Ever since she wrote Gulag in 2003, Anne Applebaum has been one of my favorite authors, and I’ve linked several times to her column in the Washington Post. Which is why I’m as disappointed as Ed Morrissey is with her misreading of Newsweek’s infamous “Koran in the Can” scandal last year. As Ed writes:
Perhaps Applebaum has hung around American newsrooms too long to notice the difference, but editorial cartoons express opinion, while news reporting is supposed to deliver facts. Newsweek didn’t publish a cartoon of a GI flushing a Qu’ran down a toilet. They reported as fact that American soldiers had done so, with the thinnest of sourcing and without attempting to corroborate the information. Newsweek didn’t investigate at all — they just took the word of a single source and put it in their magazine.
The right-wing blogosphere defends the freedom of the press to express opinons, when labeled as such, and to report facts when delivering news. It doesn’t mean that people can’t criticize either action when necessary. No one in the “right-wing blogosphere” argues that the American media shouldn’t investigate the government, but we certainly argue that such investigations should be done properly, without endangering national security, and reported fairly with properly corroborated allegations, if and when they are to be made.
This is yet another of the tiresome examples of writers at the Post attempting to appear reasonable by finding some basis on which to attack all sides of a controversy. Applebaum’s reach exceeds her grasp on this point, and she made up for it by trying to rewrite the Newsweek debacle by turning it into a debate on the First Amendment — a conflict that never arose when Newsweek botched its reporting. It’s just another form of pandering, no less than the capitulations she decries earlier in her essay by the media outlets who issue statements of “respect for Islam” that would never appear about any controversy involving Christianity or Judaism.
Or as James Lileks said last night:
here are three belief systems that the media won