Monday, May 16, 2005

Washington Post Deploys HazMat Team

I think this will be the last post on this subject that I'll be making unless something significant happens, like the original story turns out to be, in any way, true.

The Washington Post Company, which owns Newsweek, has deployed corporate journalism's equivalent to a Hazardous Materials team in the form of Howard Kurtz and the frontpage of the Washington Post newspaper. He makes an interesting attempt to rehabilitate the Newsweek media organization but doesn't really do any favors for Michael Isikoff.

The item was principally reported by Michael Isikoff, Newsweek's veteran investigative reporter. "Obviously we all feel horrible about what flowed from this, but it's important to remember there was absolutely no lapse in journalistic standards here," he said. "We relied on sources we had every reason to trust and gave the Pentagon ample opportunity to comment. . . . We're going to continue to investigate what remains a very murky situation."

Mr. Isikoff must be referring to yesterday's explanation by Evan Thomas that a draft copy was shown to a senior Pentagon official but was never corrected, except for an unrelated item. Thomas' piece clearly explains the official was silent about the rest of the item and had not meant to mislead, but lacked detailed knowledge of the SouthCom report.

Ladies and gentlemen, the lack of a refutation does not make something fact or truth. A few years back, I was responsible for fact-checking product performance claims in certain marketing reports. Naturally, I only approved or recommended changes for areas in which I had sufficient knowledge. Just because I did not comment on the technical or financial aspects of the report did not necessarily make those areas factual. If the above quote of Michael Isikoff is true, he just lost a great deal of stock in my book. I believe it was unethical to rush to accuse our troops of such an incendiary transgression with only a single anonymous source, no matter how well placed. Kurtz hints at what might lead Michael Isikoff and the editors at Newsweek to slip such a flimsy allegation like this into their magazine.

Isikoff, a former Post reporter, gained national attention in 1998 when the magazine held his report on an independent counsel's investigation of Monica S. Lewinsky's relationship with President Bill Clinton. More recently, Isikoff and Barry won an Overseas Press Club award for their reporting on Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Yes, the journalism awards have been flowing quite readily for anyone willing to take aim at the war effort and morale of our military personnel. That's fair enough if the journalist is confident in the truth of the allegations, but this just seems like a shameless rush to dog-pile on the troops and military police guarding prisoners around the world. Howard Kurtz even extends us the favor of a reminder about Newsweek's discretion exercised in covering the Clinton/Lewinsky Fornigate scandal by withholding Isikoff's story on that affair. This only reinforces the liberal media bias meme.

Please note, I don't believe there is a liberal bias in the national corporate media, I just believe they are incredibly lazy and largely incompetent.

Kurtz must be a good company man because he continues by dutifully shilling what apparently are the official NEWSWEEK talking points; that other detainees have made the desecration allegation and other abuses have happened at Abu Ghraib, so it is therefore reasonable to assume the unsubstantiated allegations must be true.

The Newsweek item that triggered the violence also said the forthcoming report would describe "one woman who took off her top, rubbed her finger through a detainee's hair and sat on the detainee's lap."

That's wonderful! Unfortunately, it appears the report is not going to describe any desecration of the Koran, the allegation of which has provided great political capital to our enemies and the enemies of democracy in many nations. What we appear to have here is our own (American) media organizations willingly executing the propaganda regimen of those groups who have publicly stated a plan to exploit the Abu Ghraib abuses for their own ends. I'm not suggesting that actual abuses be withheld, but I don't believe real journalists should allow themselves to be used as a demoralizing propaganda tool by the various groups that have promised use them for just that purpose.


Blogger Mike said...

How can you not see a liberal bias? Maybe there is no organized conspiracy, but clearly the media is full of people who lean left and editorialize their stories to meet their personal ideals.

The other day I was watching the Today Show on NBC. They were talking about the big military offensive in Iraq near the Syrian border. The voice of Campbell Brown was describing how operations were coming to an end and US Soldiers had killed or detained several hundred "insurgents." So far not so bad except for using the word insurgent to describe foreigners who came to Iraq to kill Americans, but what do they show for video to go with this? They show Iraqi citizens going through rubble looking for personal items in their house that was destroyed in the mission. The message is clear. America is a bunch of bullies who go around destroying innocent people's houses and lives in order to catch a few thugs.

7:04 AM  

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