Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Getting It Right On Newsweek

An editorial in today's SAEN discusses the recent kerfuffle involving Newsweek:
The United States is involved in a war unlike any other in its history. This is no time for irresponsibility — whether from insensitive military members or sloppy reporters. The stakes are too high, and extremists are eager for propaganda coups.

Congratulations to the editorial board for getting it right. If you want to read more, check out the latest from Jonathan Gurwitz. You can see past SAEN Watch commentary on the Newsweek scandal here, here and here.


Paul Marshall has an excellent article on this over at National Review Online. Here is an excerpt:
The shakily sourced May 9 Newsweek report that interrogators had desecrated a Koran at Guantanamo Bay is likely to do more damage to the U.S. than the Abu Ghraib prison scandals. What is also deeply disturbing is that the journalists who put the report out seem somewhat clueless about this reality.

I have to admit to being amazed out how clueless some in the media have been about this event. Yesterday I pointed out that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann blames a White House conspiracy for Newsweek's troubles, and today the New York Times reports this quote from Marvin Kalb, a senior fellow at Harvard's Shorenstien Center:
"This is hardly the first time that the administration has sought to portray the American media as inadequately patriotic..."

Unbelievable. Mr. Kalb equates holding Newsweek accountable for a false story with calling the magazine unpatriotic. Sadly, the reactions of Olbermann and Kalb seem to be the norm and prove that most in the media have learned nothing from what Newsweek has done; preferring instead to deflect blame onto the White House of all places. This will happen again. The obstinacy of the MSM guarantees that it will.
At least Gurwitz was honest enough to point out that
"The desecration stories might indeed be true, but not on the basis of the source Newsweek cited."

So you can say that the Newsweek story is flawed, but not necessarily false.

As I have noted before, this wasn't the first time these allegations have surfaced.

American and international media have widely reported similar allegations from detainees and others of desecration of the Muslim holy book for more than two years.
Actually Mike, the story in Newsweek is a lie. The stories about the Koran might be true, but we don't know yet. And I have to say that flushing the Koran down the toilet (is that even possible?) is a fary cry from the book falling on the floor during the search of someone's cell. You might choose to believe the unproven allegations of former detainees as fact, but I don't. You say these "allegation" have been around for awhile, fine, but so what. Is that the new level of proof needed in journalism: "well, I have heard this rumor three times so it must be true."

My criticism of Newsweek is that they went with a story they could not confirm, and now the rest of the media is doing damage control by pushing blame onto the White House.

In addition, the original story said "sources tell Newsweek," and now Newsweek tells is that their "source" was wrong. So at first Newsweek said it had more than one source and now their retraction says one source. Futhermore, you correctly use the word "allegations." That means they have not been proven yet.
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