Roger L. Simon

"There's No Business Like Source Business" - Damage Control at Newsweek

Evan Thomas of Newsweek has moved swiftly to control the damage to his publication caused by the rioting and carnage engendered in Afghanistan by Newsweek’s anonymously sourced report of Koran flushing. There is some acknowledgement of culpability, but the article concludes with the kind of liberal cant that reminds former leftys like me why I have no home to return to, even if I wanted to:

Such stories may spark more trouble. Though decrepit and still run largely by warlords, Afghanistan was not considered by U.S. officials to be a candidate for serious anti-American riots. But Westerners, including those at NEWSWEEK, may underestimate how severely Muslims resent the American presence, especially when it in any way interferes with Islamic religious faith.

Thank you for sharing.

But more importantly, Thomas and Co. do not deal with the real problem, the anonymous sourcing that should be the instrument of a totalitarian press, not a free one. They seem to blame the problem on Michael Isikoff having misjudged his source:

On Saturday, Isikoff spoke to his original source, the senior government official, who said that he clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur’an, including a toilet incident. But the official, still speaking anonymously, could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report. Told of what the NEWSWEEK source said, [Pentagon spokesman] DiRita exploded, “People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?”

But who is that “son of a bitch”? Newsweek isn’t saying. Until they report such things as that, I won’t believe a word the magazine says. Why would anybody?

BTW, am I the only one who finds Newsweek always referring to itself in UPPER CASE to be repellent? It reminds me of people who post in caps on the Internet. You’re always suspicious they’re lying.