Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Newsweek Double Standard

The mainstream media (MSM) have one strict, unforgiving standard for the Bush administration and a different loose, understanding standard for Newsweek and the rest of the MSM.

As everyone knows by now, Newsweek printed a story that interrogators at Guantanamo flushed a Koran down a toilet. As a result of the story, Muslims rioted in several locations, and at least 16 people died.

Newsweek displayed a lack of cultural awareness when it printed the story. Newsweek did not anticipate such a strong reaction by many Muslims. Of course, the MSM completely forgives Newsweek for its being understandably blindsided by the Muslims' reaction that could not conceivably have been anticipated. On the other hand, Newsweek and other MSM have castigated the Bush administration when Iraqis and Afghans reacted negatively (as should have been expected, per the MSM) to U.S. military and governmental actions.

Newsweek relied on a usually reliable source and 2 failures by government officials to deny the story. (The source backtracked after the furor broke out, and the failures to deny were most definitely not confirmations of the story.) Of course, the MSM supports Newsweek's understandable reliance on its proper journalistic practices. The MSM even attacks (see here and here) the Bush administration for giving false information to Newsweek and for pressuring Newsweek to retract the story. In other words , when the MSM errs, it must be the fault of the Bush administration.

In contrast, when the Bush administration, along with everyone else on the planet, discovered after the Iraq war that Saddam did not have any WMD, its reliance on the CIA and the intelligence services of Britain, France, Germany, and other nations was misplaced, and the mistake demonstrated that the Bush administration was lying about Iraq's WMD to justify its desire to go to war with Iraq.

The entire episode of the Newsweek story and the MSM spin on it reminds us that the MSM are horribly one-sided and biased. The standard of conduct depends wholly on who the actor is. The Bush administration is held to an impossibly high standard, with no room for mistakes or misjudgments even in uncertain and highly charged situations requiring rapid decisions. But, if Newsweek, CBS, the New York Times, and the rest of the MSM get a story wrong, even if the error is egregious and causes deaths, that is not an indictment of their journalism practices and their thoroughly ingrained bias, but is justifiable to get the fake but accurate story out to beat a deadline.

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