'He Wound Up Getting a Couple of People Killed'

J$P Instant Transcript! CNN co-founder Reese Schonfeld talks about EasonGate.

From Fox & Friends First, Feb 14 2005:

STEVE DOOCY: [FOX NEWS]: A major shakeup at CNN as one of its top execs is forced to sign off for good after some controversial comments.

BRIAN KILMEADE [FOX NEWS]: Joining us right now to discuss this fallout is Reese Schonfeld, a cofounder of CNN and author of this book, Me and Ted Against the World. Reese, Eason Jordan is out because of his comments at the World Economic Summit. His comments essentially said US forces are targeting journalists. He later denied it.

REESE SCHONFELD: No, his comments didn't essentially say that. Some people took him to say that. See, Eason Jordan can't keep his mouth shut. The dumbest thing anybody ever did was the op-ed page he wrote for the New York Times about two years ago, and he should have gone then. But right now, he didn't do anything that was that awful, except--we've got to stop picking on our own people, the journalists. Eason Jordan was trying to defend the lives of journalists in Iraq, and we are taking a lot of hits. And not just from us. Last week, you'll remember, the terrorists, insurrectionists, killed a reporter and his three-year-old son because he was reporting for an American network. So there's a lot of that going on. What he was trying to say, and I'm going to use a name that's very different, remember Patrick Tillman? He was a hero, real hero, maybe the greatest hero we had. Gave up maybe millions of dollars a year to go and fight--

KILMEADE: Sure. From the Cardinals.

SCHONFELD: From the Cardinals, to Afghanistan. He was killed. First the army says he was killed a hero fighting the Taliban. Then they say no no, it wasn't the Taliban, the Taliban were fighting him and we were trying to put the Taliban and we got him. That's called collateral damage. Then it didn't happen. It was a mistake. That's called friendly fire. And what Eason Jordan was trying to say was that a lot of guys get killed in friendly fire. People don't know who they are and shoot.

KILMEADE: Did he use the word "targeted"? That the military targets journalists?

DOOCY: It's all in the gray zone right now, because there is a tape, a tape was made, but it has not been released. And so we don't know exactly what was said. We just know that he is out, he resigned. In a resignation letter he said, I just don't want to sully the name of CNN. But this is another instance, Reese, of where these bloggers, they did this to Dan Rather, they did it to a White House reporter down in Washington DC in the last week or so. The bloggers fire up the internet and the next thing you know, heads are rolling.

SCHONFELD: Right, and sometimes they deserve to be, which I will certainly, as you know I believe about Rather. And sometimes the guy gets caught in the fire, and the people who run the company don't have guts to stand up to the bloggers. He was trying to say something that I think was valuable, valuable to us as journalists.

KILMEADE: But why--

DOOCY: But did CNN, did they pull the trigger so to speak because they didn't want to get tarred as CBS did over the Rather thing?

SCHONFELD: I don't know, but I think so. I guess they just backed down, the same way they did in the end by firing Peter Arnett. They won't stand up to opposition.

KILMEADE: But Reese, your example of this female Italian journalist being kidnapped and all these other journalists, that's by insurgents. The big thing is, US military. And if he didn't say the US military is intentionally targeting journalists, then he would still have his job.

SCHONFELD: Well, we don't know that he said that exactly. Let's wait--

KILMEADE: But if he meant that?

SCHONFELD: But remember that a US tank rolled up in front of the Hotel Palestine which is where all the journalists were, right when we moved into Baghdad, turned the turret around, pointed its gun, and fired up at the building, and killed--

KILMEADE: That's what CNN reported.

SCHONFELD: No, that's what is reported. The guy from Reuters was killed, and a Spanish journalist was killed. Nobody knows why. The US Army has never completed its investigation into that incident. At best that was friendly fire; they say they thought the guy with a camera was a sniper. So it happens to everybody.

DOOCY: Right. So here's a guy who had made those comments in the op-ed piece a couple of years ago, and really stirred up a hornet's nest. And now he says this. Did he really have much of a job over there? I mean, was he a guy who was a marginal character and they said, it's not worth the heat?

SCHONFELD: I thought they had marginalized him after that. I'm surprised that he got to speak at Davos. I mean, they should have learned enough not to send him out and let him open his mouth anywhere. You know, CNN, the Confused News Network.

KILMEADE: And just to say, that editorial essentially said that CNN suppressed some of the brutalities of the Saddam Hussein regime in order to keep a presence in Baghdad, and seemed happy and bragged about it. When other people looked at that and said, that's awful.

SCHONFELD: I'm not sure that he bragged about it. I hope he was just trying to say we have to make hard choices in our life. I take issue on that on another thing. I think he wound up, he leaked some information to the CIA that I think wound up getting a couple of people killed. He leaked it into Amman, and if there's ever been a sieve getting stuff back to Baghdad, it's Amman. And the Jordanese I'm sure let Hussein know what he leaked, and the guys he was talking about were killed.

DOOCY: You're burying the lead here, Reese. Tell us that story real fast. How he got a couple of guys killed.

SCHONFELD: Well, he said, if you remember that piece, that he then informed the CIA about the dangerous thing that he couldn't report. And they told the CIA in Amman. Now I believe that Amman is a sieve, that anything you say there to anybody is going to sneak back to Baghdad, and that those guys that he was talking about were later picked up and killed. And my guess, and this is all guess, and that's why I wasn't trying to make too much of a lead of it, that the word was leaked from Amman from some Hussein supporters back to Iraq, and they picked up the guys and they said here they are. And they were killed.

DOOCY: Wow. Well you know CNN inside and out. The former President and CEO of CNN, also the guy who wrote the book Me and Ted Against the World. We thank you very much, Reese Schonfeld.

posted: Mon - February 14, 2005 at 01:04 PM       j$p  send