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London Blogging

May 18th, 2005 - 9:51 am

Had a perfect little afternoon.

Lunch with Megan McArdle, followed by some shopping on Jermyn Street. (If you ever find yourself there and in need of a suit, stop in at Roderick Charles. I just bought a charcoal herringbone double-breasted number there, and it’s undoubtedly the finest thing I’ve ever owned. And for a very reasonable price. Anyway.)

Back in the hotel for a bit, because Melissa needed a nap. My perfect little afternoon was nearly spoiled when I read this:

…it was the press’s turn to fight back as Bush spokesman Scott McClellan opened his briefing to questions.

[Joined in progess]

Q With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it’s appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not telling them. I’m saying that we would encourage them to help –

Q You’re pressuring them.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m saying that we would encourage them –

Q It’s not pressure?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that’s all I’m saying. But, no, you’re absolutely right, it’s not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report….

Q Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you’re saying here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military –

Q You’ve already said what you’re — I know what — how it ends.

Yeah, well Newsweek knew how the Flushed Koran story ended, too, didn’t they?

This stuff just makes me mad, because the media is acting like an spoiled child. Michael Isikoff and Newsweek screwed up, and people died.

Now, McClellan makes the perfectly reasonable suggestion that Newsweek maybe, possibly take a little more responsiblity than they did on Monday. I’m sorry, but the Modified Limited Hangout wasn’t enough for Nixon in ’73, and it’s not good enough for Newsweek in ’05.

Instead… instead we get more of these goddamned Gotcha Journalism games.

Newsweek knows what it ought to do — exactly what McClellan suggested. But because a government official suggested it, Newsweek (and the entire press in general, it seems) feels free to keep doing the wrong thing.

Why? Because the government said to.

That’s the attitude of a spoiled child, who won’t do something he or she knows she should (or might even really want to) simply because Mommy or Daddy told them to do it.

Most blogs are more grown up than that — and most blogs are written by teenagers.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to my vacation now and do some grown-up things.

UPDATE: More here from James Dunnigan. Money line: “Newsweek, like most American media, is known to have higher standards than al Qaeda propagandists. But not that high.”

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