web counter Media Lies: Easongate introspection

Sunday, February 13, 2005

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Easongate introspection

In the wake of Eason Jordan's resignation from CNN, there's been a bit of hand wringing and concern in the blogosphere over the future of blogging. (The old media has been particularly caustic in their criticism, calling the affair "McCarthyism".) Now a Tech Central article written by James Miller, pleading for calm and "sanity".
One can understand why Trent Lott and Eason Jordan didn't think their comments would draw mortally wounding fire. Senators often praised old racists colleagues and the media had never previously cared. Jordan was speaking off camera to mostly like-minded fellows and he must have assumed that the media would never turn on one of its own for the politically correct sin of savaging the U.S. military. Both men were brought down by blogs that continually discussed their comments until enough Americans were angered such that the two could not keep their positions without harming their colleagues.

I fear that blogs may soon make many Americans afraid to speak their minds. Imagine you're a manager of a company. Your new blog nightmare is that you will say something stupid in a meeting and this will be reported in a blog. Other blogs will report the initial comment and soon whatever group you have offended will pressure your company to fire you. Or perhaps your distasteful remark will go unreported until you're promoted to CEO. Then your employees, while blogging about what kind of boss you are, will literally tell the world about your past unfortunate utterance.

I suspect that most of us have made comments at work more offensive than the statements that got Lott and Jordan fired. Unless we change the rules of engagement ambitious people will start being extremely circumspect in conversation with those they don't completely trust.
I shouldn't have to point this out, but the blogosphere didn't make Eason Jordan resign. In fact, some in the blogosphere are scratching their heads, wondering exactly what it was that he resigned over.

The tape or a transcript of same has never surfaced, so we have only the word of the people that were there. Trustworthy words, they are, but they're still words spoken from memory. A transcript would be useful. Failing that, it's mystifying why Jordan quit.

Blaming the blogosphere is (dare I hoist the old media's favorite canard?) shooting the messenger, isn't it? (OK, I admit — I simply couldn't resist.)