The Newsweek Incident: Let Them Riot
Newsweek isn’t the problem. The problem is that people will kill over a book being desecrated. Actually, over an anonymous report buried within a . . . magazine. There is something wrong when people value a book, of which there are millions, over human lives. . . . The problem is an ignorant and violent subculture within the Islamic world, and the general lack of tolerance about religion therein.2. Jack Shafer, “Down the Toilet at Newsweek,” Slate,” May 16, 2005.
Newsweek’s initial reluctance to climb down is understandable. To begin with, the lead reporter was one of its investigative aces, Michael Isikoff. Next, the abuse of some Gitmo detainees by religious-taboo-busting interrogators has been officially acknowledged. Former Gitmo translator Erik Saar makes such charges in a new book titled Inside the Wire, although he did not make the Quran allegation in a May 4 interview on Democracy Now. However, an October 2004 lawsuit by Gitmo detainees does accuse one guard of throwing a Quran into a toilet bucket and another of kicking a Quran, adding plausibility to the story. . . .3. “Press Briefing by Scott McClellan,” White House, May 17, 2005.
[On the other hand, Newsweek] let its anonymous source predict the contents of a future government document, a journalistic no-no as far as I’m concerned. Many years ago at a newspaper job far, far away, my attorney David Andich cautioned me and my writers against publishing what anonymous government officials said would be in their reports. He also told us to be especially wary of the prosecutor who informed us—confidentially, of course—that he was going to indict the deputy mayor next Tuesday. If you commit those stories to print and the report or indictment doesn’t contain the information your source predicted, you will find yourself in a world of legal hurt, he said.
In my mind’s eye I can see Andich reviewing the Newsweek copy. The Quran findings were “expected” to be part of the military report. “Expected by whom?” Andich would have said. “Can’t you wait until you have a draft or the final document in hand to report that they were included? What’s your hurry?”
Q: With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it’s appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?4. Denis Prager, “Newsweek and the Rioters,” TownHall.com, May 17, 2005.
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not telling them. I’m saying that we would encourage them to help—
Q: You’re pressuring them.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m saying that we would encourage them—
Q: It’s not pressure?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that’s all I’m saying. But, no, you’re absolutely right, it’s not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report.
[A] word about the rioters. They have desecrated their religion and their holy text far more than the alleged flushers of Koranic pages.5. Chris Matthew Sciabarra, “Newsweak,” NotaBlog.net, May 17, 2005.
Did any Buddhists riot and murder when the Taliban Muslims blew up the irreplaceable giant Buddhist statues in Afghanistan?
Did any Christians riot and murder when an “artist” produced “Piss Christ”—a crucifix immersed in a jar of the “artist’s” urine? When all Christian services and even the wearing of a cross were banned in Saudi Arabia? When Christians are murdered while at prayer in churches by Muslims in Pakistan?
Have any Jews rioted in all the years since it was revealed that Jordanian Muslims used Jewish tombstones in Old Jerusalem as latrines? Or after Palestinians destroyed Joseph’s Tomb in 2000 and set fire to the rebuilt tomb in 2003?
It is quite remarkable that many Muslims believe that an American interrogator flushing pages of the Koran is worthy of rioting, but all the torture, slaughter, terror and mass murder done by Muslims in the name of the Koran are unworthy of even a peaceful protest.
[First,] government officials who demand apologies and retractions from Newsweek might profitably spend some of their time apologizing for their own policy gaffes (Downing Street memo, anyone?. . . .Update (6/22/05): Also see Diana West, “Gonzo Gitmo Charade,” Washington Times, June 10, 2005.
[Second,] [d]id Newsweek put a gun to the heads of people in Jalalabad to force them to riot? The best conservative defenders of Second Amendment rights tell us, over and over again, that guns don't kill people. People kill people. That is: the actors themselves bear ultimate responsibility for the people whose lives they take. Isn't it amazing how this testament to individual accountability goes out the window when it fits the conservative image of an out-of-control liberal media of fifth-column jihadists?
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