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February 12, 2005

When Blogs Do Bad

Blogs have toppled another semi-public figure:
Eason Jordan, a senior executive at CNN who was responsible for coordinating the cable network's Iraq coverage, resigned abruptly last night, citing a journalistic tempest he touched off during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, late last month in which he appeared to suggest that United States troops had deliberately aimed at journalists, killing some.
I agree that one great function of blogs is to make the invisible visible, to shine a light on those issues, statements, actions, etc. that do not get enough attention in the mainstream media and popular discourse. However, this light-shining function can be a double-edged sword. Where's the line between a witch hunt and a critical, good faith inquiry into what's really going on? Did Eason really deserve this? Or did he just make an offhand comment at the wrong place and time that was blown out of proportion and twisted to suit the rabid radicals of the most jingoistic right? (Hey look, I can write just like the editors of the Hart and Wecsler's!) If you saw BSG last night (it's been renewed for another season!), you'll know it raised the same question of when healthy social inquiry might turn into egomaniacal power grab. L. (my personal guru in reading against the grain) noted astutely that BSG might have been making an argument that we shouldn't be questioning how Bush has handled post-9/11 security and foreign affairs. Apparently the show's creators have explicitly said they're trying to make the show parallel recent history to some extent, but it's hard to say what they were trying to communicate last night in that regard. Was Capt. Adama supposed to be George Bush, and the Independent Tribunal the 9/11 Commission? Remember, Bush at first tried to tell the 9/11 Commission that he was above their purview, and that's basically what Adama did last night with the tribunal. Then again, was the 9/11 Commission a witch hunt or power grab, which is how the Independent Tribunal was starting to look last night? Could the chief investigator have been Ashcroft trying to argue that all civil liberties should be swept aside in favor of “security,” while Adama was the voice of the reasonable civil libertarian upholding his and his officers' rights? See, it's hard to figure out. And really, these questions are L.'s, so if she comes up with any answers, perhaps she'll share. Anyway, BSG is only relevant to the extent that it shows that investigation can be a multi-edged sword. First it was Dan Rather (who may or may not have resigned b/c of the Bush national guard story), now it's Eason Jordan. Who's next? Are bloggers getting drunk with power and doing more harm than good in pursuit of their own agendas?

Posted February 12, 2005 02:01 PM | general politics meta-blogging tv land

Ah! Someone else who has discovered the wonder of BSG! I love that show! I think I might have to disagree with L. though. What about the fact that Adama relates that his father was a civil rights lawyer? Or Adama's speech about what the role of investigations like tribunal's are, to protect the rights of the citizens? Or the way in which the choice that confronts the soldier is so dramatically presented as a choice between what one is ordered to do (the Sgt. at Arms) and what the right thing to do (Adama) is? Course, I may just be playing Devil's advocate in a shameless attempt to get the lovely L. to bring her razor sharp intellect to bear... By the way, did you hear about Anne Coulter's remarks in response to the situation with Jordan?

Posted by: Famous P. at February 12, 2005 03:46 PM

I second the BSG love. And while much of the show does have 9/11 type parallels, I didn't see Adama as being in the Bush role. If anything, the acting President was closer to the Bush sort of utilitarian analysis.

PS. It's CMDR Adama, which is kind of weird since I had thought they were using naval ranks, and a Navy CAPT outranks a CMDR.

Posted by: Tung Yin at February 12, 2005 04:26 PM

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