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May 24, 2005
Isikoff: Deadly Mistake Will Be A "Blip"

Michael Isikoff appeared on the Charlie Rose show last night to discuss his now-discredited story about flushed Qu'rans at Guantanamo Bay. According to the AP, he acknowledged that his report had some role in the rioting that killed almost twenty people in the Middle East, but then predicted that the incident would just be a historical footnote:

Michael Isikoff, addressing the furor in an interview broadcast Monday night on "The Charlie Rose Show," said he regretted the possibility that his article, which has been blamed for violent protests in Muslim countries, may have spurred riots.

"It was terrible what happened," he told Rose. "Even if it was just a little bit that we contributed to the violence that went on over there, that was awful, terrible." ...

Isikoff said that he thought the error had harmed the magazine. "I think it has clearly done some temporary damage," he said. "It's thrown us off our game for a little bit," he said. "I think this will end up being a blip."

Isikoff doesn't sound terribly remorseful, at least not from Desmond Butler's report for the AP. He continued to blame the Pentagon for not stopping the report or objecting to it, and complained about the tightening of controls for anonymous sourcing that his false report generated at Newsweek:

He said that the reporters had provided the article in full to a senior Defense Department official. The official asked for a change of wording on a separate issue, but said nothing about the details concerning the Quran. ...

In its edition published Monday, Newsweek outlined new policies for the use of anonymous sources. Isikoff said that changes will include a push to get more material from sources put on the record.

"I got to tell you, as somebody who has reported for a long time on the intelligence and law enforcement field, that's going to be tough," he told Rose. "Some of the best stories that I've gotten, that others have written about this administration, about the previous administration, you have to rely on anonymous sources."

It's a good thing that Newsweek keeps issuing apologies while Isikoff keeps insisting that he did nothing wrong. Otherwise, people might get the idea that nothing really has changed with the mainstream media or that they haven't learned any lesson from their highly-publicized incidents of false reporting, like the Killian memos, Eason Jordan's accusations of military assassinations of journalists, or the desecration of Qu'rans.

If Newsweek sincerely meant what it has repeatedly said in its apologies and explanations, why is Isikoff not on board and still shifting blame to everyone but himself? Shouldn't these statements get him fired at some point, even if running false stories obviously doesn't get that result?

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 24, 2005 6:46 AM

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Tracked on May 24, 2005 2:52 PM

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