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Further Implications of the Newsweek Debacle
By Ed Driscoll · May 16, 2005 06:16 PM · Oh, That Liberal Media!

A commenter on Austin Bay's Weblog (who says he works for a mid-sized newspaper) makes a great point about how Newsweek's story directly impacts how the US as a whole is viewed by many in "the Arab Street" (to dust off a hoary old media cliche):

What the MSM does not seem to "get" down deep in those quiet sessions over a drink that help set the tone of their editorial policies is that large parts of the world do not follow the "we're neutral" meme. In large parts of the world what appears in the press is only at the instructions of the government, and people come to expect it. Freedom of the Press is a viable concept here; not so in large parts of the world, especially in a significant part of the Muslim world.
Meanwhile, Will Collier has harsh words for Newsweek's Michael Isikoff:
As of yet, there's been no public word from the bogus story's authors, Mike "Spikey" Isikoff and John Barry. Since I haven't read anybody else saying it yet, I'll jump up and be the first: they should be fired, at a bare minimum. The editors who allowed the bogus story to run should be fired. Richard M. Smith, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, should resign in disgrace, or be fired himself.

Want to know why I think all that? Even if you put aside the sixteen dead people (and you can't, and shouldn't), my own brother-in-law is stationed in Afghanistan, and thanks to the above ass clowns, his job just got a whole lot harder and more dangerous. [Blogosphere favorite Jim Geraghty, currently living, along with his wife, in Turkey is none-too-thrilled about this turn of events, either--Ed]

Nice work, Spikey. Proud of yourself?

Yeah, all those wonderful credentialed "journalists" and "editors" in the MSM. Great people you got there. Very professional and careful. I'm sure Steve Lovelady and his ilk will be out there defending them all, tooth and nail.

Meanwhile, Will's partner in Stoli writes:
Yes, Newsweek and Michael Isikoff screwed up.

Yes, because of their screw-up, people died.

Yes, the US position in the Middle East and Central Asia was damaged - not fatally, but perhaps permanently.

No - nothing will change in the way the MSM conducts business.

Let me repeat that, just to make myself clear: Nothing will change. No improvements will be made. For the MSM, the lesson learned is not "let's stick to the facts next time." The lesson is, "let's be more careful in how we present what we think the story is/should be."

If there's any kind of tipping point here, it will be in how the public perceives the news. There will be no change, none at all, in how the MSM perceives the news - nor in how it will choose to shape the story.

I think that's exactly right: "The Brutal Afghani Winter" and the Blogosphere's corrections didn't change anything in big media. Abu Ghraib, and the Blogosphere's context didn't change anything in big media. "Christmas in Cambodia" didn't change anything in big media. And neither did RatherGate.

Steve Green adds, "Change will come. Someday, someday, eventually – maybe. But not today. Not over this."

Yes--it's possible for the media to change--they've certainly taken a few distinct turns for the worse over the past thirty years. But changes in the opposite direction will be much slower in coming.

If ever.



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