.The story relied upon an anonymous source, one that hasn’t surfaced even to this day. Only until after more than 15 people died in protests in Afghanistan, did Newsweek give an insincere mea culpa. Newsweek has the unusual honor of having a higher body count than conceal and carry.
Richard M. Smith, Newsweek’s editor in chief, wrote a letter to its readers for the May 30 issue apologizing for the violence and the deaths. In the letter he writes, “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.”
So, Newsweek was wrong, then? Not according to Smith, who later writes that he believes Newsweek did everything right in relation to the story.
“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,” he wrote.
In the letter, Smith also explains how he is changing the criteria for using anonymous sources in his magazine. He wrote, “The burden of proof should lie with the reporters and their editors to show why a promise of anonymity serves the reader. From now on, only the editor or the managing editor, or other top editors they specifically appoint, will have the authority to sign off on the use of an anonymous source.”
I found this most humorous. Smith, in his own magazine, is telling the world, “We’re sorry, we’re changing our standards, but we still did nothing wrong.”
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, after his country was rocked by multiple riots over the Newsweek story, had this to say:
“Of course, we are as Muslims very much unhappy with Newsweek bringing a matter so serious in the gossip column. It’s really something that one shouldn’t do, that responsible journalism shouldn’t do at all.”
I love the fact that the president of Afghanistan knows more about what constitutes good journalism than the editor in chief of Newsweek.
Newsweek is not only a place for bad journalism. It’s now going around the blogosphere that Newsweek is also guilty of sedition against the United States abroad.
On February 2, in Japan, Newsweek published a cover article, “The day America died.” Accompanying the article was a picture of a soiled American flag in a trash can with its staff split in twain.
The English international version of the magazine had on the cover a picture of President George W. Bush, with the more innocuous title, “America leads, but is anyone following?”
Both versions had the article written by Andrew Moravcsik, titled, “Dream on, America.” The article was a rant about how the rest of the world is rejecting the U.S. way of life.
This would all be fine in my eyes, except Newsweek did not publish that article in its U.S. version. The article is completely missing, and the cover of that edition had on it a collection of actors – the Oscars being in the news at the time.
Very clearly, Newsweek has no problem undermining the United States abroad. It will publish anti-American articles and put pictures of desecrated American flags on its cover. Newsweek just doesn’t have the furtitude to pull these stunts in the United States.
The only thing Newsweek has the courage to do in the United States is to publish stories with bad sources and give fake apologies when those lead to death. It’s sedition, plain and simple.
Marty Andrade welcomes comments at [email protected]