“People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?” – Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita on the unnamed source who reported Qur’ans were desecrated in Camp X-Ray
The Newsweek report of Qur’ans being flushed down the toilet in Guantanamo Bay to “torture” al Qaeda inmates was based on uncorroborated information obtained from an unnamed source. Newsweek issued an explanation and tepid apology for reporting this story. At least 15 people have died in violent demonstrations in Afghanistan, and much ill will against the United States has accumulated. Newsweek’s shoddy reporting harkens us back to the Eason Jordon debacle, where accusations were hurled at American troops with no substantial evidence.
Wretchard points out the logical fallacies committed by Newsweek reporters Michael Isikoff and John Barry, as well as their editors. “Their efforts at “confirmation” yielded a denial and a non-denial from Defense officials, but no confirmation. In predicate calculus, Newsweek asserted P. Their attempts at confirmation yielded ~P and Null. Hence they concluded P, which is wrong, wrong and wrong. It is wrong from the point of view of elementary logic. It would be wrong anywhere, even in the Andromeda Galaxy. But apparently it is right at Newsweek.”
The Newsweek staff is also guilty of being gullible enough to swallow whole al Qaeda’s tactics of crying abuse and torture. The tactics are directly out of al Qaeda’s training manual, and are designed to subvert western governments and their citizens, weaken their resolve and inflame the Muslim world against the West. The following is quoted directly from The al Qaeda Training Manual, Lesson Eighteen, PRISONS AND DETENTION CENTERS, which was seized in a raid in England by the Manchester Metropolitan Police:
1 . At the beginning of the trial, once more the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators] before the judge.
2. Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison.
Al Qaeda’s methods of crying foul while in custody and after released are common knowledge in government and media circles, yet the media consistently snaps up the opportunity to report these stories, without considering the real world consequences that may result. Theories on the media’s motivations vary; the need to “get the scoop” on a sensational story; poor editorial control; political bias and the desire to discredit the Bush administration by demonizing efforts in the War on Terror; an anti-military bias; and anti war bias are but a few. No doubt elements of each exist in some reporters and editors. The Eason Jordan accusations against the military, CBS’ airing of forged documents and the skewed reporting of Abu Ghraib are but a few examples that highlight these biases.
Editor & Publisher Magazine, “America’s Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry” reports the public has a serious problem with the press, while the journalist believe they are doing just fine, thank you (hat tip to Glenn Reynolds). Also detailed is the media’s overwhelming political bias:
A new survey to be released Monday reveals a wide gap on many media issues between a group of journalists and the general public. In one finding, 43% of the public say they believe the press has too much freedom, while only 3% of journalists agree. Just 14% of the public can name “freedom of the press” as a guarantee in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in the major poll conducted by the University of Connecticut Department of Public Policy.
Six in ten among the public feel the media show bias in reporting the news, and 22% say the government should be allowed to censor the press. More than 7 in 10 journalists believe the media does a good or excellent job on accuracy–but only 4 in 10 among the public feel that way. And a solid 53% of the public think stories with unnamed sources should not be published at all.
Perhaps the widest gap of all: 8 in 10 journalists said they read blogs, while less than 1 in 10 others do so. Still, a majority of the news pros do not believe bloggers deserve to be called journalists.
Asked who they voted for in the past election, the journalists reported picking Kerry over Bush by 68% to 25%. In this sample of 300 journalists, from both newspapers and TV, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 3 to 1–but about half claim to be Independent. As in previous polls, a majority (53%) called their political orientation “moderate,” versus 28% liberal and 10% conservative.
Journalists’ definition of “moderate” , just as their penchant for citing unnamed sources, should be taken with several grains or perhaps a tablespoon of salt.
One of the greatest hurdles we face in fighting a nihilistic enemy bent on the destruction of our civilization is not their military prowess, but the inherent biases that exist within our own media elites. The desire to promote their agendas at the expense of the truth or our safety provides a measure of comfort to our enemy, who hopes to divide us from within.
Evan Thomas (a man in the know who stated during the 2004 Presidential election; “The media, I think, wants Kerry to win” ) reports “More allegations, credible or not, are sure to come” with respect to the treatment of detainees in Gitmo. Our politically biased, fact and logic challenged media no doubt will report these allegations, the effects on the War on Terror be damned. They have a message to deliver, and it is a message al Qaeda wishes to be disseminated. That the media do not recognize this or worse, do not care, speaks volumes about their competence to accurately report the news.