Friday, May 20, 2005

Stretching the Truth on Newsweek: The Mainstream Media Gets it Wrong, Too (Part 2)

Newsweek screwed up with its May 1 story saying that an American interrogator at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet

The initial buzz was that the story had led to anti-American violence in Afghanistan. But the storyline changed on May 12, when Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this:

MYERS: It's the -- it's a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eikenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran -- and I'll get to that in just a minute -- but more tied up in the political process and the reconciliation process that President Karzai and his Cabinet is conducting in Afghanistan. So that's -- that was his judgment today in an after- action of that violence. He didn't -- he thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine.

But the mainstream media* didn't seem to care what Myers said. It continued to go with the initial version of the story -- the one in which Newsweek's story was directly blamed for the violence.

For example:

-- On the May 16 edition of the CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer said the Newsweek story "led to a week of violent anti-American demonstrations in Afghanistan in which at least 15 people were killed."

-- On the May 16 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, correspondent Barbara Starr said the article "touched off riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan, leaving at least 15 dead," while host Wolf Blitzer declared: "Unfortunately, there are dead people out there as a result of that report."

-- On the May 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Brit Hume said: "The story triggered protests in which 17 died," and Fox News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron similarly reported: "The story sparked violent anti-American protests in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories. Seventeen people were killed."

-- On the May 17 edition of NPR's Morning Edition, host Steve Inskeep noted that the Newsweek story "led to violent demonstrations in the Islamic world," while reporter Neda Ulaby reported that "reaction to the story was almost immediate: Riots exploded, and scores of people were injured. Fifteen people died."

-- In the May 17 edition of the Washington Post, media critic Howard Kurtz said: "The May 1 item triggered violent protests last week in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia and other countries, in which at least 16 people were killed."

* With thanks to


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too late to rectify the damage here. This morning, for instance, I read several newspapers this morning and all reports continue to cite Newsweek for the deaths. Same thing with the editorial commentary pages, including letters to the editors. Myers wasn't given a fair shake so what should have been a questionable claim has become truth. Terrifying, isn't it? George Orwell anyone?
The Chinese government is often criticized for censoring the nation's news so that only its views get reported.
When our media fails to present the more likely truth presented by Myer's account, how is our country any better?

However, the actual damage here may be that the Bush Administration spin has blown up in its face.
As JABBS has pointed out, even staunch conservatives who believe in the myth of Newsweek causing the violence, see hypocrisy in the Bush Administration position when compared to its earlier stands on WMDs and prisoner detention.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the story has not been reported properly. this was an honest mistake i believe, and that is rare in american politics.

you think this country's media is like China, with state censorship. interesting....i see it as the news in america goes for whatever sells the best, truth be damned. the advent of cable news has solidified the ratings over news concept.

i also wonder about the truth here (although it happened already so nothing can be done either way at this point) but i could swear some of the demonstrations showed newsweek magazines burning.

Again, its over and happened. what is the point of this story anymore.

10:47 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Listed on BlogShares