May 16, 2005

A TROUBLING REPORT from one of Austin Bay's readers:

I’m on my way back to Kabul, as I typically do every summer, but my family is completely opposed to my travel and work this year in Afghanistan even though I’ve safely transited there, in and out of State and UN/NGO service for nearly 20 years. The word I receive from Kabuli friends is that Isikoff has singlehandedly turned US triumph in the country to a total disaster. It was thought an anomaly last summer that some wonderful–and tragically forgotten–American DynCorps workers (mostly ex-military and my good friends) were killed in an environment that was pro-American to the core. That could be seen as a terrible tragedy, an unreasonable sad event impinging on an overall positive atmosphere–a last ditch effort by desperate Al Qa’eda remnants from outside Afghanistan to vent anger at the overwhelming success of the Americans. Now thanks to one Bush-hating reporter (google Isikoff if you doubt his intentions,) the recidivist Taliban-Pathans of southeast Afghanistan once again have an issue to de-legitimize the Karzai-US alliance.

Really, I don't want to hear another word about the superior "responsibility" of Big Media. Not one more word.

UPDATE: Dean Esmay agrees.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Earlier, I wrote that:

This was entirely predictable given that (1) Al Qaeda propaganda turns on stuff like this; and (2) Historically, such rumors have been used to stir up trouble in the region (remember the Sepoy Revolt, based on false rumors that the British greased their cartridges with pig fat?). If the folks at Newsweek are too ignorant to realize this, or too sloppy to care, then they shouldn't be in the news business.

But Newsweek's Mark Whitaker says:

I suppose you could say we should have foreseen the consequences of the report, but we didn't.

I'll take that as an admission.

Jeez, even if you guys skipped World History, didn't you read Harry Flashman?

MORE: Yes:

If bloggers had done this, you’d see the news media calling for sweeping restrictions on online publication by “non-professionals.” Indeed, the media would be going after bloggers so long and so hard that it’d be pushed to the top of the reporting for weeks until another white woman goes missing.

Indeed. Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin is trying to uncover the source.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Newsweek is already suffering damage to its pocketbook, according to this report.