Captain's Quarters Blog

« First Lady Takes Flack For Newsweek's Lie In Jerusalem | Main | Movie Review: Revenge Of The Sith (Spoilers!) »

May 22, 2005
Newsweek: We're Really Sorry Even Though We Did Nothing Wrong

Newsweek again issued a mea culpa for its false report of Qu'ran desecration, this time issued from Richard Smith, the magazine's editor-in-chief. As in previous statements from the magazine, the apology comes complete with an explanation of how they didn't do anything wrong and that the Pentagon bears responsibility for not stopping them from printing the story:

As most of you know, we have unequivocally retracted our story. In the light of the Pentagon's denials and our source's changing position on the allegation, the only responsible course was to say that we no longer stand by our story.

We have also offered a sincere apology to our readers and especially to anyone affected by violence that may have been related to what we published. To the extent that our story played a role in contributing to such violence, we are deeply sorry. ...

One of the frustrating aspects of our initial inquiry is that we seem to have taken so many appropriate steps in reporting the Guantanamo story. On the basis of what we know now, I've seen nothing to suggest that our people acted unethically or unprofessionally. Veteran reporter Michael Isikoff relied on a well-placed and historically reliable government source. We sought comment from one military spokesman (he declined) and provided the entire story to a senior Defense Department official, who disputed one assertion (which we changed) and said nothing about the charge of abusing the Qur'an. Had he objected to the allegations, I am confident that we would have at the very least revised the item, but we mistakenly took the official's silence for confirmation.

As in Newsweek's earlier missives, they continue to apologive while claiming to lack understanding why the story went wrong. Never do they think to question the basic premise of what they were told. Did it make sense to anyone at Newsweek that interrogators would get better response from Islamists by desecrating their holy book? It didn't pass the smell test for me when I first heard it, and it still doesn't to this day. Newspaper reporters should have some sense of skepticism, especially in direct proportion to the sensationalism of the story, and Isikoff and his editors applied theirs in inverse proportion.

Another question is the newsworthiness of the story. Flushing Qu'rans breaks no Geneva Convention or treaty, and to describe it as "abuse" insults the readers' intelligence, even if true. Smith never addresses the editorial decision that concluded this story worthy of reporting, or on what basis that decision was made. Since Newsweek still has not reported the strict guidelines set down by the military for handling the Qu'ran, it hasn't even the excuse that they found someone violating a military rule. Clearly, Newsweek wanted to run with a sensational story despite a lack of any real newsworthiness, one that would generate a lot of publicity for the magazine. Who made that decision, and why? How will Newsweek stop that from happening again? Smith doesn't address that.

In short, while the pleas for mercy now originate at the top and use more effusive language, the message has remained the same -- we're sorry for doing nothing wrong, we won't explain our editorial decisions in running this story, and it's all the Pentagon's fault for not stopping us. Smith should have saved himself the trouble.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 22, 2005 1:42 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Newsweek: We're Really Sorry Even Though We Did Nothing Wrong:

» More Problems At Newsweek from Ed
Via InstaPundit, we find overseas editions of Newsweek putting the American flag into a garbage can on its cover. (Glenn Reynolds wryly observes, "And yet they're complaining about Koran-in-the-toilet reports.") That Newsweek's international editions m... [Read More]

Tracked on May 22, 2005 2:11 PM

» Newsweek Responds to her Critics from Scared Monkeys
Richard Smith, Chairman and Editor in Chief of Newsweek has an in-depth article on how Newsweek is going to manage the news process. The only problem that I see with the article is the problem that invalidates everything he says. I would bet 100 dollar... [Read More]

Tracked on May 22, 2005 5:45 PM

» Warming hobos with my neeewwwwwseeeek from Blind Mind's Eye
Those unimaginative left liberals can only find one good use for our flag: Unfortunately we have yet to find a good use for Newsweek since no discerning puppy would ever stoop so low as peeing on this rag. Therefore we have only one choice left: ... [Read More]

Tracked on May 23, 2005 8:08 AM

» Newsweek bashing America abroad? from
Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters has this to say: In short, while the pleas for mercy now originate at the top and use more effusive language, the message has remained the same -- we're sorry for doing nothing wrong, we won't explain our editoria... [Read More]

Tracked on May 23, 2005 8:35 AM

» Newsweek Spins Its Wheels from Hard Starboard
Captain Ed reports that the so-called "news" magazine is offering up yet another non-mea culpa insisting that the Pengaton is to blame for the Holy Flush hoax by not imposing its editorial control where the White House press herd warned Scott McClell... [Read More]

Tracked on May 23, 2005 1:25 PM

» Jesus from Jesus
Adan [Read More]

Tracked on March 28, 2006 4:11 AM

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!