May 16, 2005

The Press' Abu Ghraib: Newsweek Apologizes, But Only After Inflicting Serious Damage to USA Interests

Austin Bay Blog comments on the serious damage done to the interests of the United States and to its allies fighting worldwide terrorism, beginning with these comments:

History may see Newsweek's fatal "Koran flushing" story as the US press' Abu Ghraib.

Under any circumstances, Newsweek's flagrant, tragic error is an error a long-time-coming. The magazine's "apology" doesn't begin to account for the damage. [The apology appears at the end of this post. Call the mea culpa "News Weak."]

Several other websites have covered the issue of anonymous and "single sourced" allegations. (See Powerline’s take here and here. Roger L. Simon says there’s no business like source business. Michelle Malkin covers the story with "Newsweek Lied, People Died.")

The sin of greed always seems to creep into every scandal and it's certainly lurking in this tragic incident. Newsweek wants market share, and a scoop grabs readers. But profit generated by a frantic "me first" quest isn’t the only motive. The "Vietnam-Watergate" motive's also in play. That's a tired and dirty game but for three decades it's been a successful ploy for the New York-Washington-LA media axis. It's rules are simple. Presume the government is lying– always make that presumption, particularly when the president is a Republican. Presume the worst about the US military– always make that presumption, even when the president is a Democrat. Add multi-cultural icing– the complaints and allegations of "Third World victims" are given revered status, the statements of US and US-allied nations met with cynical doubt and arrogant contempt. (Yes, the myth of the Noble Savage re-cast.)

But why might this be the press' Abu Ghraib?...

There's a war going on, a global war, and Newsweek acts like it's trying to "Get Nixon"...The problem is not simply a reporter's mistake but editorial ignorance of the global information grid...

Anti-American propagandists –and that includes Al Qaeda– have used Gitmo and Abu Ghraib as emotional/political weapons. Responsible reporting must take that into account– in fact, credible reporting has to take that into account. A news organization will ultimately lose credibility if it doesn't factor the Al Qaeda propaganda angle into its reporting on Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. I know, this makes for a more complicated story, but this is an intricate, complex war on an intricate, complex planet. I argue that the "Vietnam/Watergate" template directed Newsweek to "get Bush"– and that’s a narrow vision for a quality journalistic enterprise in a world where information technology puts us all within earshot of one another...I will bet that Al Qaeda has sympathizers in Afghanistan and Pakistan who are cued to re-act to Western news reports that "insult Islam" – particularly reports involving US troops.

Read the rest of the posting to learn more and follow the links.

For additional commentary, see this JunkYardBlog posting, which includes these words:

The mistake this time--Newsweek erroneously reporting that US interrogators flush the Koran down the toilet to elicit confessions from terrorists--has gotten more than a dozen people killed and turned many in Afghanistan and other Muslim states irrevocably against the US. The damage that this story will do will be with us for a long, long time--long after that part of the world has stopped ignoring Newsweek's too-late apology.

So why doesn't Newsweek make a mistake in the US' favor once in a while?

The same posting also contains a link to this comment:

Austin: 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 anamoly 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. This is a disaster perpetrated by a single reckless reporter…will he ever be required to answer for his sins? Fifteen dead so far…how many more? The streets of Afghanistan, just days ago filled with pro-American citizens, are now roiled with hatred. What has Newsweek wrought? Who will call Isikoff to answer in courts or Congress for his destruction of an important alliance? GW…it’s time for you to step up to the plate and talk directly about this issue, this renegade journalist, to both the American public and the Afghan people.

This is the last thing we needed to have happen to the USA and its allies in the war on terror.

The Anchoress and La Shawn Barber have both posted on this story and have links to numerous other related postings. Michelle Malkin shares a reader's observation which, when combined with the links in that posting, shows how Newsweek's woefully biased political agenda made such unethical behavior possible.

And who said that the lack of editorial control means the blogsphere has legitimacy problems? That wasn't people in or attached to the mainstream media, like Newsweek, was it?

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

And of course, the radical Islamicists simply won't accept any "apology" from Newsweek as being anything other than spin control or a coverup.

The head of Pakistan's conservative six-party Islamic alliance, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, told the BBC that Newsweek's clarification held no weight.
That's just great. For once it'd be nice if the major American media outlets would be predisposed to accept the U.S. Government's, particularly the Bush Administration's, position first and then go from there. Instead they are inclined to the opposite and in their zeal, in this case, have done serious damage to America's geopolitical standing and integrity in the Muslim world. Again, just great.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at May 16, 2005 3:52 PM