Questions about Newsweek

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

This Newsweek debacle has me really bugged. Something stinks about the whole retraction thing. I’m hoping most readers know what I’m talking about, but in a nutshell, Newsweek magazine reported that U.S. investigators had confirmed that interrogators at Guantánamo Bay had flushed a copy of the Quran down the toilet; the White House demanded a retraction of the entire story because the magazine got certain facts wrong, and then Newsweek retracted. (While it’s still available online, read the whole story for yourself at http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7693014/site/newsweek/.) Most news organizations will only retract a story when the preponderance of a story is faulty, not a few facts—corrections are used in those instances.

But, what was retracted? The entire controversy, at least as I read it, revolves around whether investigators had confirmed that the Quran had been flushed. But the thing is, desecration of the Quran had been reported many times by other media (check out this story on Raw Story, http://rawstory.com/exclusives/newsweek_koran_report_516.htm), including the New York Times, Washington Post and the Guardian. Where was the indignation when these media reported the desecration? What made this story different? Well, the White House had blamed a widespread riot on the story, saying that more than a dozen people had died because of it. Really? Prove it. How many of those folks who’ve had their crappy lives further destroyed by us need a magazine article to throw a riot? At most, it was a finger being pulled out of a dike.

There’s something rotten going on here. I’m as suspicious of Newsweek as the next guy, but this looks like another instance where our government sees an opportunity to dismiss an entire issue by undermining a single fact. I feel like I’m being distracted from something with this news. Could it be the Downing Street memo that’s gotten so much press in Britain?