Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Deeper Reflections on Newsweek

The press is now trying to circle the wagons and blame the Bush Administration for the Newsweek debacle.

Q and O apparently wants to join them. The logic: since the Bush Administration is clearly guilty of all kinds of abuse, its response to any allegation of abuse ought to be shameful silence rather than a self-righteous denial of the specific allegation.

Which to me, seems like arguing that the male gender collectively is sexually violent, and therefore no individual man can really complain when he's falsely accused of rape.

Ideology shapes the countercharges the press is making, but I think the root cause is embarrassment.

They all know what happened to Isikoff could happen to any of them.

Everybody in the DC press corps is rushing out to defend Isikoff as a bulldog reporter who won't stop digging. So why didn't he?

This was supposed to be a fluff piece of filler. This was supposed to be a paragraph blurb. Nobody was supposed to remember this one item as the main item from this week's Newsweek.

So Newsweek didn't push the way it pushes for its headline stories. It didn't flesh out the details such as who flushed the Koran, or who witnessed the event, or where, or when.

And then, it accepted a negative standard of confirmation. Since none of their backchannel sources would anonymously deny the allegation, it was deemed worthy of publication.

So what's Newsweek to do? Stop running the Periscope feature? Print nothing unless it gets the same vetting as the cover story? That would take a lot more work than they, and their competition, is willing to do.

But don't hold your breath waiting for that admission. They'd rather assume that professional journalism is running fine, it must be the subjects of the stories that are being difficult.

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