In the eye of the beholder--Sambrook reports on Jordan
I've been following a fascinating discussion on Jay Rosen's blog of the Jordan affair, in which Davos eyewitness Sambrook of the BBC participated for a while. Unfortunately, Sambrook didn't seem used to the somewhat heated give-and-take of a blog "comments"section (after all, he's only a journalist!) and he departed somewhat abruptedly from that kitchen, sweating rather profusely.
But I'd like to defend him, if only a little bit, from accusations that he's lying in his recall of Jordan's Davos pronouncements. I don't think he's lying at all--as in "deliberately misrepresenting what he believes to be the truth." But I don't necessarily think he's correct, which is why the videotape is so important. But, since we don't have it--and perhaps never will--we have to rely on eyewitness tesimony of those such as Sambrook who were there.
The problem is that eyewitness testimony is notoriously inaccurate This fact isn't generally known by the public, but lawyers know it well, as do psychologists. People's perceptions are skewed, often wildly, by their previous set of beliefs, among other things. So Sambrook may indeed think he is reporting accurately what Jordan said, and yet he might be very wide of the mark. And he himself wouldn't have a clue that this is so, and would be outraged at charges that he is lying. Which is understandable, since in fact he is probably not lying. But there is a good chance he is incorrect, nevertheless, and only the videotape can tell us.
Far more compelling is the fact that someone such as Barney Frank, a liberal Democrat, was outraged and troubled by Jordan's comments. Since Frank's pre-existing bias might have been more likely to have gone in the direction of supporting someone like Jordan, I find his reaction good evidence that Jordan did in fact say something that a reasonable person would perceive as an inflammatory and unsupported allegation.
And, speaking of videotapes and eyewitness reports: I used to work in a clinic that videotaped all therapy sessions for training purposes. I saw many couples (oh, couples therapy--now, there's a mighty hot kitchen!). Over and over, I thought I heard one or the other member of the couple misrepresenting what had been said in a session. And, in such cases, I had the extremely satisfying option of saying, "Well, shall we look at the videotape to see what was actually said?" It was often a real mind-blower for the client to see how he/she had misperceived statements made only a few moments earlier. We all do this to a certain extent, constantly editing our memories in one direction or another. But some people do it to a much greater extent than others, and some people do it much more in one situation or another.
So, the videotape: bring it on!