Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek "Retraction" Not Enough

Newsweek finally acknowledges its errors ... kind of:
Our original source later said he couldn't be certain about reading of the alleged Qur'an incident in the report we cited, and said it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts. Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we. But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.

—Mark Whitaker

Editor's Note: On Monday afternoon, May 16, Whitaker issued the following statement: Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Qur'an abuse at Guantanamo Bay.

Here's how Major K reads it:
I believe in freedom of the press, but I also have a healthy respect for the truth, and do not believe that the first amendment provides a license to commit slander. But hey, if it sells magazines, who cares? - right? The Washington Bureau Chief [Dan Klaidman] issued the weakest excuse for an apology that I have seen in some time. It is another round of "It's not my fault. Don't blame me."


I doubt Mr. Klaidman's sympathies mean anything to the families of the 15-16 people killed in the rioting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As for his comments on the "lot of people who think that our war on terror and our war in Iraq is a much wider war against Islam," I wonder if it has dawned on him that this sort of widespread slander in the major media contributes to that false perception. What would be nice is if these bums actually checked their facts and did some semblance of due diligence before publishing this garbage.

I like this conclusion from Rich Lowry:
During the fallout from last year's CBS forged-documents flap, shrewd Newsweek political writer Howard Fineman said: "A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don't mean the Democrats. I'm talking about the 'mainstream media.'" He argued that the media had been identified with a crusading liberalism since Watergate and Vietnam, but their power was waning in the new political and information environment: "It's hard to know who, if anyone, in the 'media' has any credibility."

It's only getting harder. Back in November 2003, Newsweek complained in a cover story that Vice President Dick Cheney "bought into shady assumptions" leading into the Iraq war, partly because of his "dire view of the terrorist threat." In its Koran story, Newsweek itself bought into shady assumptions, partly because of the media's dire view of the U.S. military. And so the media party continues its decline.

I am sure more criticism will be levied, though not from the major mainstream newspapers or media agents. My suggestion? The same as Dennis Prager's: cancel subscriptions and boycott the magazine though let the magazine know why and also let them know what could reverse this decision: an honest accounting of what happened and a firing of someone (or "someones") at top editorial level so Newsweek could show an attempt to take responsibility for what they have caused: deaths of innocents and the cripling of the already sensitive reputation of the United States and its military in the Muslim-extremist world.

1 comment:

Kathy Carroll said...

W., thanks for directing me to a source for the "team of horses" quote. I had only heard it in oral tradition, via grandparents. Nice work, and I appreciate your time.

My educational background? B.A. English Lit, St. Francis U, PA. Literary background is more complex; Dad saw to that. My favorite preschool bedtime story was Cyrano de Bergerac.

Good posts on N'week. I'd better get to work.