Wednesday, May 18, 2005


A nominee for wanker of the day. The envelope please...

Jon Friedman of CBSMarketWatch writes I suspect that [Newsweek] will regain much of its journalistic credibility -- eventually. But at this point, the wounds are too fresh and run too deep for its executives to harbor any realistic hope of achieving a quick fix. The mess started when Newsweek published a story in its May 9 issue saying that American military representatives at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba had desecrated the sacred Quran in front of Muslim detainees. Not long afterward, rioting broke out in Afghanistan, and Newsweek was blamed. At least 15 people were killed and dozens were injured. While other miscues by the American media over the years have proved embarrassing to their organizations and the journalism profession as a whole, this was the rare case in which a story carried such clear fatal consequences. ... Ever since, Newsweek's top editors and reporters have been more conspicuous on the air than Jane Fonda. ... Taking responsibility for the mistake was essential for Newsweek, which has been one of the most decorated magazines around, to rebuild its credibility in the U.S. America is a forgiving nation. Once someone admits an honest mistake, we are frequently inclined to accept it and move on. What the public -- and, especially, the media -- won't tolerate is any appearance of a cover-up. Famous people from President Nixon to Martha Stewart (now there's a pairing for the ages, eh?) have found this out, the hard way. ... While [some Republican monkey who wrote to Friedman's] anger is genuine and well articulated, eventually I think that most fair-minded people will be willing to forgive Newsweek. They'll conclude that Newsweek's gaffe occurred as a result of extreme journalistic sloppiness (and the foolishness of trusting an unreliable and unnamed source of information).The wild card is the polarization of America itself these days. For what it's worth, the emails I've received from readers about this story comes in two forms: right-wingers blaming Newsweek for inflaming anti-American feelings around the world and left-wingers insisting the magazine will be proven correct (sounding, ironically, like the right-wingers who used to swear to me that we WOULD someday find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even though every shred of evidence suggested the opposite).... Wank, wank, wank! Do your blood pressure a favor. Tell Mr. Friedman what you think of him.
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