Wednesday, May 18, 2005
On this day:

The Newsweek Flush

Portland Press: Newsweek's blurb on Quran a major media mistake (No shit? -- MN) AIM: False Newsweek Story Could Provoke Anti-American Terrorism; AIM Urges Housecleaning at Newsweekly Hindustan Times: Apology by Newsweek not enough: Minister Townhall: Newsweak? by Thomas Sowell A bad year for the press Linda Chavez The Newsweek riots by Rich Lowry It's not just Newsweek by Michelle Malkin A Dan Rather rerun by Brent Bozell Judicial battle just got nastier by David Limbaugh Opinion Journal: Journalists and the Military
This is part of a basic media mistrust of the military that goes back to Vietnam and has shown itself with a vengeance during the Iraq conflict and the war on terror. Long gone are the days when AP's Ernie Pyle--an ace reporter by the standards of any era--could use the pronoun "we" in describing the Allied struggle against the Axis. In its place is a kind of permanent adversary media culture that goes beyond reporting the war news--good or bad as it should--and tends to suspect the worst about the military and American purposes. The best example of this mentality has been the coverage of Abu Ghraib, which quickly morphed from one disgusting episode into media suspicion of the motives and morals of the entire military chain of command. Certainly the photos of sick behavior on the nightshift by a unit from the Maryland Army Reserve were news. But they were first exposed by the Army itself, through the Taguba investigation that was commissioned months before the photos were leaked. The press corps nonetheless spent weeks developing a "torture narrative" that has since been thoroughly discredited, both by the independent panel headed by former Defense Secretary Jim Schlesinger and by every court martial to look at the matter. But rather than acknowledge that perhaps the coverage had been wrong, the media reaction has been to declare the many probes to be part of a wildly improbable cover-up. As we say, much of this media pose goes back to Vietnam, and the betrayal that the press corps felt about body counts and the "five o'clock follies." Reporters like Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam made their careers by turning into the war's fiercest critics and creating a culture of suspicion that the government always lies. Mr. Sheehan's Vietnam memoir is titled, "A Bright Shining Lie." And for many of today's young reporters it is a kind of moral template. We aren't saying that reporters shouldn't be skeptical, and they certainly have a duty to report when a war is going badly. Where the press corps goes wrong is in always assuming the worst about military and government motives. Thus U.S. intelligence wasn't merely wrong about Saddam Hussein's WMD, it intentionally "lied" about it to sell an illegitimate war. Thus, too, an antiwar partisan named Joe Wilson with a basically unimportant story about uranium and Niger is hailed as a truth-telling whistle-blower. And reports from Seymour Hersh in late 2001 that the U.S was losing in Afghanistan set off a "quagmire" theme only days before the fall of the Taliban. The readiness of Newsweek to believe a thinly sourced allegation about the Koran at Guantanamo is part of the same mindset. We have all been reading a great deal lately about both the decline of media credibility, and the decline of both TV news viewership and newspaper circulation. Any other industry looking at such trends would conclude that perhaps there is a connection. Certainly a press corps that wants readers to forgive its own mistakes might start by showing a little more respect and understanding for the men and women who risk their lives to defend the country.
[Emphasis mine.]