Fat Steve's Blatherings

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Newsweek's Moral Failure

      Previously, I commented on the journalistic failings of Newsweek.  Now, let's take the gloves off and really whack them.  (I was, by the way, working on this on Tuesday when I lost my connection).

      Trey Jackson notes that the only people defending Newsweek are liberals. I wonder what that could be about?  One might almost think the people involved in this automatically decided that truth consisted of whatever fit their political agenda.

      Baldilocks comments:
      Publishing a report on an unverified desecration of Islam’s holy scripture was merely a tool meant to undermine the military’s mission in the War on Terror(ists) and thereby discredit the war’s author, the president. But like many tools wielded by unskilled "warriors," it missed the mark and hit the wrong targets: at least 15 Afghanis, now dead.

      Yes.

      At National Review Online, David Frum asks:
      I'm glad Newsweek has apologized and all for its false report of Koran desecration, but ... isn't this a mistake that calls for more than just a "we deeply regret etc."? Fifteen people are dead and who knows how many injured, all because of a journalistic tidbit in which Newsweek itself never seems to have felt much confidence. Isn't this kind of a big deal? It's not the kind of reckless disregard for truth of which CBS was guilty in Rather-gate, but in terms of consequences, isn't it far, far more horrible? And isn't this whole terrible incident a reminder of why American journalists owe the US military the benefit of the doubt when the facts are uncertain?

      I wonder what happened to 'Innocent until proven guilty'?

      Clayton Cramer says:
      The distinction between us bloggers (the guys that a CBS executive characterized as people working in their pajamas) and professional journalists is supposed to be the care to check sources that professional journalists use. So when I saw that Newsweek had reported that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had descrated the Koran--leading to anti-American rioting and deaths in the Islamic world, I was a little disappointed--in our government. It appears that I should have been disappointed in Newsweek:
      Newsweek magazine on Sunday said it erred in a May 9 report that said U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article.

      "We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Editor Mark Whitaker wrote in the magazine's latest issue, due to appear on U.S. newsstands on Monday.

      Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Koran down the toilet.

      Whose side is Newsweek on? The side of Osama bin Laden, perhaps?

      Austin Bay had several thoughtful posts on the mess, one of which I quoted previously.  He attracted a lot of comments, some of them very good.

      Commenter 1, ARegan asks:
      Am I the only one who finds the words “[we] extend our sympathies” particularly obscene?

      No, I did too.

      Commentator 19 at Bay's site asks:
      But news outlets filter news coming to the US from other countries when it is deemed too dangerous for those in the other countries. Look at how CNN treated news in Saddam’s Iraq for one outrageous example. Should they not also consider that perhaps some news is too dangerous/inflammatory to go from the US to other countries? Shouldn’t they be extra cautious with such information?

      Commentator 57 asks:
      If action taken by the guards in Cuba resulted in the deaths of 17 inmates would the media not DEMAND action?

      Criminal charges and accountability ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP?. Of course.

      Well, How about some accountability from Newsweek? Investigations are in order as are lawsuits on behalf of those killed or injured.

      Commentator 64, Kevin Fleming:
      Newsweek and other MSM see religion as nonsense practiced by the ignorant and superstitious. Since it is, in their view, a meaningless diversion, artefacts such as books, icons, crucifixes and images cannot be "desecrates" (sic; he meant desecrated) simply because nothing can really be "sacred".

      Commentator 70, Al Maviva:
      If there weren’t 15 dead bodies -- and who knows how many more to follow -- the irony of Newsweek’s story would be delicious. After all, they and their tranzi buddies have been lecturing all the rest of us Neolithic men on how culturally insensitive and dumb we are -- and that was of course to be the point of the Isikoff story, our dum sojers is so kultural dumm. How bitterly ironic that NewSpeak has lit the spark which may undo the good work the U.S. has done (and paid for with the precious blood of our finest citizens) in the Middle East and South Asia, and may undo the democratic spring now occurring.

      Commentator 72, "Soldier's Dad::
      Newsweek brags that its magazine ends up on newstands in 190 countries.
The 'we didn’t think anyone outside the US would see it' excuse doesn’t hold water.

      Uncensored press reports have been getting soldiers killed since Korea.

      Thats why the military is treated as evil, in order to kill the enemy, one needs to dehumanize them first.

      Commentator 78:
      Isn’t Michael Isikoff the reporter whose Newsweek story on Monica Lewinsky was spiked because the editors wanted more fact checking?

      So they obviously have different standards for the lives of our troops than they had for Bill Clinton’s infidelities.

      Commentator 83:
      I’ve just made an argument over at Roger L. Simon’s posting that this is more than just sloppy reporting. In every other walk of life, professionals are subject to criminal charges if they engage in grossly negligent behavior that results in injury to innocent third parties. Here have we grossly negligent (if not outright malicious, and I’m still not convinced that Newsweek didn’t make up most of this story out of whole cloth) behavior that has resulted in harm to American servicemen in wartime. This is much, much more serious than Rathergate. Newsweek has crossed over the line from ordinary leftist media conceit into Lord Haw Haw / Tokyo Rose territory.

      Commentator 87, Jon Burrows:
      Next Newsweek Headline: American Corporation kill 14 Muslims, US Government does nothing.

      Commentator 89:
      I used to belong to a wargaming club. Through experience I could easily discern from player’s mistakes who did not know the rules, who were simply bad players, and who was cheating his butt off.

      All three would make frequent mistakes. The first because he was ignorant of the rules, the second because he was not skilled in using those rules, and the third because intentional ‘mistakes’ was a way to win.

      The important difference between the three was that unlike the first two, all of the cheater’s mistakes favored him. If they did not, it would not help him achieve his ends.

      Using that same principle here, once you determine that all the ‘mistakes’ go one way, you can not only determine that they are not mistakes, but also what the cheater is trying to accomplish.

      Acidman gives us some valuable general background on how this developed.  Here's the money grafs:
      I learned all about the "Fairness Doctrine" and the "Fourth Estate" and the "Watchdog of Government" when I was in J-School. You know the one thing NOBODY ever mentioned?

      Honesty.

      I'll leave the last words to Cassandra:
      Journalists claim the absolute right to report anything and everything they see and hear, whether substantiated or not. Or more correctly, anything and everything they choose to report. Images of bodies falling from the burning World Trade Center were judged "too inflammatory" for our tender eyes. Images of Abu Ghuraib, though undoubtedly inflammatory in nature, were not - they were paraded before us 24/7. Videos of hostages, bound and pleading for their lives, filmed with the express purpose of pressuring us into submission and weakening our will to fight are not judged too "upsetting" to air, though money is paid to our enemies in exchange for this disturbing and dehumanizing footage.

      Remember, much of the press is on the enemy side.

THE HOUSE OF SAUD MUST BE DESTROYED -- AND WILL BE!

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