Newsweek ‘Got It Wrong’
Vol: 44 Issue: 16 Monday, May 16, 2005
Newsweek’s managing editor, Mark Whittaker, is in full damage control mode after he was forced to admit that Newsweek’s report about US interrogators ‘desecrating’ the Koran wasn’t true.
The liberal mainstream, however, seem determined to keep the story alive, and in many of their reports, they’ve begun ‘softening’ Newsweek’s admission.
Compare these two headlines, the first from the Chicago Tribune, “Newsweek Editor Apologizes, Koran Report Inaccurate” and the headline from the ultra-liberal Detroit Free Press, “Errors Possible in Koran Abuse Story.”
So, which is it? Did Newsweek get it wrong, or are there only ‘possible errors’?
The Detroit Free Press, despite its headline, accurately reported that Newsweek’s original ‘source’ later admitted that he didn’t even have first-hand knowledge, but instead ‘remembered reading’ about it in a document, but can’t remember which document it was.
At least Dan Rather HAD documents, even if they were forgeries. Newsweek evidently doesn’t even need the forgeries — just a source who said he MIGHT have read something about it in documents nobody can even find.
Good plan. If Dan Rather had gone to press with just a ‘source’ who said he READ Col. Killian’s evaluation, instead of producing a fake version, he might have gotten away with it.
As you’ll recall, Rather spent two weeks defending the content of the documents, even though the documents themselves were faked.
Which isn’t too much different than Newsweek’s ‘apology’ in which they said they would continue to dig until they had REAL evidence.
The May 1 report said US military investigators had found that American interrogators at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had flushed a copy of the Koran, the sacred Muslim text, down a toilet.
A week later, when newspapers in Afghanistan and Pakistan picked up the item, it sparked anti-American demonstrations in the Afghan city of Jalalabad in which four protesters were killed and more than 60 injured.
A dozen more protesters were killed in the following days when the demonstrations spread across Afghanistan and to Pakistan and other countries.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in a statement that the original story was demonstrably false and irresponsible , and had significant consequences that reverberated throughout Muslim communities around the world .
Newsweek hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny, Whitman said. Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage they have done to this nation or those that were viciously attacked by those false allegations.
Newsweek’s Mark Whittaker explained why they ran the story anyway;
“There had been previous reports about the Koran being defiled, but they always seemed to be rumors or allegations made by sources without evidence,” said Whitaker, referring to reporting by British and Russian news agencies and by the Qatar-based satellite network al-Jazeera.
In other words, the allegedly unbiased Newsweek sought to confirm al-Jazeera propaganda and kept digging until they could find somebody who could.
“The fact that a knowledgeable source within the US government was telling us the government itself had knowledge of this was newsworthy,” Whitaker said in an interview.
Newsweek’s ‘knowledgeable source’ remains unidentified to ‘protect’ him.
In the end, their ‘confirmation’ was about as credible as seeking out an al-Jazeera viewer and asking him to confirm the story based on what he saw on al-Jazeera.
For those who prefer to believe the worst of America, Newsweek’s retraction didn’t make much difference.
Not surprisingly, Newsweek’s sister ‘news’ organization, MSNBC, continues to give the story legs by focusing its attention on Muslims who say they don’t believe Newsweek’s retraction.
MSNBC ran its story under the headline, “Muslims Skeptical Over Koran Apology” and the sub-headline, “Many Believe US Pressured Newsweek to Backtrack on Report.”
To make their case, MSNBC quoted Muslim cleric Mullah Sadullah Abu Aman, who lives in the northern Afghan province of Badakhshan.
Have you ever even HEARD of Badakshan? Me neither. Is Mullah Aman a member of the Taliban? al-Qaeda? Don’t know.
MSNBC doesn’t ,either — they lifted their quote from a Reuters story. But they might just as well have gone with Newsweek’s tactic in its ‘apology’. Whittaker never actually ‘apologized’ but merely expressed regret that it wasn’t true.
In a ‘letter from the editor’s desk’ Whittaker wrote;
“Although other major news organizations had aired charges of Qur’an desecration based only on the testimony of detainees, we believed our story was newsworthy because a U.S. official said government investigators turned up this evidence. So we published the item.”
Whittaker’s tacit effort to spread the blame across the mainstream media spectrum is a textbook case of spin in action: in other words, “there is plenty of corroborating evidence, even though, in the end, our source was unreliable.” (Sounds Rather like another famous media ‘apology’ doesn’t it?)
“Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we. But 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.”
In other words, “I’m sorry to report we can’t prove US interrogators did what we said they did – but we will.”
If they get the proof, will they STILL be sympathetic to the victims of the violence and the US troops the story put in harm’s way?
Or will they run it again, sparking a new round of riots, giving the US another black eye in the Muslim world, and putting American forces in harm’s way, because this time, they can PROVE it? They aren’t sorry for the chaos they caused, just sorry that they can’t back it up.
Whittaker’s extension of sympathies is transparently meaningless public relations double-speak. It’s ‘retraction’ left readers with the distinct impression that the only thing wrong with the story was that Newsweek couldn’t absolutely prove it, not that it didn’t happen.
In another section of Newsweek, Evan Thomas explained, “Given all that has been reported about the treatment of detainees including allegations that a female interrogator pretended to wipe her own menstrual blood on one prisoner the reports of Qur’an desecration seemed shocking but not incredible.”
So, Newsweek’s ‘apology’ sounds more than a little unconvincing — by design. One can pretty much pick out the liberal bias of each newspaper by reading their headline.
The conservative New York Post reported under the headline, “Newsweek’s Fatal Error.” The liberal Los Angeles Times headlined its story, “Newsweek Backtracks on Koran Report”.
Newsweek’s rival liberal standard, the New York Times, reported that Newsweek; “apologized yesterday for printing a small item. . .[B]ut the magazine, while acknowledging possible errors in the article, stopped short of retracting it.”
Do you see what is at work here? It’s the Dan Rather Syndrome all over again. Newsweek s ‘apology’ was NOT for getting it wrong. It was for not being able to PROVE it. The difference can’t be stressed strongly enough.
The NYTimes noted the Periscope item was ‘short’, ‘small’ and was only ‘a sentence’. In addition, the Times noted that the Newsweek account “had played ‘a significant role’ in inciting the violence in Afghanistan.”
A SIGNIFICANT ROLE? That’s like saying a bullet to the head played a ‘significant role’ to the death of an otherwise healthy individual.
(“He didn’t die from the bullet — he died when his heart stopped. The bullet just played a ‘significant role’.”)
Bottom line: There is a Blue State/Red State civil war raging in the media. A war that is killing people just as dead as they would be on the battlefield. Newsweek is part of the general liberal effort to discredit the administration in order to give the Democrats a shot at reclaiming power.
Newsweek couldn’t care less about the casualties, despite its transparent expressions of sympathy. They are just casualties of war, sacrifices that had to be made in order to further their agenda. Newsweek s ‘apology’ was an echo of Dan Rather’s — “I’m sorry I got caught.”
It is a 21st century war; a bizarre conflict in which the combatants use words as weapons from the safety of their computer screens, immune to the carnage and destruction they spawn, spinning their propaganda war as a ‘minor fact-checking error’ while continuing to press the attack.
The net result is two Americas attempting to face the same enemy using two contradictory tactics.
One America apparently wants to surrender, or, maybe just commit honorable suicide to make retribution for America’s many sins, like stealing Texas and California from the Mexicans, slavery, and the evil machinations of the military/industrial complex.
In this America, the war with Iraq was provoked by a corrupt US administration. So we MUST not win. (Watch the news from Iraq and see how many stories deal with the US building hospitals, schools, creating jobs, etc.)
There are 300,000 troops in Iraq. ‘Battles’ involve small units like squads. A big offensive might involve a company of several hundred troops.
What are the REST of our forces doing? Sleeping? Running for their lives? If one relies on the mainstream press, then one guess is as good as another.
The ‘Blue-State’ mindset of the liberal mainstream believes America MUST be mistreating detainees, and it believes that it is evil, so America deserves whatever it gets.
Even as NEWSWEEK expressed regret at putting US forces in harm’s way, it only regrets it because it can’t PROVE it. If it could, well, America would deserve it.
The other America wants to win the war with the terrorists by taking the war to the terrorists. The other America doesn’t see America as an evil place and doesn’t understand how anybody else can, either.
Paul wrote of the ‘perilous times’ that would befall the Church ‘in the last days’. I am increasing convinced that he used America as representative of the last days’ Church Age, just as he used last days’ Israel as representative of Judaism.
(Not all Jews live in Israel, just as not all Christians live in America. But in the last days, the battle lines are drawn up that way; Islam vs. Jewish Israel and Christian Crusader America.)
Paul wrote of what sounds very much like the civil war between the two Americas of 2005:
“Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2nd Timothy 3:4-5)
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2nd Timothy 3:12-13)
Amazing, isn’t it? Paul’s letter to Timothy never ceases to rock me back on my heels as I consider its application to America’s political civil war and the issues behind it.
He paints a picture of a place where abortion would be rampant (without natural affection) while evil men and seducers, waxing worse and worse, would defend it by falsely accusing them of being ‘right wing Christian fundamentalists’.
A place where pornography would be protected by law, but Bibles are prohibited in classrooms. Where America’s enemies are of her own household.
It stuns me. Paul closes the chapter with words for the struggling Church of the last days;
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of Whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
We are living in the last of the last days, and we are blessed beyond measure to be witnesses to the unfolding of God’s Plan of the Ages. War is terrible, but war is what the last days is all about — the war that culminates on the fields of Megiddo at Armageddon. And we know how it turns out.
So we needn’t live in fear as the chaos continues to erupt around us. That isn’t to say that things won’t get bad — there is no reason to believe the Rapture will happen before harm comes to America.
The Rapture isn’t a Great Escape, but is instead the evacuation of the Holy Spirit’s ministry so that, “THAT Wicked [can] be revealed” (2nd Thessalonians 2:8) at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week. When the Holy Spirit is withdrawn, we must be withdrawn WITH Him, since we are indwelt BY Him.
But no matter how bad things get, the unfolding of Bible prophecy reveals a Divine Purpose that proves beyond all doubt that God continues to be intimately involved in the affairs of men and that He will keep ALL His promises. He will keep His promise to Israel of its national redemption in the last days. He will keep His promise to the Church that He will never leave or forsake us.
He will keep His promise to come for us when He said, “if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
Our victory is assured! We know that on the same Authority that so exquisitely described the details of the last days that we can overlay them over today’s headlines like a template.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2nd Timothy 3:16-17)
There is no ‘good work’ more precious in the eyes of the Lord than the salvation of a lost sinner. That is our battlefield, and time is not on our side. We grow closer and closer to the day when we will have no more chances — and neither will those we leave behind.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)
It’s breathtaking to contemplate.
Note to the members:
A number of you responded to my email yesterday by exhorting me to take Sundays off on a regular basis. If I receive no objections from OL members, I would like to, and I thank you for the suggestion.
If there ARE any objections from our members, I will continue the seven day per week schedule. It’s YOUR Omega Letter. I leave the decision in your hands.