I am an opinion columnist, but I am still a journalist.
You might not agree with what I have written, but I have never deceived readers with false information. Editor Mark Whitaker and writer Michael Isikoff of Newsweek magazine have disgraced themselves and their magazine by writing an article without real information, and now they have to be punished by being fired from the Newsweek staff.
Isikoff and Whitaker were sloppy and made mistakes that would have flunked them in any basic high school journalism class. Both used one unnamed and unknown government source who made it known to the writer that he or she wasn’t sure about what he claimed to know.
The two Pentagon officials questioned about the story either denied it or said that the probe which the article notes was never used to look into the Quran’s desecration.
The other evidence of Quran desecration was testimony from former detainees, but their testimony shouldn’t be regarded as holy truth because they have a reason to lie and make the United States look as bad as possible.
What was the response to this false article? A week of rioting, 12 dead (as of May 16) and America’s reputation in the Middle East harmed.
Granted, this was not the sole cause of those riots and protests, but this provided useful ammunition for anti-American sentiment in a location that really doesn’t need more, true or made up. Newsweek bears some responsibility for the deaths of those people, as well as tacit responsibility for putting American soldiers in danger through their yellow journalism.
Worst of all, the writer and the magazine staff do not seem to regret their mistake, instead stating that they ‘acted professionally.’
The apology given by writer Isikoff was half-assed at best and was an insult to the journalistic profession; he never truly apologized, but, continued to believe his story was accurate and that he did the right thing.
The editors of Newsweek have refused to accept his resignation, instead stating that he deserves to continue on as a writer.
Then on May 17 at a White House press conference, other reporters suggested that it was censorship and demanded to know what right Press Secretary Scott McClellan and the administration had to put pressure on Newsweek to do anything.
This is hubris and arrogance, the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time.
Not only did their screw-up in reporting result in great harm to American soldiers, American status as well as the deaths of 12 people, but they gave a half-baked apology and will not be punished.
They failed in telling the news fairly and accurately, instead pushing a story with no confirmed sources and a false premise for whatever reason.
So what should happen to the famous news magazine? My opinion is that at the very least, the writer and the editor should be fired in disgrace.
This is no different than what happened to Jayson Blair of the New York Times when it was discovered he made up his stories.
The writer and the editor should receive the same punishment that any other professional would receive had they not done their job. In addition, the magazine should pay restitutions to those who died in the riots its false article caused.
Some people will say that this is censorship because Iskioff and Whitaker told about wrongdoings by the military and the Bush administration.
Nothing could be further from the truth; if such were the case, then Iskioff, who also helped bring Abu Ghraib to life, would have been fired then.
And to those who still think this is censorship, let me ask you to put this in a different context: If Fox News had broken a story like this which proved to be false, would you not demand those responsible to be fired?
Newsweek has a reputation for integrity and honor among news magazines; I personally have read the magazine since I was 11 and began educating myself about world affairs.
The magazine, however, has tainted its reputation and its honor by not only breaking its promise to tell the news accurately, but by refusing to accept blame for its mistake and pushing a story that even the greenest of reporters would say is a bad idea.
Loren S. Casuto is a fourth-year political science major. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Opinion