Here’s a ridiculous story:
Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has suggested US troops deliberately tried to kill her moments after she was released by her kidnappers in Baghdad.
Ms Sgrena, writing in her left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto, described how her car came “under a rain of fire”.
At that moment, she said she recalled her captors’ words that some Americans “don’t want you to go back.”
This is why Eason Jordan got squeezed out of CNN. The idea that the United States military targeted this journalist speaks to an unbelievably elevated sense of self-importance.
Let’s explore for a moment the implications if this conspiracy theory were true. Imagine how many soldiers would have to be given a direct order for this to be carried out. Every soldier in the country would have to be told by their superiour officer to kill journalists. (In Sgrena’s case, apparently the soldiers were handed photos of her and told to kill her.) That’s roughly 150,000 sodiers. The difference between most people and the wingnuts like Sgrena and Jordan is that we don’t believe that 150,000 soldiers could all agree with conspire to kill unarmed journalists. It’s just ridiculous.
This conspiracy theory is as loony as the we-didn’t-really-land-men-on-the-moon one. What does it say about the journalistic profession that so many of them are willing to buy into it?
UPDATE: No, in response to a comment, I don’t think it’s an unfair generalization. Many journalists seem preoccupied with this idea that the US military is somehow targeting them. Here‘s a report from Amnesty International:
The circumstances surrounding these deaths have highlighted worrying trends in US policy towards journalists … Journalists who reject the option of “embedding”, preferring to try and do their job freely, have said that they are increasingly afraid that they are being deliberately targeted by the coalition forces as well as armed groups. A lack of proper investigation of incidents by the US forces has done nothing to dispel this view, despite denials by US spokespeople.
For whom is Amnesty International speaking? Did this concern come out of a vacuum? I think it’s clear a large number of international journalists believe that U.S. soldiers have been ordered to kill journalists. So much so, that they’ve talked Amnesty International into issuing this concern in a report.
Remember when U.S. troops accidentally hit the Palestine Hotel? That story dominated a news cycle. Yet the fundamental assertion was that U.S. troops were told specifically to kill unarmed journalists. It was a ridiculous waste of time to cover the “controversy” and speaks to journalists’ inflated sense of self-importance. They got killed because they were in a war zone doing their jobs. Many U.S. soldiers get killed doing their jobs in a war zone too. Yet, when one of those soldiers die in friendly fire, the press doesn’t dedicate a news cycle to it.
As for the Italian journalist story being downplayed in the papers, I’m not sure. It’s the lead story on Yahoo right now. It’s also being played up in European circles; it’s the second story on le Monde‘s web site.
I think Eason Jordan said what he said because it’s a common theory in international journalistic circles. He didn’t realize that so many would disagree with him when he spoke outside of his skewed groupthink.