Even after their initial apology Newsweek still cannot seem to fix the problem that they have created. Newsweek’s original inaccurate reporting on the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay created the atmosphere that triggered several days of rioting in Afghanistan and other countries that lead to the deaths of at least 15 people. Newsweek has since apologized, but it does not seem to be enough.
Editor Mark Whitaker expressed regret over the item in the magazine’s “Periscope” section, saying it was based on a confidential source — a “senior U.S. government official” — who now says he is not sure whether the story is true.
The deadly consequences of the May 1 report, and its reliance on the unnamed source, have sparked considerable anger at the Pentagon. Spokesman Bryan Whitman called Newsweek’s report “irresponsible” and “demonstrably false,” saying the magazine “hid behind anonymous sources which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny. Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage that they have done to this nation or those who were viciously attacked by those false allegations.“
The problem with such inaccurate reporting in an area of the world where American’s are so rarely trusted is that it is nearly impossible to get the genie back in the bottle. Newsweek’s admission of their inaccurate story regarding the desecration of copies of the Koran while questioning prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and their formal apology to that story may not be enough to right their initial wrong. According to CNN, Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan were skeptical after Newsweek backed away from their initial report.
But Muslims said they suspected that pressure from Washington was behind the magazine’s climbdown, Reuters reported Monday.
“We will not be deceived by this,” Islamic cleric Mullah Sadullah Abu Aman told Reuters in the northern Afghan province of Badakhshan.
“This is a decision by America to save itself. It comes because of American pressure. Even an ordinary illiterate peasant understands this and won’t accept it.”
Thank you Newsweek for giving the hate-America at all cost crowd in the Muslim world a voice. Thank you for pandering to the outlandish vile hatred that exists against the US and its troops as they are trying to bring a country back to some semblance of order. Do you people at Newsweek have any idea how much you have undone with one inaccurate story that you never verified?
“Newsweek is backtracking, but it’s not just their report,” said Ghaffar Aziz, a top official of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. “All innocent people released from U.S. custody have said on the record that there was desecration of the Koran.”
A spokesman for the Taliban, who denied any involvement in last week’s Afghan protests, said the original report was true.
“Newsweek is changing its story because of pressure from the U.S. government,” Abdul Latif Hakimi told Reuters by telephone.
One really has to wonder what those at Newsweek were thinking? How does one light a flame to such a tinderbox issue in the Muslim world at this point and time and not comprehend the severity of the consequences? In one of the most pathetic and naive statements I have ever heard from a news organization Newsweek editor Whitaker said:
“I suppose you could say we should have foreseen the consequences of the report, but we didn’t.”
No kidding. Now who knows what it will take to make this situation right? The irresponsibility of the news media strikes again and this time it actually cost lives.
PoliPundit makes a great point: People have died because of this story.
If Newsweek doesn’t understand this, then it’s time for Newsweek to go the way of Dan Rather.
Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and Americans shouldn’t let a self-described “news” magazine get people killed out of recklessness.
Update: Newsweek Retracts Koran Story
However, the problem is its tough to put the genie back in the bottle once it has been opened.
The damage control efforts by Newsweek followed criticism by White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who called it “puzzling” that Newsweek, in his view, had “stopped short of a retraction.”
“That story has damaged the image of the United States abroad and damaged the credibility of the media at home,” McClellan said in an interview. He said that Americans, including President Bush, “share in the outrage that this report was published in the first place.”