'An Honorable Resolution to a Dishonorable Act'

J$P Instant Transcript! Bob Beckel and Bob Zelnick debate EasonGate on Hannity and Colmes.

From Hannity and Colmes, Feb 14 2005:

SEAN HANNITY: [FOX NEWS]: Joining us now is the Chairman of the Journalism Department of Boston University, Bob Zelnick; and former CNN contributor, Democratic strategist, Bob Beckel is on board. A lot of interesting questions here, Bob. Do you think he did the right thing, in light of the fact that a lot of people confirmed that he had made this remark.

BOB ZELNICK: I do think--

BOB BECKEL: Well I mean, first of all, I'm not--

HANNITY: I'm sorry, Bob Zelnick. Two Bobs.

ZELNICK: I do think he did the right thing by resigning, if the remarks were accurately quoted. They were vicious, they were irresponsible. He couldn't support them, he backed away from them when pressed by other panelists in Davos. And I think he, his remarks were a discredit to himself, and I can't see how he could possibly have remained as a top newsman at CNN.

HANNITY: Bob Beckel, I agree with Andrew McCarthy at National Review Online, it was an unconscionable assertion. And it's not the first time he's made silly remarks. If you recall, this was the same guy in a 2003 New York Times op-ed, he admitted CNN had remained silent about Saddam's atrocity in order to maintain its access in Baghdad. I think that's pretty unbelievable positions, don't you?

BECKEL: Well yeah, but I mean, first of all, let me say what Bob said, if, if he was quoted accurately. I mean, we don't know exactly what he said. The people there can't agree on what he said. But we do know what he said went over the line. What he said went over the line, but--

HANNITY: But Barney Frank said so, and Chris Dodd said so, hardly conservatives.

BECKEL: Hold it, wait a second. What he said clearly went over the line, or he wouldn't have resigned. In my view, CNN, of course, cut and run on this because of the CBS experience. They didn't want to stand up for one of their own. Secondly, is a 20-year career should be shot down, for as outrageous and horrible comment as it was, should it go this far? And the third thing is, and I'd be interested in what Bob says about this, these pseudo-journalist lynch mob people who call themselves bloggers, who have no rules--

HANNITY: Oh, the poor bloggers. Let's attack the bloggers.

BECKEL: They have no rules, they have no rules of--

ZELNICK: That's like saying that a burglar shouldn't go to jail because he was arrested by a citizen instead of a uniformed cop. The point is what he said.

BECKEL: Let's say that somebody was accused of being a burglar by somebody who didn't know what they were doing and he went to jail. What about that?

ZELNICK: But he didn't deny it. If Eason Jordan had come forward and said I was misquoted, I never said what I was accused of saying, I could never have said that because it's false, that's one thing. And then we just look at the tape and see what he said. I don't think that's true, I think--

HANNITY: Bob, wait a minute, I think there's another story here, there's another point here. I think the words I am sorry, I really messed up, say immediately after the offense happened, I think people would have been fairly forgiving on the issue. Now it doesn't take away the fact that he has this other problem, where he announced that CNN stayed in Baghdad and knew about Saddam's atrocities and said nothing to keep the story, that's a different issue. But I think he could have resolved this very quickly with an admission and a full and complete and sincere apology.

ZELNICK: I think there would have--

BECKEL: You know you're probably right about that Sean, but I want to go back to what Bob said. Bob, are you defending these lynch mob bloggers who go out there and report this stuff, a tenth of it is not true? They have no backup, no confirming data. Are you defending them? Is that where you want journalism to go?

ZELNICK: I am defending any citizen's right to speak his mind, and when he sees an out and out outrageous lie like Eason Jordan--

BECKEL: And to tell the truth.

ZELNICK: And tell the truth, absolutely, when he sees--

ALAN COLMES [FOX NEWS]: Hey Bob Zelnick, as I understand it, he meant to distinguish, and I thought he did do a clarification, when he said I meant to distinguish between the friendly fire that happens when someone is in the wrong place and a bomb falls, and those killed by American forces mistaking them for the enemy. He did in fact come forth with a clarification. Aren't you allowed to make a mistake, misstate something, and say look, here's what I really meant to say, I'm sorry if it was misunderstood?

ZELNICK: I don't see, I've been a journalist or in the profession of journalism for nearly 40 years. There are many mistakes that I've made, there are many mistakes colleagues made. We try to correct the record as soon as possible. I cannot see, I cannot even fathom, a person innocently making a charge that the United States military was intentionally targeting journalists. I can't see it.

COLMES: But then he clarified it, he clarified it.

ZELNICK: How do you clarify something like that?

BECKEL: How do you know that's what he said?

COLMES: We could easily mistake--

BECKEL: You're taking the word of a bunch of bloggers; I get back to the point.

ZELNICK: Because of witness accounts from Davos where the statement was made.

COLMES: Well we haven't seen the tape.

ZELNICK: He was challenged on it, stood behind it, challenged on it a second time, and finally shifted around and tried to correct the statement.

COLMES: As I understand it Bob Zelnick, he did come forward with a clarification, and then he did, he resigned. Was that the honorable thing to do, to say look, I don't want this to be about me, I don't want to impugn the reputation of CNN, I'm going to step aside. Is that not an honorable thing to do?

ZELNICK: Yes it was. It was an honorable resolution to a dishonorable act.

COLMES: Bob Beckel, what is the--go ahead.

BECKEL: Alan, the one thing I would say about that, what was not honorable was CNN cutting and running as they've wont to do with other people, I include myself in that. This is a network that, it seems to me after 20 years, this guy deserves the benefit of the doubt. David Broder said it I thought very well, when he said this was overkill. And it is overkill. And I get back to the point, this is based on, first of all, it was an off the record discussion. This blogger who was in there, who reported this thing, and five or six other people, have never come up with the same line this guy said. And yet you're throwing a 20-year career down the line because CNN didn't have the guts to back up one of their own.

COLMES: Should he not have resigned? Should he not have resigned?

BECKEL: And we allowed bloggers, who have no rules of engagement except to shoot first and ask questions later, to rule journalism.

ZELNICK: If he was misquoted he should have said--

HANNITY: Hey, those bloggers are right more often, as I see it, than the New York Times there, Bob. The media has changed and it's shifted; you're going to have to get used to it.

BECKEL: Well also, the people on death row, most of them are guilty.

HANNITY: All right, thanks guys, good to see you.

Postscript: see the video here.

posted: Mon - February 14, 2005 at 10:55 PM       j$p  send