I've been out of town for the past few days. Actually, considering that I live in a county of 4,439 square miles and a population of about 11,000, maybe I've been in town (Provo, Utah). It seems like weeks since the fall of Baghdad, but it's only two days. To listen to NPR on the way home today, you'd think that we were in the 8th year of Vietnam. On the Media, the show that discusses the ethics of journalism as if such a thing really existed, discussed the firing at the Palestine Hotel, where all the reporters embedded in the Iraqi Regime were housed. I haven't seen so much indignation since Clinton denied having sexual relations with "that woman, . . .". The arrogance was insufferable.
I didn't hear anybody point out the ethical ramifications of submitting censored reports--with real censors, not the metaphorical American version which consists of political leaders exercising their own freedom of speech to respond to reporting they deem unfair--and calling it journalism. I missed the show last week, so maybe I just missed their memorial to Michael Kelly, a real reporter who probably considered what Peter Arnett, and the rest of the Palestine tenants, do to be more like being Saddam's press agent. Today they discussed, with typical disdain, the difficulties of so-called "unilateral" reporters who go it alone in the war zone, so that they can feel superior to those embedded with the troops. There was a lot of whining about how the coalition forces despise such people and had mistreated one of them. I felt so sorry for him, that I had to turn off the radio to calm my rising gorge. Why aren't these people arrested and repatriated to France, where they obviously belong? To call it unethical to report our own troops's viewpoint, but accept Saddam's "minders," and pay extra for the privilege, without batting an eye, seems to turn ethics on its head. But don't mind me, I'm just a lawyer.
Meanwhile, it's "Pay no attention to those cheering crowds and toppling statues! Go out there and get the Real Story--find the war crimes committed by American Marines--show the war as the failure we know it must be! We know there's a quagmire in there somewhere!
This is the program that gave Eason Jordan the opportunity to deny that CNN's integrity was compromised by what it had to do to maintain a bureau in Baghdad. I'm sure it will have something to say about his column in yesterday's NYTimes, next week. Maybe a whole five minute segment.
I suppose it's to somebody's credit that this issue was raised last year, but I'm really not interested in hearing any more about the ethics of journalists. You don't get ethics from canons of ethics, or commentators or all the writhings of justifcation for shoddy behavior. You sometimes have to do some pretty scuzzy stuff for your job. Just ask the Marines. But I just can't work up any sympathy for people like Eason Jordan, who sold their integrity for "the story," and now want my sympathy for how difficult it was.