Why I think this is a big deal

In the comments section of a previous post, I pointed out I hadn’t used the “Newsweek Lied, People Died” line and that I didn’t really think that Newsweek intentionally lied about the Koran desecration story.

The commenter responded:

Oops, sorry Murdoc, didn’t notice that you didn’t use the phrase.

Anyway, I also have a beef with that line because I don’t think being wrong is the same as lying, as ACE has said above. However, lots out there seem to be pretending it is, and that Newsweek is being unpatriotic. [emphasis mine]

I don’t think Newsweek intentionally lied, but I NEVER said that I thought they weren’t unpatriotic.

In fact, I finally believe 100% that they are totally unpatriotic.

If you read my first post on this subject, you’ll see that I originally meant to write that Newsweek absolutely should never have published that Koran flushing report EVEN IF TRUE.

Please note that I’m not calling for government or military censorship…I’m calling for Newsweek to act patriotically.

Even if true, publishing that story could have no other effect than to harm American people and interests. Even if true, publishing that report was sure to set back progress in Afghanistan by months or more. They knew this.

They claim not to have known it, but that means they’re asking us to believe that they’re stupid. I DO actually believe that they are, in fact, stupid. But not because of the reasons they give.

To publish that report you would have to not only not support the war and not support the troops, you would have to not support the efforts to rebuild Afghanistan and to not support the Afghans that stand to benefit from the rebuilding.

You would have to not support those things SO STRONGLY that you would be willing to threaten the measurable success that has been achieved thus far. You would be willing to threaten the very lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the lives of American citizens in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the lives of pro-American Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and the lives of those caught in the crossfire.

All because you don’t like the guy in the Oval Office.

And remember…that’s all true if the story IS TRUE.

They published it even though they couldn’t verify that it was. I consider that to be even more unpatriotic.

The commenter continued:

It is not the purpose of the press to be the govt’s sounding board. Are you suggesting that the Press review with the govt before it comes out with something damaging? Where does one draw the line?

Well, I would suggest that the press review with the government before it comes out with something damaging, if only to verify that it, in fact is true. Especially in a time of war, though, the press has an obligation to the American people, doesn’t it? The common good?

Where does one draw the line?

Running this story has no measurable effect other than to enrage enemies of America, swell their numbers, and steel their resolve. It will cost American lives.

That’s over the line. That’s unpatriotic.

UPDATE: In case you think I’m going overboard on calling Newsweek “unpatriotic”, they are now claiming to have been acting “in good faith“. Not only unrepentant. Acting like they were trying to do good.

UPDATE 2: I reworded that “NEVER said that I didn’t think…” paragraph. Too many negative negatives made me say what I wasn’t saying, or something. I think.


  1. hrm…possibly ‘overboard’. why? StrategyPage had this to say: ‘Actually, the Koran desecration story had been mentioned twice before in major American media (the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.) Nothing happened as a result, so maybe the Newsweek editor was confident that nothing bad would happen this time. But playing with fire will eventually lead to tragedy. The Newsweek story was picked up by a Pakistani politician, who made a lot of noise with it, that led to the deaths and unrest in Pakistan and Afghanistan.’ thus if what they say is true, this is really more of the fault of foreign politicians. BUt this still does not excuse the U.S media entirely as they really aught to double check everything.

  2. p.s. By ‘fault’, I mean the rioting and other unfortuneateness. by ‘foreign politician’, I mean Afghan and Pakistani Clerics and their government friends.

  3. Sam: I’ve seen that Koran desecration has been a news item before, though it’s not clear to me if it’s the same ‘incident’ or unrelated allegations of the same thing. In either case, I don’t think the stories should have been published for the reasons that I’ve given. Just because it didn’t happen once or twice or ten times previously, the noticeable result (if any) is going to be negative and threaten our troops and interests. Newsweek doesn’t get a pass because the WaPo and the WSJ published similar stories previously. If that’s their defense, I respond with: ‘So why did they publish it, then? Try, try, again?’

  4. Is it only unpatriotic to do something that could harm America if it, in fact, does cause that harm? If I, an American, call the USA ‘the great Satan’, is it unpatriotic? How about if no one else hears me? How about if the only people who hear me agree with me? How about if people who disagree with me hear me, but they think I’m just joking? I think the answers are ‘yes’, ‘yes’, ‘yes’, and ‘yes’. It’s the act that’s unpatriotic.

  5. That name-calling maybe wasn’t the best example of what I’m saying. What if, instead of calling America names, I reveal the time and location of the next secret Marine op? No harm can be caused if no one else hears me, as no one can act on it in any way. But the other options (heard by like-minded people or heard by people who don’t believe me) are both unpatriotic. And Newsweek knows that some people who read it believe what they write. Though that number has probably shrunk noticably…

  6. I will grant that it’s different if it’s a widespread story already in the spotlight. I don’t think anyone was ‘unpatriotic’ for covering the Abu Gharib story, for instance, after it broke and was plastered all over already. Unless they were simply piling on and adding fuel to the fire rather than covering it impartially, anyway. I don’t think that’s the case with Newsweek here, but if it was I’ll have to revise my stance. Obviously I’m still forming some thoughts as time goes on…

  7. hrm…from teh dictionary: ‘unpatriotic adj : showing lack of love for your country [syn: disloyal] [ant: patriotic]’ Since I don’t know if NewsWeek realised that the story had run in other rags, I can’t say unequivocally that they’ve been unpatrioticly repeating seditious rumors. They probably did though…unless they are being extra cheap lately, it being a business and all. Since I rarely give much credence to conspiracy theories; I’ll just call them undiplomatic in the typical american fahsion of lazyness in ignoring the potential for extreme responses of foreign sensibilites. Or in short: stupid.

  8. Well, I beleive that threatening the safety of your troops and citizens, not to mention national policy, shows ‘lack of love for your country’. And it certainly seems ‘disloyal’ to me, though I don’t know that it is really treasonous. In the legal sense, anyway. We agree on ‘stupid’, though. Thanks for commenting, Sam.

  9. really though I just wanted to point out the Strategypage article…probably should have just emailed it to you. oh well.

  10. I agree that a reputable News magazine should exercise discretion in dealing with issues like this … but come on man, ‘don’t publish, be patriotic?’ You’re selfish. Worldpeace, Ben

  11. I’m selfish? Because I think it’s unpatriotic to publish news that can have only a detrimental effect on national policy and the lives of American troops and citizens? Never mind the lives of any non-Americans? Let me make sure I’ve got this right: I’m selfish because I want Newsweek to voluntarily refrain from publishing news that will result in the deaths of American soldiers? It’s just fine for Newsweek to publish that report. Knowing full well that it will harm American policy. Knowing full well that it will jeopardize the lives of American soliders. Knowing full well that it could mean direct attacks on American ciitzens. Knowing full well that many others will be caught in the crossfire. It’s just fine to go ahead and publish (especially if it can harm Bush and the military, which has obviously been a priority for Newsweek). But I’m selfish if I expect an American publication to refrain from doing so, and I’m selfish if I think they’re unpatriotic when they don’t. Sorry. That’s just plain stupid.

  12. Stupid? Yes, many in the mainstream media are just that – stupid. Unpatriotic? I guess that really depends on what they consider to be their country. I often feel that many journalists (and other elitists) don’t think they are a part of ‘these here United States.’ They don’t mind reaping the benefits from the US; but heaven forbid they do anything to help the US – they consider themselves to be ‘world citizens.’

  13. Running this story has no measurable effect other than to enrage enemies of America, swell their numbers, and steel their resolve. It will cost American lives.’ WELL SAID MURDOC. Newsweek, as most corporate entities, is run by number crunching bean counters. PROFIT is the bottom line and they will play the NATIONAL ENQUIRER’ game if they think it will bring in lots of moola!

  14. I don’t know – Its odd to think that we must censor such news because muslims are so prone to riot and violence at the very idea of some desecration of anything Holy ( except when its the ‘insurgents’ of Iraq blowing up Mosques with countless Korans inside ) that maybe we need to avoid such stories I guess one has to expect violence and death from radicals, one must realise that the population in this region will not be rational. If these people would not always respond with such vehemence, then this would not have been such an issue in the first place. But I guess you have to know that when you play with fire, someone is going to get burned.

  15. Running this story has no measurable effect other than to enrage enemies of America, swell their numbers, and steel their resolve. It will cost American lives.’ So under your thought process, Robert Bell of Philadelphia, should not of published Common Sense by Thomas Payne? Many died partially as a result of that publication. Now I have heard time & time again on how big media is out to get Bush or whoever. That big media blocks out the ‘right’ news or positive news. I for one, tend to agrees with the statement that the major media outlets tend to be harsh with Bush et al. But once you start on that NewsWeek needs to be patriotic and self sensor… you lose me. I May not like Newsweek, and I think all who were involved in this story should be fired and their assets sold with the proceeds to go the families of those who’s lives were lost. I will not challenge Newsweek’s right to be stupid. Under the guise of wanting a ‘patriotic’ press.

  16. The press should under no conditions be restricted. We know this will never happen, and there are good reasons for doing so. The govt cannot have control over what the people hear, and what facts the people should see. This simply cannot happen in a democracy. If people put patriotism ahead of free press, then you do not have a democracy anymore. Again, it is not the mission of the press to be patriotic. At least, not the way you define it. If a publication finds evidence of abuse, it has full right to make it public, because the ABUSE itself is the thing that is unAmerican, not the printing of the article. This is a case where the press turned out to be wrong. This is a sad fact, but that does not give anyone the right to control what is shown to the public. And if it is damaging to the govt, that says something about the govt.

  17. James, you’re missing not one, but TWO key points in your post. Go back and re-read the quote from Murdoc that you put in your own post. Note carefully the phrase ‘no measurable effect other than’. That’s the key part. Yes, Thomas Payne’s Common Sense mad people mad. Are you claiming that it had no other effect than than that? None at all? Seriously? I would suggest that Common Sense does not, in fact, fall into the same catagory that you claim it does, that being items that have NO OTHER EFFECT than to anger people. I would argue that the Newsweek piece is a whole different can of worms. Second, you at first mention media ‘self-censoring’, but then in your last line, you talk about Newsweek’s RIGHT to be stupid. The argument is NOT that they should have the RIGHT to publish this. The argument is that they should have the SENSE not to publish some things. (Ignoring the debate on whether this particular piece falls into that catagory.)

  18. I’ve got to agree with the term ‘unpatriotic’ being applied to Newsweek. Of course the press should not be censored or under government control- but they are responsible for what they print and if they are going to print an inflammatory story harmful to the world standing of the US and the safety of US citizens at home and abroad, then surely they should make sure the they have FACTS, not rumour. There are limits to protected speech are there not? After the riots when they contacted their source he claimed to be ‘no longer sure’ of the story. If there was doubt as to the veracity of the story why was it not further researched? They made no effort whatsoever to check their story, to corroborate this testimony with any other witnesses or reports of the incident. No doubt this is because they believed the accusations- their liberal bias towards thinking the worst of the US military evidently. This same bias is coming to the fore now with the MSM backing Newsweek with more ‘fake but accurate’ arguments, exactly as they did with the Rathergate incident. So far none have mentioned the Muslim detainee desecrating the Koran- an incident which is one record. And we can also see the bias of the Muslim world against the ‘Great Satan’- people died in riots when they believed Americans were guilty, but they are silent over the Muslim detainee doing exactly the same thing. BTW, I believe previous reports of Koran desecration were unsubstantiated claims from ex-detainees- the difference with Newsweek is that their source was in government service.

  19. KTLA The old saying that the victors write the history has some bearing on the matter. I would bet a box of donuts that tha ‘loyalists’ and the Brittish, viewed ‘Common Sense’ as a treasonous publication, that only served to inflame passions. As for the Newsweek article. One could argue, that right or wrong, the Newsweek article brings to the forefront the issue of prisoner treatment at Guantanamo Bay. A few quotes from the delcaration of independence might enlighten the issue. ‘He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power… For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: Per Wolfowitz ‘Enemy combatants, whether they are American citizens or not American citizens, are subject to the same provisions of the laws of war …You can hold an enemy combatant until the end of the conflict.’ ‘For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:’ This week, the government refused to comply with a federal judge who ordered that he be given the underlying evidence justifying Hamdi’s treatment. The Justice Department has insisted that the judge must simply accept its declaration and cannot interfere with the president’s absolute authority in ‘a time of war.’ I would argue, that Murdoc’s statment of ‘no measurable effect other than’ is a statement of Monday morning quarterbacking only compounded by his assertion, that it would be wrong to print the story, even if it was true. As heirs of the founding fathers, I would hope that we would be strong enough to deal with the truth of our conduct, be it right or wrong. Useing the concept of patriotism, as measuring stick to guide what is published, is just as bad as the polical correctness espoused by liberals. Only with the free expression of ideas can our country remain free.

  20. James: ‘Only with the free expression of ideas can our country remain free.’? This wasn’t a story about the ‘idea’ that flushing the Koran down the toilet was bad. This was a story that said a US government report said we were doing it. This is a war. You don’t go publishing things during a war that help the enemy if you are patriotic. What if Newsweek had the time and location of the D-Dan invasion? Is it their duty as journalists who write the truth to publish it? What if this reporter sees a government report about the next Marine offensive in Iraq? Should he publish it so that our country can remain free? A story about the rightness (or wrongness) of an invasion or Normandy or about the need for (or lack thereof) another Marine offensive in Iraq is fine. This wasn’t editorial. This wasn’t opinion. This wasn’t ‘we shouldn’t desecrate holy Muslim things, as some have said we are’. This was ‘the US government is desecrating holy Muslin things right now’. Let me say it again, as very few people seem to understand: Publishing things that strengthen your enemy is not patriotic. Maybe you think it’s important that the truth get out there. That’s fine. Just don’t whine when I call you unpatriotic. I’m not calling for censorship of the press. I happen to think that a free press is vital to democracy and freedom. I’m calling for common sense and loyalty to your nation. Newsweek is apparently above that quaint sort of thing.

  21. I think the word you’re looking for is Prudence, not Patriotism. Journalists, by trade, have no loyalty to nation, state, or ideology. They exist solely to make money. Don’t think for one second a journalist, any journalist, whether they be from Fox NEWS or the NY Times cares AT ALL about the soldier in Iraq. When I first heard the story my initial reaction was that it was bullshit. The Muslims heard that Newsweek (of all publications, Newsweek?) reported on the desecration of the Quran at X-Ray. I mean COME ON GIMME A BREAK!!! ITS BULLSHIT! Human beings, whoever the hell you are, have a bit larger quota of prerequisite for acting moronic. Lets not act like Gitmo Camp X-Rape isn’t The Spanish Inquisition all over again. The situation is deplorable, make no qualms, simply attempt to resolve it as rapidly as you can. Worldpeace, Ben