An admission by CNN's chief news executive that he kept quiet for years about government atrocities in Iraq -- including those against his own journalists -- raised questions about whether CNN committed an ethical transgression: trading silence for access.
In The New York Times Friday, Eason Jordan wrote that CNN never reported that an Iraqi cameraman working for CNN was tortured because it ''would have almost certainly have gotten him killed and put him or his family and co-workers at grave risk.''
He also wrote that he never reported that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, had told him in 1995 that he planned to kill two of his brothers-in-law who had defected as well as the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. ''I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting,'' Jordan wrote. (He did tell King Hussein, who ignored it, and a few months later Uday ''lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed.'')
''I'm disturbed by (Jordan's actions). It really took the wind out of me,'' Bill Kovach, head of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, said Sunday. ''There were probably strategic business decisions about CNN's relationship with the government, but this seems to me to be allowing the ethics of other endeavors to trump the ethics of journalism: to seek the truth and make it available.''