May 15, 2005

AUSTIN BAY writes that the Newsweek Koran-flushing debacle may turn out to be the press's Abu Ghraib. It's a must-read post with lots of links and background.

On the other hand, here's a different analogy:

NEWSWEEK regrets it got a part of the story wrong. NEWSWEEK vows to continue looking into the charges. If there's no substance to the charges, NEWSWEEK undoubtedly wants to break that story.

Heh. And read these comments, too.

UPDATE: The blogosphere catchphrase seems to be "Newsweek lied, people died."

And Roger Simon observes:

There is a strong argument to be made that this is more serious than Rathergate. This is journalism at its most insidious and dangerous. Newsweek may end up having to fire some of its editorial staff, as well as the reporters involved. I watched their Washington bureau chief Dan Klaidman on the Geraldo Show tonight and he looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights. His answers were weak and evasive.

These guys don't understand the difference between covering a minor domestic "gotcha" story and national security matters. To them, there isn't a difference. If they're that clueless, it's no surprise that they don't know how to respond when they're caught.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chris Breisch emails:

What’s amusing is that the same people who will scream about an evil American corporation which puts people at risk from carbon monoxide pollution will completely forgive another evil American corporation which puts people at risk by publishing falsehoods. The latter is equally as dangerous to American citizens, and perhaps more so, since countries rarely go to war over pollution, but often go to war over propaganda.

And Roger Kimball asks:

Why is it that all the stories you read in Time-Newsweek-The New York Times-The Washington Post-Etc. or see on CNN-The BBC-CBS-NBC-Etc., why is it that all their stories about Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, etc., why is it that the presumption, the prejudice, the predisposition never goes the other way? Why is it that their reporters always assume the worst: that we're doing dirty at Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., and are primed to pick up and believe any rumor damaging to the United States? Shakespeare knew that rumor was a “pipe/blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures,” not to be trusted. So why do these journalists, trained to sift evidence, to probe sources, to listen beyond the static of rumor: why do they only do so in one direction, so to speak? Yes, I know that's a self-answering question, at least in part, but it is worth pondering nonetheless.

As I've warned before, if Americans conclude that the press is, basically, on the side of the enemy, the consequences are likely to be dire.