Sunday, May 15, 2005
"People have died"
What should the consequences be, when innocent people die because an ideologically biased publisher prints false statements that get people killed? Newsweek today backed down from their May 9th story that U.S. soldiers at Guatanamo Bay flushed a Koran in a toilet to distress muslim prisoners. Anger at that news story prompted tens of thousands of Muslims world-wide to protest, sometimes violently. At least 15 people died, mostly in Afganistan. The story was written by Michael Isikoff, who reported the item with John Barry.
Now it turns out that Newsweek ran the story, even though their sources for the story had partially backed off on the toilet bit. Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker apologized for the story in this weeks Newsweek. "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," Whitaker wrote in the magazine's latest issue
You're a magazine editor or a writer, and you hate George Bush. Or you're a pacifist, and hate that your country is at war in Iraq. Or you're a writer with Democrat sympathies and like making the Republicans look bad. Or you're Joseph Goebbels and you know people will believe a big lie if you tell it often enough. It's not journalism.
I agree and support freedom of the press. But I've always assumed the members of the press were trying to honestly and cleanly present the facts. But in confusing what they wanted to believe with the truth, do Isikoff and Barry deserve to be called members of the press? And now people have died. So far all the deaths have been from citizens of the countries in the middle east. Would Newsweek have backed off if the deaths had been from coalition soldiers?
Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita wasn't impressed. "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said," DiRita told Newsweek, according to the magazine's report. "How could he be credible now?"
Maybe they should be paying damages? At the very very least, I'd like to see a big red friggin stamp on all copies of newsweek for the next four years: W A R N I N G : CONTENTS NOT GUARANTEED TO CONTAIN THE TRUTH