May 15, 2005



From Reuters (Via YahooNews): Newsweek says erred in Koran desecration report.

Newsweek magazine on Sunday said it erred in a May 9 report that said U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article. ...

[Editor Mark] Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Koran down the toilet.

The report sparked angry and violent protests across the Muslim world from Afghanistan, where 16 were killed and more than 100 injured, to Pakistan to Indonesia to Gaza.

Link via Glenn Reynolds who comments:

Two points: (1) If they had wrongly reported the race of a criminal and produced a lynching, they'd feel much worse -- which is why they generally don't report such things, a degree of sensitivity they don't extend to reporting on, you know, minor topics like wars; and (2) If a blogger had made a similar mistake, with similar consequences, we'd be hearing about Big Media's superior fact-checking and layers of editors.

People died, and U.S. military and diplomatic efforts were damaged, because -- let's be clear here -- Newsweek was too anxious to get out a story that would make the Bush Administration and the military look bad.

Meanwhile, Reuters also reports (via YahooNews): Afghan clerics threaten Muslim holy war over Koran (Hat tip Little Green Footballs)

A group of Afghan Muslim clerics threatened on Sunday to call for a holy war against the United States in three days unless it hands over military interrogators reported to have desecrated the Koran. ...

The clerics in the northeastern province of Badakhshan said they wanted President Bush to handle the matter honestly "and hand the culprits over to an Islamic country for punishment."

"If that does not happen within three days, we will launch a jihad against America," said a statement issued by about 300 clerics, referring to Muslim holy war, after meeting in the main mosque in the provincial capital, Faizabad.

Many bloggers are commenting on the Newsweek story, and Michelle Malkin has lots of relevant links.

UPDATE I: From CNN: Newsweek backs off Quran desecration story. (Hat tip Memeorandum)

Newsweek magazine backed away Sunday from a report that U.S. interrogators desecrated copies of the Quran while questioning prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay naval base -- an account blamed for sparking violent riots in Afghanistan. ...

[Newsweek reporter Michael] Isikoff found two other references to Qurans being tossed into toilets or latrines, the magazine reported.

U.S. military officials said such claims are standard terrorist tactics.

"If you read the al Qaeda training manual, they are trained to make allegations against the infidels," Army Col. Brad Blackner told Newsweek.

UPDATE II -- May 16: The Newsweek debacle is everywhere. Here are a few samples (bloggers' links below typically contain more links to other relevant information and commentary):

The Washington Post: Newsweek Apologizes: The item was principally reported by Michael Isikoff, Newsweek's veteran investigative reporter. "Obviously we all feel horrible about what flowed from this, but it's important to remember there was absolutely no lapse in journalistic standards here," he said. "We relied on sources we had every reason to trust and gave the Pentagon ample opportunity to comment. . . . We're going to continue to investigate what remains a very murky situation."

The New York Times: Newsweek Apologizes for Report of Koran Insult: "We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Mark Whitaker, Newsweek's editor, wrote in the issue of the magazine that goes on sale at newsstands today. ... But Whitaker said in an interview later: "We're not retracting anything. We don't know what the ultimate facts are."

Roger L. Simon: More on Newsweek's Bloody Shirt: BTW, I may seem to be taking this lightly, but there is a strong argument to be made that this is more serious than Rathergate. This is journalism at its most insidious and dangerous.

Glenn Reynolds: here, here and here -- from the latter: Really, I don't want to hear another word about the superior "responsibility" of Big Media. Not one more word.

Michelle Malkin: Who Was Newsweek's Source?

Charles Johnson: Daily Kos Takes the Jihadi Line (featuring a link to the Al Qaeda training manual referenced above): Those Kooky Kos Kidz are convinced that the “rightwing machine” is unjustly smearing Newsweek magazine, and they come out strongly in favor of taking the word of released jihadis whenever they complain of mistreatment.

UPDATE III: CNN's top story online (5pm CST): Newsweek retracts Quran story.

Newsweek magazine issued a retraction Monday of a May 9 report on the alleged desecration of the Quran at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The White House earlier in the day expressed puzzlement over why Newsweek did not fully retract the story in its current issue, released Sunday.

UPDATE IV: The Political Teen managed to catch sight of our "Flushed" cartoon in a montage for MSNBC's "Coast to Coast" program -- click here and scroll down.

UPDATE V -- May 17: From FoxNews: Newsweek: Mistakes Made in 'Good Faith'.

One day after retracting a story that said U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran (search), a top Newsweek editor acknowledged the magazine made "serious mistakes" but suggested to FOX News that no one would be fired over the incident.

Also from FoxNews: Questions Remain After Newsweek Admission.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said American embassies in the Middle East would be tasked with spreading word of Newsweek's admission in an effort to convince Muslims that the report was wrong.

Still, "the electrons are out there," Boucher said. Some officials worried that the Newsweek article, even after the news agency's retraction, would nonetheless continue to fuel the view in the Middle East that the United States has little to no regard for Muslims and Arabs.

UPDATE VI: This cartoon appears in today's Investor's Business Daily.

Posted by Forkum at May 15, 2005 05:51 PM