May 18, 2005
A TAM Mea Culpa
When doing media criticism or criticism of the critics one should always start with original documents. I gave Michael Isikoff and Newsweek a bit of a pass on the Quran toilet story when I wrote:
Given the current state of sloppy journalism I sympathize. How many stories have we accepted as fact from just one annoynmous source? Too many to count, I'd say. Are MSM critics like Michelle Malkin and Captain Ed blovating simply to score more points? I'm sure both those fine writers have gone off on a story with just one source. Heck, Captain Ed became quite popular in Canada from a source giving him banned court testmony.
I failed to read what Isikoff actually wrote:
Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash.
The Quran toilet incident was never confirmed and Newsweek admits it. The closest the news magazine got was a "senior person at the Pentagon" didn't object to that part of the story. That's not a confirmation. That's not even a "no comment." Newsweek didn't follow up. Instead they ran with the story and deadly riots broke out.
I'd like to know if interrogators did flush a Quran down a toilet. It wouldn't be the first time the U.S. has been accused of the deed. Then we could have a serious discussion about whether such an act should be considered torture (I wouldn't) and whether the U.S. military has done too much or not enough in holding terrorists. Bryan Preston points out there was an unconfirmed report that a Islamist prisoner stuffed pages of a Quran down a toilet in protest. So, I stand by my criticism that webloggers shouldn't be seeking another trophy for their MSM wall. They should be seeking the truth at Gitmo. Newsweek has shot itself in the foot and discredited itself. Let them bandage their own wounds.
"News Weak and the Restless Natives"
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]