Mea culpa on Paul Moran
I’d like to apologize about the Paul Moran piece below. I don’t know that Paul Moran was working for Rendon Group at the time of his tragic death and I should not have said or insinuated that he did. I stepped over the line from valid criticism of government and private firms to smearing a man who can’t defend himself, and that was wrong.
A commenter, calling himself Eric Campbell, who was the reporter with Moran at the time of his death, wrote in and said this:
I am the ABC reporter who was working with Paul Moran when he was killed. The immense grief his family is suffering has been compounded by the unending repetition of false claims about him on the internet.
It is probably too late to repair the damage, but in the interests of decency, people should recognise the following:
Paul’s assignment for the ABC in northern Iraq Iraq was as my cameraman. He was not the reporter. It is absurd and wrong to say there was a conflict of interest.
Paul was not working for the Rendon Group at the same time. He was never any employee of the Rendon Group. Like many freelance journalists, he did occasional audio visual production work Rendon and other PR companies.
His work was never propaganda. It was corporate videos, news webs-sites, and in the case of his original work in Kurdistan, production and training work to help the Kurds set up a TV station.
He rightly felt sympathy for the plight of Kurdish civilians after seeing the suffering they had been through under Saddam Hussein. He felt the media should do more to report this, as well as many other issues he felt strongly about such as the plight of refugees and asylum seekers. There is no contradiction between that and his work as a cameraman or reporter for such broadcasters as the BBC and ABC.
He obtained the interview with an Iraqi defector through a contact at the INC he had worked with in Kurdistan. That is not sinister. It is how journalists get stories.
Paul never made any secret about his freelance production work. He simply did it to pay the bills betwen broadcast assignments, like any other freelancer.
He was a man of great integrity who was widely loved. The fact that John Rendon came to his funeral in Adelaide, along with dozens of others from around the world who had worked with him, is simply a reflection of that.
Go ahead and criticise the INC, the CIA, the Pentagon, whoever. But do not make Paul the villain, because he wasn’t.
He took on a risky assignment to work for the ABC during the war Kurdistan because he believed the Kurds were an important part of the story. He was disdainful of journalists who just got news from press briefings, believing they should always go to where the story was. He paid for this with his life.
The IP number that showed up with the comment traceroutes back to a machine in Australia, so I’m going to accept that Campbell is the author of this note.
I’d like to extend my apologies to Moran’s family and to his friends. But most of all, to my readers. It was shoddy journalism.
However, I should have made it more clear that I did not consider Paul a “villain” in this. I felt that the most stinging criticism was rightfully aimed at Rendon and the Pentagon. I still consider it questionable for a journalistic enterprise such as ABC to hire someone with ties to a PR firm so closely tied to the Washington power structure, but that should not be read as a criticism of Moran. As Campbell pointed out, he took jobs to pay bills — something every freelancer has to do. Including myself. (Never for a PR firm, but for magazines that don’t contribute to my foreign policy aspirations.)
My sincerest apologies to Moran’s friends and family.