Monday, May 16, 2005
According to ABC, Newsweek's Report was Fake; But We Are, at Least, Worthy of Derision
One small item, not a full-blown investigative or cover story, just one small 320-word item inside Newsweek has caused reverberations across the globe. Now, two weeks after that first publication, Newsweek acknowledges errors in a 1,500-word correction, but at least 15 people are dead and many more are injured. It is a story about journalism, but it is also a story about the standing of the United States in the Muslim world.
You have to ask yourself, why did this story take? For many it is easy to explain; it’s because in the minds of the people who have expressed outrage it was so believable. We have heard a continuous trickle of reports from Guantanamo Bay, where some 520 detainees (primarily picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan) remain. There have been stories from former detainees about lack of respect for Islam on the part of guards, and even from a former translator at Guantanamo, Eric Saar, about the sexual humiliation of detainees by female American guards and interrogators. So when Newsweek reported that a U.S. military investigation had found that interrogators had flushed a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, down the toilet, for a lot of people it fit a pattern. Protests ensued and people died. The protests were particularly large in Afghanistan and Pakistan, two allies of the United States in the war on terror. So were the protests opportunistic efforts on the part of the opposition in those countries or do they reflect a real sense of outrage? Probably both.
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