I read Norman Mailer’s blog about the “Newsweek” Koran story, and I don’t think you have to go anywhere close to that dark a place to find this deeply disturbing. The White House press secretary is accusing “Newsweek” of causing “lasting damage” to the image of the United States abroad. Makes me wonder if Mr. McClellan has read any of the Pew reports of late, since they make it clear that one is hard-pressed to find any country, anywhere where the negative rating of America doesn’t far exceed the positive.
Let’s ask why the Koran story was credible in the first place. Might it have something to do with the accurately reported (in words and pictures) horrible actions that took place at Abu Ghraib, and allegedly at Guantanamo Bay? Might those events be the source of “lasting damage” to our reputation abroad, especially among Muslim people?
And what’s with the notion that an independent media has an obligation to “help repair the damage?” That obligation is our government’s.
What the media does have an obligation to do is to report accurately and I am in the camp of believers that setting tighter policies (as the NY Times is doing) on the use of anonymous sources is a good thing, especially in a world where hewing to the line of credible, objective reporting is critical to an informed electorate. But, (and disclaimer here: I know Mark Whitaker, the editor of “Newsweek” from having served on the board of the Magazine Publishers Association for two decades, and have always found him to be not only a top notch editor, but a man of high integrity), “Newsweek” has amply distinguished itself as a member of the responsible press over many years, and is hardly the poster child for biased reporting, if the administration was truly looking for one.