"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek Blunder

Newsweek Says It Is Retracting Koran Report - New York Times

And the Beat Goes On (to quote Cher)

From Blair (Witch - NYTimes) to RatherGate and now WashPost (NewsWeek)

"After a drumbeat of criticism from the Bush administration and others, Newsweek magazine yesterday went beyond an apology it issued Sunday and retracted an article published May 1 that stated that American interrogators at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, had tried to rattle Muslim detainees by flushing a Koran down a toilet."

Soooo - it's the administration, not NewsWeek that is at fault.

" The original article was blamed for inciting widespread protests and riots in the Muslim world, where desecration of the Koran is viewed as an incendiary act, and where at least 17 people were killed in the ensuing violence.

"Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Koran abuse at Guantnamo Bay," the statement from Newsweek said.

The carefully worded retraction came after the White House said the Newsweek article had damaged the image of the United States abroad. It reflected the severity of consequences that even one sentence in a brief news article can have at a time of intense anti-American sentiment overseas and political polarization, as well as extreme distrust of the mainstream media at home."

In other words, if everybody overseas loved us, journalistic integrity would not matter as much.

How about just calling it a stupid move on the part of Newsweek?

From StratFor:
Why would a devout Muslim prisoner, having seen the Koran flushed down a toilet, turn and say, 'Well, that convinces me. I'll talk'? If anything, desecrating the Koran would stiffen the resolve of believers. There are two ways to induce a prisoner to talk: One is coercion -- applying physical or psychological pressure that weakens him; the other is befriending him -- showing him that you are his friend and ally. Desecrating the Koran is not going to weaken anyone's resolve to resist, nor will it make you his friend.

Wrapup from NYTimes :
" Analysts said Newsweek was also damaged by the timing of this event, coming after a spate of high-profile journalistic scandals involving fabrications and plagiarism by reporters at other news organizations, including The New York Times.

"I think that this has the potential to be one of those so-called tipping points," said David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a senior aide to four presidents. Mr. Gergen also works for U.S. News & World Report, a competitor to Newsweek.

"There is a lot of anger, both here and abroad," Mr. Gergen added. "The Muslim world is going to continue to believe that this actually happened and that Newsweek is only issuing a retraction because of the reaction."

He said the magazine was smart to issue the retraction, but that it would not quell the outrage. "If anything, it is mushrooming and becoming uglier by the hour," he said."

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