free speech without accountability to commercial needs. When you work in the media you have sponsors, you have corporate bottom lines, when you blog there is no responsibility but your own thoughts and what you basically feel like asking.

SC: But do you see the irony that here we have a senior professional journalist brought down by something he said that he couldn’t account for, yet he was brought down by bloggers who aren’t accountable and don’t have to be accountable.

RA: Well I think the accountability of people blogging is that you have your name associated with it and if you’re driving something that’s completely nuts you’ll be attacked and you’ll be taken down yourself. I think when you ask a challenging question and it makes sense and you ask an authority figure for an answer and they cannot respond its kind of a, you build a momentum with other bloggers who want to ask that question, they want to dig up facts, they want to know what’s going on. I think it’s a mechanism that keeps those in power in check to a degree. It’s a way of not being a passive audience, it’s a way of being an interactive audience.

SC: Thanks for your time.

RA: Thank you very much sir.

SC: Another victory for democracy in an age when everyone gets to speak their mind. Blogger Rony Avoritz there.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/20/2005 at 08:49 PM
    1. How clueless and gullible do they people really are?  If there was nothing to the charges, if they were lies, why would someone chose to end a lucrative career by caving in to “pajamahadin?”

      Posted by Mystery Meat on 2005 02 20 at 09:56 PM • permalink


    1. A quick precis of the interview: Crittenden interviews Rony Abovitz, who blogged Jordan’s ‘off-the-record’ comments at Davos about US troops ‘targeting’ journalists.  Crit never queries the probable truth of Jordan’s claim: in fact he cites a similiar claim by a ‘BBC journalist’ (not named in the interview), as if this somehow lends it credence.

      He also tries the “but they were off-the-record” defence, which Abovitz politely and deftly skewers as balderdash (made in a media broadcast room, to an audience of some hundreds).  Searching for an angle, Crit winds up with the bizarrely fatuous: “Isn’t it ironic, someone being held accountable by all these bloggers, who themselves are completely…unaccountable?”  Abovitz, displaying a patience and courtesy well beyond the norm, tries to point out to Crit that making an extraordinary claim of ‘fact’ is not the same thing as asking for proof of that claim.  You don’t need to be accountable to ask a question.

      Crit also tries the bizarre line that bloggers are somehow closing down public discourse, because what public figure will now ever make a casual or OTR comment, uncertain whether there’s some evil blogger hiding in their audience, (presumably having taken the form of a human)?

      Posted by cuckoo on 2005 02 20 at 10:26 PM • permalink


    1. As someone else recently pointed out, circled wagons make a great bulls-eye…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2005 02 20 at 10:38 PM • permalink


    1. [Newspapers] can be useful… But some [newspapers] are just self-important ranters who seem to wake up every morning convinced that the entire Free World awaits their opinions on any subject that’s popped into their heads since their last fevered [edition].
      ~david shaw (mostly)~

      Posted by guinsPen on 2005 02 20 at 10:57 PM • permalink


    1. “But” ABCWorld Today- not only reported the sexual harassment case but the Congo sexual misadventures AND the oil for food. Listeners must have been left swooning by hearing all this stuff simultaneously.This is wonderful stuff and its all cos of you bloggers.

      Posted by crash on 2005 02 21 at 12:52 AM • permalink


    1. The room was filled with leftwing nutcases and Jordan was showing off for his admirers. His appalling judgement did him in, not the blogosphere.

      Posted by blerp on 2005 02 21 at 12:53 AM • permalink


    1. How amusing that the truth can hurt. MSM are just attacking the messenger – one of the oldest tricks in the book.  The only thing though is those tactics don’t change the facts.

      And if we wanted more about why the MSM should be challenged, how about this story

      Is it any wonder that the MSM is under challenge?

      Posted by Acer on 2005 02 21 at 01:35 AM • permalink


    1. cuckoo said:

      in fact he cites a similiar claim by a ‘BBC journalist’ (not named in the interview), as if this somehow lends it credence.

      Actually he was named.  When Abovitz made the point that the undeniable fact that some journalists had been killed by US troops did not mean that these or any other journalists had been “targetted” by US forces, and that the latter is a “hard allegation” against US forces, Crittenden said at 3:45:

      Indeed.  There’s a passage in a book by the BBC’s Nick Gowing, called “Dying To Tell The Story”, in which he says there is evidence that media activity in the midst of real time fighting is now regarded by commanders as having quote “military significance which justifies a firm military response to remove or at least neutralise it”.

      Though I suspect that most visitors to Mr Blair’s blog would have known that it was Gowing even if he had been nameless.  And the Gowing quote seems a lot softer than I expected.  “Remove or at least neutralise” hardly means kill.

      Note – I can’t be sure how much of the last part was Crittenden quoting Gowing as Crittendon did not provide an “end quote”.  Any errors in the above transcription are mine.

      I also like this phrasing:

      Mr Rather stepped down when bloggers exposed the authenticity of documents he used as the basis for a story questioning President Bush’s military service.

      “Exposed the authenticity of documents”?  Surely they meant to say “exposed the documents as fraudulent”, right?  Heh.


      Posted by Skevos Mavros on 2005 02 21 at 01:53 AM • permalink


    1. I know the pajamahadeen are a powerful bunch, but they didn’t dump Jordan, and they didn’t fire the bunch at CBS. Jordan and Rather were retired by their own organizations after the bloggers wouldn’t buy the BS being pumped out.

      Their respective managements knew the stories couldn’t stand scrutiny, so they did the next best thing. I can’t imagine the scenario where bloggers could actually muster the ability to fire or retire someone from any organization. That’s not how it works, unless you are a journalism major and apply your deep understanding prism to the business world.


      Posted by Abu Qa’Qa on 2005 02 21 at 02:23 AM • permalink


    1. Nah, bloggers are not a ‘herd’. According to the BBC we’re a swarm.

      And the Scottish Parliament has been warned that bloggers might well all be paedophiles

      I’m starting to think that I’m in pretty bad company here.

      Posted by Boss Hog on 2005 02 21 at 03:31 AM • permalink


    1. Yes well Atrios seems to think all you need to do is put up a banner ad calling for Brit Hume to resign,  and thats all there is to it.

      I think if this David Shaw cupcake makes a big enough stink – along with others calling the pJ swarm a herd for demanding accountablity from Eason Jordan and CNN – then we just might have a shot at seeing what EJ had to say in Davos.

      Posted by papertiger on 2005 02 21 at 03:41 AM • permalink


    1. And the Scottish Parliament has been warned that bloggers might well all be paedophiles

      We aren’t?

      Shucks, here I was posting away, with my fifteen year old girlfriend on my knee.

      Posted by Quentin George on 2005 02 21 at 04:21 AM • permalink


    1. Having exhausted his non-existent sources, Jordan quit at his peak.

      Posted by J. Peden on 2005 02 21 at 04:34 AM • permalink


    1. Crittenden is right to be worried. His morning program on the ABC’s Radio National is a showcase of leftist bias masquerading as information.
      We miss Peter Thompson, who used to at least have two or three experts/commentators at a time, who did not agree with either the host or each other.
      While it was not perfect it was more informative than a whole week of either Crittenden or Grizzly Adams.

      Posted by blogstrop on 2005 02 21 at 05:56 AM • permalink


    1. Sorry Blogstrop I don’t agree.Peter Thompson was worse than Crittendon but more cunningly subtle in the way he went about things.

      Posted by crash on 2005 02 21 at 09:53 AM • permalink


    1. Steven Crittenden makes a lot of good points. I think Tim should do the right thing and hand in his resignation to Al Gore who invented the internet and is thus the boss of the blogosphere.

      Making an example of Tim will teach other bloggers not to ask baseless questions that can’t be backed up with facts.

      Posted by Arty on 2005 02 21 at 10:14 AM • permalink


    1. Hmmm.

      I think what we all need to keep in mind that many of the journalists killed in Iraq were operating either independently or embedded with terror groups.  Plus these terror groups aren’t above using journalism credentials as a cover for their operations.

      Posted by memomachine on 2005 02 21 at 03:40 PM • permalink


    1. My god I didn’t realize this was all a cover for paedophilia. That’s it. The Internet should be banned right away so we can return to the days when paedophilia didn’t exist. And those games consoles, too. Creates mass murderers. Never seen before in history. Worst of all, blogs seem to put undue pressure on perfectly well formed conspiracy theories. If the theory sounds good it should never be questioned. “Be gentle with me, I’m a conspiracy theorist!”.

      Posted by Henry boy on 2005 02 21 at 06:21 PM • permalink


    1. I don’t know whether the audio gives a different message than the transcrip but to me the interview was reasonable balanced.  Rony Abovitz was a key player in an historically critical event.

      It was one thing for Dan Rather to be called to account, everyone knows he was but a talking head.  Eason Jordan was in a position to influence news on the most watched news source on the planet.  He was one of those faceless people who dictate policy.

      I don’t know if I am the only one who sees how important this affair has been in historical terms.  The people have finally and conclusively gotten control of the “backroom boys”.  All sorts of things come with this power and one of those is the need for responsibility.

      To date I think that the free market of blogs has led to the growth of internal ethics and mostly those have been high but as the popularity of one or two sites grows, how will they maintain it.

      Power corrupts and absolute power corrups absolutely.  Some blogs such as Instapundit approach that degree of power already.

      Posted by allan on 2005 02 21 at 07:21 PM • permalink


    1. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrups absolutely.  Some blogs such as Instapundit approach that degree of power already.”

      Yeah, Glenn the Puppy-Blender just sits there on his internet throne, cackling madly with triumphant laughter. Up the Blogs!


      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2005 02 21 at 07:52 PM • permalink


    1. Power corrupts and absolute power corrups absolutely.  Some blogs such as Instapundit approach that degree of power already.

      Oh please. That’s the typical view of readership/audience as mindless sheep, and content providers as hegemonic propagandists. Nothing could be further from reality as far as the blogosphere is concerned.

      Case in point: Oliver Willis used to be regarded as a sensible, moderate Democrat blogger. Nowadays he’s the laughingstock of the entire right half of the blogosphere after having gone off the cliff in 2004. Self-correcting forces, thanks to an intelligent and involved readership. (Many of whom are blogging themselves, of course.) The same would happen to Glenn Reynolds if he were to become a far-out nutcase; his current traffic levels and reputation won’t mean jack if that ever happens.

      Posted by PW on 2005 02 21 at 09:32 PM • permalink


    1. Power corrupts and absolute power corrups absolutely.

      Jordan and Rather being perfect examples.

      Some blogs such as Instapundit approach that degree of power already.

      Kos has more readers, and a US Senator posted her thanks to him and his readers on that blog.  Seems like Kos has more power than Glenn.  Yet allan mentioned Glenn instead.  I wonder why (no, not really).

      Posted by JimC on 2005 02 21 at 09:52 PM • permalink


    1. Kos’ power consists of telling people on the left what they already say to each other.  The power of blogs on the right is that they make people react to things they might never otherwise hear about.

      On the other hand, if you’re really, really worried about gay hookers rampaging through the White House, then Kos is God…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2005 02 21 at 11:40 PM • permalink


    1. Tim, remember what Allan says: with great power comes great responsibility.  So what did you do with that glowing green crystal that was buried in the barn on your folks’ farm back in Smallville?  Or are you the descendant of an 18th century blogger who was murdered by Singh pirates of the Kos brotherhood?

      Posted by cuckoo on 2005 02 21 at 11:56 PM • permalink


    1. For me, this cartoon on Cox & Forkum says it best:

      Pajamas at the Gate
      Most have probably seen this since it has been on many other sites. I think they have portrayed each side (MSM vs bloggers) very well.

      Posted by CJosephson on 2005 02 22 at 01:06 AM • permalink


  1. The ridiculous falshood about US military targetting journalists has been repeated and defended by left-wing, anti-US-conspiracy theoriest Neil McDonald in, of all places, Quadrant, just about the one non-left literary magazine in Australia, where McDonald is installed as a film writer.
    Why not e-mail Quadrant’s editor, Paddy McGuinness, at ppmc@ozemail.com.au and ask him if he endorses McDonald’s accusations.

    Posted by Susan Norton on 2005 02 22 at 07:19 AM • permalink