May 18, 2005
Posted by scott at May 18, 2005 08:43 AM
As with all other slimy spineless predators, when cornered journalists often attempt to escape in a cloud of ink. The Post this morning featured no fewer than four "yes, it was bad, but..." stories about the Newsweek retraction, one of which was on the front page:
- Yes, it was bad, but what sort of savage kills people over a book??? Which is all well and good, and pointed out here by T and elsewhere by many others. Then again, one of big media's oft-crowed advantages over the blogosphere is their "boots-on-the-ground" resource of on-site journalists. You would think that, with such vaunted knowledge, they would have perhaps known in advance something like this was possible. But be responsible for the consequences? Hey, weren't you listening? They're savages.
- Yes, it was bad, but since congress is weighing in, it's really just politics-as-usual. It's not a story about media irresponsibility and poorly hidden agendas screwing up a complex war effort and getting innocents killed. No sir.
- Yes, it was bad, but isn't the Newsweek editor really a great guy? I mean, this guy's a Journalist. He stands for Truth, Justice, and the Little Guy! He shouldn't be tarred and feathered for allowing an unsubstantiated rumor to be published as fact. Don't you people understand what Journalists do???
- Yes, it was bad, but boy doesn't the White House have a lot of nerve criticising us about anonymous sources?!? Easily the best of the lot, since it proves conclusively that the White House press corps really has succumbed to a twisted form of Stockholm Syndrome. How else do we explain their inability to distinguish between a politician and a journalist? That they have suddenly discovered anonymous sources are bad, after having benefitted from their use for years, if not decades, deserves no further comment. Hypocracy is, after all, something they find in other people.
Newsweek lied, people died may in fact be a bit of satire, but it's no worse than what traipses across the editorial pages of print journalism's bastions every week. And unlike last year's television news debacles, to date no one has paid a price for this particular print debacle.
Except perhaps for slightly more than a dozen people in Afghanistan.
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It gets even worse - I was listening to the Pentagon press briefing yesterday and the press corps spent the entire time pushing the spokesman about this issue:
"Are you going to be investigating these allegations?"
"There is no evidence that they're credible allegations. They appear to be completely invented and are lies."
"Yes, but are you going to investigate them?"
"Among the training materials we have from al Quaeda, they speak of this tactic. Basically, the detainees are trained to make all sorts of allegations in order to drum up public sympathy and divert resources. If the allegations they make have no material support or any other credible support, they are not investigated further."
"Yes, but what are you going to do to repair your damaged image in light of this scandal?"
It went on for 30 minutes like this - circular questioning, why did you let this problem happen, etc.
I think the goal right now is for the press to do anything possible to redirect the scandal onto the gov't's shoulders instead of falling on the aforementioned shiny sword.