A CNN news executive forced to quit: That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
On the radio "Factor" last week I received some calls from listeners wanting to know about CNN executive Eason Jordan (search), who made a mistake in Switzerland when he told an international audience that American forces in Iraq had deliberately killed some journalists.
Jordan quickly backed off the statement, but the damage was done. Over the weekend, CNN forced him to quit.
Now the reason I did not report the story to you last week is that I didn't know what happened. No transcripts or tapes were available. And unlike many in the media, we give the presumption of innocence on "The Factor," so there was little I could say about Jordan's situation.
You may remember Jordan is the guy who approved the deal with Saddam that CNN would not report his atrocities in return for a bureau in Baghdad. That was bad. And Jordan's second mistake apparently did him in.
Now, "Talking Points" takes no pleasure in the continuing problems at CNN. Unlike NBC-- which has attacked FOX News and me maliciously and falsely-- CNN has not done that. I consider them a worthy competitor.
By the way, the NBC strategy has failed dismally. Their cable news operations are faltering badly. Karma?
The problem for CNN, and for all of us, is that viewers are much more aware than they used to be. With Internet sites monitoring every word, any perceived slant, slight, or slur is blown up into a huge controversy.
So even though Eason Jordan might have simply misspoke, his words were used against him almost immediately. And with CNN's already spotty record in Iraq, he was done.
The hyper scrutiny on national TV news is both good and bad. No longer can we get away with bad reporting or slanted coverage. The bloggers are on it, and bias is immediately exposed. That's good.
But the bad news is that phony charges also get exposure and are often widely picked up by an increasingly irresponsible media, which now reports rumor, innuendo, and libel all day long. No famous or powerful person gets the presumption of innocence in this country any longer.
I don't know Eason Jordan. He may have deserved his fate. I have no idea. He was with CNN for 20 years. I'm sorry his tenure had to end this way.
One final point: Isn't it interesting that the news network most maligned by the elite media in the USA, FOX News, is the one that has the fewest amount of hard news controversies? I mean, we've been on the air eight and a half years. There have been no major news coverage disasters, no executives thrown out the window. Maybe there is something to this fair and balanced business.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
It's Valentine's Day, as you know, but not in Saudi Arabia (search). In that non-romantic country, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice -- I believe Pamela Anderson heads that committee here -- has banned shops from selling any red flowers. The Virtue and Vice people say St. Valentine's Day is heresy. The only religious holidays recognized are Ramadan and the Hajj. This, of course, is very bad news for any Bedouins expecting a dozen roses and some sweet nothings, but life is tough in the desert.
Ridiculous? Not for the Virtue and Vice police. They're having a great time.