Tuesday, May 17, 2005

CNN.com - Newsweek retracts Quran story - May 16, 2005

Mr Fluffy has decided that since as a stuffed toy he doesn't get any, that the sex articles are going to be on hold for a while. The author is personally sad because he had wanted to comment on BBC NEWS | Americas | US chastity ring funding attacked instead. However, Mr Fluffy's dexterious wielding of the taser and threat of death by a thousand stuff toys has 'persuaded' the author to get back to mroe boring stuff.

Anyway, something's rotten in the state of Denmark. we have two rather unpalatable choices here.

1. That traditional media and the 'standards of professional journalism' have taken a beating...again. OR

2. The Bush adminstration is attempting a cover-up and is not being terribly subtle about it. That at least is the perception of the little headline I saw in the scrolly sidebar(?) in CNA.

It's the classic case of one person's word against another. In this instance, it is made even more murky by the problem that a draft of the report was shown to 2 pentagon officials. One declined to comment (which could mean anything), the other challenged a different aspect of the report. In addition to this, Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker claims that it was separately verified by a long time reliable source in the government i.e. 'a senior U.S. governmental official'.

Now assuming that this source is realiable and that it can be verified, then the retraction becomes damning not so much on the ineptitude of Newsweek but on the pressure exerted on them by the Bush Administration. Maybe, just maybe, no one expected the madness to desend on Eastern Afghanistan post publication, so Newsweek has taken the politically expident route of retracting the statement in the hope that things will quieten down.

Because if Newsweek had retracted the statement not because of political pressure but sheer slopiness of fact checking (see Rathergate), then they take a huge snock to the nose. This would be made worse by the fact that they would be a huge cause (or worse, the sole cause) of the riots that have left 15 killed and dozens injured. Given the possibility that this was a reasonable probable situational outcome, then it would equally be an damning indictment of the fact that they lack sufficient proof that would shield them from Executive pressure.

So what are we left with? In the absence of some form of pictorial proof ala Abu-Grahib, or a confession that can be verified by one of the main prepetrators, we are left with a situation that leaves everyone looking bad and the situation looking worse. No manner which way you turn Newsweek looks bad. The Bush Administration is going to have to pull some massive spin to control the situation. But given that it's credibility is at an all time low in the region (actually, considering the success of the Georgia trip, Bush might not be all that unpopular), even if Newsweek completely retracts it story, prints a full issue of apologies and the editor commits hara-kiri, it's hardly going to sway the extremist who are going to believe that Bush is out to get them anyway.

Talk about dragging the surrounding ships down together with you.

*Mr Fluffy sighs sadly and says peace*


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