On the political side of the blogsphere, there's been a lot of "post game" talk about the Eason Jordan mess. Thus far, it looks to me like just about everyone commenting on this thing is missing the point. Doc Searls points to a post that calls the resignation a "right wing hit job". Anil Dash approached the root of the problem, and then backed away - to wit:
In this sense, Eason Jordan got fired for blogging. Except, of course, he's not a blogger. And nobody's ever been fired for blogging. But his words getting taken out of context and resulting in his resignation from his position put him in an untenable, unemployable position, at least to those who choose a false clarity over the nuance and understanding any of us would extend to the people we care about.
And further down:
And about Eason Jordan: More myopic blogger triumphalism. Dear political bloggers, most people, even in the blogosphere, have never heard of the whole kerfuffle, let alone the one surrounding Jeff Gannon. This is inside-baseball cliquishness at its worst. I'm not saying these guys didn't screw up, I'm saying that you didn't win. It won't temper we liberals who control the media to be more moderate, and it won't keep the White House from trying to spin the media. Net effect? Lots of negatives, few positives.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but you're hurting us. You're hurting all weblogs.
There are so many things missed here that it's funny. Was Jordan taken out of context? It's impossible to know, because the people who have the audio and video won't release it. Think back to when you were a kid, and you played a game of "telephone" - this is a game where you get 20 or 30 kids into a circle, and the first one tells a 1 or 2 sentence story to the next kid in line. The fun part is seeing what the story looks like by the time it gets all the way back to the first kid.
What we have here is a first class PR disaster for CNN - which was exacerbated by a purposeful lack of information. Step back from the politics of this for a minute, because I don't think any of that's the real story here - how would you react to this story if we changed it over to the IT industry, swapped in someone from MS, IBM, or Sun (pick your favorite large company there), and changed the statement to some partially closed speech at an event? We had that recently with Gates' "communist" statement about Open Source. Take a look here at Red Herring reporting on this - he immediately released a statement attempting to clarify his remarks. He continued to have people in the trade press disagree with him (witness Red Herring), but he also defused the PR problem with more speech. That's what Jordan didn't do. MS and Gates realized that they had to get out in front of the issue and clarify - Jordan and CNN though they should hunker down and "weather the storm".
The difference is that - without politics involved, we can see the PR issue far more clearly. Go back to Jordan now - he made a controversial statement, was apparently called on it in the room, and immediately started back-pedaling from it. When people started asking questions, he (and his employer, and the Davos people who had the tapes) stonewalled. What happened next followed a very familiar pattern - the stonewalling made Jordan (and by extension, his employer) look bad, and fed the idea that he must have said something truly awful. Instead of getting out in front of the issue the way Gates did, he tried to hide behind the "it was taken out of context" standby.
Jordan didn't lose his job because of politics - he lost it because his statements embarrassed his employer, and they decided that they didn't want to take any more PR damage. Sure, the politics of the various people asking questions entered into it, but that's mostly irrelevant. When you have a bad PR problem, what you need is more transparency. In this case, Jordan and CNN opted for less, and they took damage as a result. What CNN needs to do is recognize this mess for what it is - atrociously bad PR. If they continue to view it as nothing but politics, then we'll see the same kind of thing happening there again in the not too distant future.