Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Oregonian Slams Military While Protecting Newsweek

Copied from the its entirety...

"If only Newsweek were to blame

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

On Tuesday, another U.S. soldier was sentenced in military court for abusing and humiliating Muslim detainees in Iraq. The punishment got drowned out by the White House's loud condemnation of Newsweek magazine for a retracted news brief about desecration of the Quran by interrogators at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
There's no question Newsweek damaged its credibility and worsened global disgust with the United States by publishing such a poorly sourced news item. But it isn't true, as White House spokesman Scott McClellan said at a briefing Tuesday, that "there is lasting damage to (the nation's) image because of this report."

The lasting damage to the nation's image has come from years of reports of prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, some unsubstantiated and some chillingly documented. A few of the incidents involved the reservist found guilty this week of abusing detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Despite such incidents, the White House seems offended that anyone might suspect further problems.

Newsweek's report of Quran abuse may have inflamed deadly riots in the Muslim world, though accounts differ on the riots' causes. Ironically, Newsweek may be proven right: A Pentagon spokesman said in a briefing Tuesday that there may have been "inadvertent mishandlings of the Quran." As Abu Ghraib showed, anything is possible.

And there is plenty of blame to go around."

So, the Oregonian defends Newsweek...not by offering some illumination of new information. Nor by making an argument wrapped around some interpretation of journalistic standards, but it takes the opportunity to kick the US military in the face, even while the military is in the process of disciplining those involved in prisoner abuse.

Where is the Oregonian's cry for the press to handle the Newsweek affair in the public, as the military is? Where is the call for justice, since unlike the prisoner abuse scandals where only humiliation was involved, for the dead in the riots following the publishing of the story? Where is Newsweek as an institution publicly outlining its courses of action to prevent further journalistic abuses? AWOL. Yet the highly regarded Oregonian can only deflect criticism directed at one of its sororital organizations by bashing those who defend their right to print.

So, the Bush White House, and the military are to blame for every ounce of hate in this world? And stirring the pot with false stories is a practice that is justified, because they are not responsible for the origin of the hate? C'mon...take responsibility for your sub-standard journalism, its consequences, and the necessary corrective action. Don't use the ..."he did worse" is not acceptable.

The Oregonian exaggerates with "years of reports prisoner abuse," when it was pretty well documented that the abuses took place over a relatively short period of time, by a relatively small group. And then compounds the effect by adding ..."some unsubstantiated, and some chillingly documented." Again, the Oregonian has left the hint of of cover-up, where none is proven to exist. I guess assassination by innuendo is an acceptable journalistic tool. And there is very little that is "chilling" about the prisoner abuse. While certainly humiliating, and somewhat physical in nature, it is a 1 on the Saddam scale of "chilling" prisoner abuse, torture, and murder. The Oregonian has intentionally skewed the perspective on this one as well.

Why do those in the military HATE the press...kind of hard to figure, eh? I guess it could be the continuous demeaning of the military's efforts and results by the press. It could be because the military dies defending the rights of those who cannot hold themselves to their own lowly standards. And most likely, because we have little respect for their product...a product that has proven itself to be standardless, often fabricated, and nearly always negative.


Anonymous said...

Catch the O'Reilly show No Spin Zone, he lists a number of editorials across the country (including the Oregonian) who published the same nonsense.

Nice catch,


chaoticsynapticactivity said...

Well, just count in the MSM showing this in the World's face ad nasuem, to try to justify their flawed logic. In the long haul, it will settle out, but in the menatime, we just have to be irritated...

Thanks for catching this article...

chaoticsynapticactivity said...


Lex said...

" ... unlike the prisoner abuse scandals where only humiliation was involved ... "

Sir, are you serious? Prisoners were sodomized with light sticks. Prisoners were killed. The military is in the process of disciplining the lower-level personnel involved but already has "exonerated" those at the top whose orders made these violations of the UCMJ, U.S. law and international law possible.

We in the media do not hate the military. We love our country ... love it enough to call out even those whose service we so greatly appreciate, when their behavior flies in the face of the law and the principles on which this country was founded. We love it enough to dare to hold it accountable to its highest standards, even when other Americans would dismiss us as traitors.

Yes, Newsweek did a stupid, unprofessional thing. It deserves every bit of the criticism it has received in that regard. And we in the media are trying to hold it accountable as well.

But let's keep our eye on the ball here.

ed said...


"Sir, are you serious? Prisoners were sodomized with light sticks. Prisoners were killed."

Really? How outrageous. How terrible. Too bad this same thing happens in prisons all over the world. But of course your outrage is oriented at America's soldiers.

Frankly I don't hate the media. I am far too contemptuous of you to bother with straight hate. But I will leave this little gem for you.

A free and independent press requires more than just the First Amendment. It requires a participatory public that *believes* in that press. If the public no longer believes the press, because they've burned all of their credibility, then that press is no longer free and no longer independent.

I think the patience that many people have for the media is rapidly eroding. Perhaps it's time to legislate and ending to to Sullivan vs NYT and make defamation lawsuits against the media much easier.

Perhaps that's the only way to reform the media because, as this Newsweek fiasco has shown, the media is clearly incapable of do so itself.

"But let's keep our eye on the ball here."

Yeah. You love the military. Sure. I believe you.


onein said...

Great post.

Major Mike said...

Lex. I reference the Oregonian's own words "abusing and humiliating." Additonally, of those currently being taken to task for their actions, none are accused of manslaughter, murder, or any other such crimes. All other alleged abuses are investigated by the military...which is a much greater search for accountability than the MSM can claim.

Anonymous said...

Howard Fineman was accurate in his assessment that today's MSM is a radical Left-wing political party aborn in the wake of the Viet-Nam War & Watergate, but unfortunately for it due to both a changed political climate and a changed communications environment, the MSMPP unable to adapt to changed circumstances is dying before our eyes.

Sisyphus said...

lex: "... but already has "exonerated" those at the top whose orders made these violations of the UCMJ, U.S. law and international law possible."

Were the orders by "those at the top" investigated and found not to violate UCMJ, US law and international law? If so, I'm not sure why you "scare quote" exonerated. Do you, as a journalist, think the military or government were lying?

Made these violations ... possible? What kind of cause-effect argument is that?

"But let's keep our eye on the ball here."

If the "ball" is "to call out even those whose service we so greatly appreciate, when their behavior flies in the face of the law and the principles on which this country was founded."

How does the Newsweek report or the Oregonian article further the ball?

Can press behavior fly in the face of law and the principles on which this country was founded? Is that even remotely possible? And if it is, are you trying to take our focus off the ball of press accountability?

When Terry Moran says, "There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous.", is he taking his eye of the ball?

louielouie said...

go investigate the 39 deaths in the california penal system listed as "homicide" from 2003.
i've always wondered about that statement the media makes, "we love OUR country".
speaking for myself, i love THIS country.
do you speak as you do because you love the country that this one will be after you destroy it?
kind of like O.J. loving Nicole.

well said.

love your site man.

Shannon said...

We in the media do not hate the military. We love our country ... love it enough to call out even those whose service we so greatly appreciate...

I don't believe you. I don't think I'm alone in saying that the majority of Americans don't believe you. If the press really did appreciate our military, the press would care enough to cover the entire story of Iraq as zealously as they do the negative stories.

In every story about Iraq or our military, even the occasional "almost" positive stories, reporters STILL find a way to reference Abu Ghraib or other negatives that portray our military in a bad light. We can't reference the horrid abuses Iraqis suffered under Hussein over and over again, but remind everyone at every turn (especially our enemies) of a bunch of hillbilly IDIOTS who deserved the death penalty for their actions in my opinion. What they did not only enraged fellow servicemembers and their families, but also our enemies. As such, it has (just as the current Newsweek scandal will) cost American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines their LIVES - and will continue to do so.

I believe our media is only interested in "catching" our military and this Administration at fault at every turn. Reporters fully realize the impact of their words and it's as if you strive to keep our enemies in an uproar and make our military appear guilty of anything negative - just because you so vehemently disagree with (dare I say hate) this Administration and the War on Terror. I find this so appalling because it's my husband and his fellow soldiers and servicemembers who pay in blood for your lack of balanced reporting.

What I find so odd though is, our enemies would like to see you and your fellow reporters and editors just as dead as the rest of us "infidels." We see how these terrorists treat those of your profession clearly, due to the brutal murder of Daniel Pearle. For the life of me, I can't understand why OUR media doesn't seem to grasp the severity of the situation free nations across the world are facing against a brutal, horrible, death loving enemy!

I can't speak for all military families, but I can speak for myself: I wish with all my heart those in your profession would just be FAIR. All the world hears from our media is every misstep, mistake, abuse or the like about our military. Think of the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of troops we have in Iraq today (and throughout the world). Think of the small number that were involved in the negative incidents. Yet, that small number is ALL the mainstream media reports. As I stated earlier, even when you're not reporting about it, you still find a way to reference it. What about the other soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who are doing a wonderful job and assisting Iraqis in grand ways? Why aren't we hearing about the progress we're making in Iraq at the same level as we're still hearing about the prison abuses? Why didn't we hear about Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith (Medal of Honor recipient who died in Iraq in case you don't know) even a quarter as much as we've heard about the few negative incidents that were perpetrated by a small number of low lifes who just happen to wear an Army uniform? Thanks to our "love our country" media, the world knows the name England and the tubby face that goes with it, however they don't know the name SFC Smith, they don't know his face - and they don't know what a tragic loss this country suffered with his death.

I think I know why your profession covers our military and this war in the way it does. It's just my opinion, however - in my heart of hearts (and those in your profession who don't lie to themselves) know it's the truth. The left in this country and our media learned during Vietnam that they can eventually wear down American spirit enough to impact the outcome of a war. The feeling of power must have been something! I realize the media alone cannot take that victory as their own, having an administration that tried to run the war from DC was another factor. However, since that time, our media seems to have made it their purpose to make all military reporting negative. In doing so today, in a technology driven age where the rest of the world reads your reports as quickly as we here in America do, your reporting impacts our military in combat immediately.

Your utter lack of regard for the lives of your fellow citizens in uniform, the future of "our country" that you say you so love disgusts mainstream America. We know how you feel about this nation and its military because you tell us so very clearly in your reporting. What you fail to realize is that unlike during Vietnam, our technology driven age also benefits us - every day Americans. We can choose not to depend on you and your fellow "professional" reporters and MSM outlets by choosing to look elsewhere for our news. Try as you might, a repeat of Vietnam and swaying public opinion will not happen no matter how many negative stories you cover - or make up. You all should have realized this when your slanted reporting this last presidential election had no impact on the outcome of the election. You tried to ignore the SwiftVets, yet we still heard their stories. You tried to cover up Kerry's double talk and questionable military record. However, we were able to not only see his flip-flopping for ourselves by just listening to him, but able to read about it on alternative news sites and channels such as Fox News. Americans spoke loudly during our last election and we're speaking even louder with our wallets by not buying your publications, not watching your TV coverage or visiting your online news outlets. We see your spinning the Newsweek scandal - making something once again this Administration's fault and not the fault of your fellow reporters. We'll just continue to speak with our money - making sure you all don't get a dime of it.

Again, I just wish you all would just plain and simple - be FAIR. I don't want you to cover up clear horrible behavior like that of the prison abuses. However, I would love for you all to devote as much time to the great job our military is doing all over Iraq to help these brutalized people, as you do to the terrorists (that you refuse to call terrorists) in Iraq. You give them, their fanatical videos of hate, their murdering of hundreds of innocent men, women and children complete coverage and make sure the world hears and sees their aftermath - and yet are silent about the stories of great strides other areas of Iraq are making with the help of coalition forces.

Why can't you cover the entire picture of what we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why won't you allow us to hear about the real heroes like SFC Smith? There are heroes - there are great things our military is doing and has done, but you refuse to acknowledge it, you refuse to tell the stories. And in doing so, you rob the American people of knowing about it, you rob the world of knowing about it - and you give aid to our enemies to recruit even more people who want you all as dead as the rest of us by covering the negative over and over again.

All we want is fair coverage - and since you all apparently don't understand what that means, it means the positive stories being covered too.

We love our country..." You and your colleagues are going to love our country to death.

Why can't you love this country more than you hate this Administration?

Scott C. Pierce said...

Besides the immediate fallout from the Newsweek article (riots and death), remember the secondary damage to the military.

As someone who has served in the the military for some time, and who recently served in the Middle East, and who has started a blog trying to challenge the media liberal bias ( I can tell you that stories like this cost the military thousands of hours because we are forced to investigate every story. So we form commissions and distract our fighters by pulling them out of their units for questioning or taking their time inspecting.

There is a real cost.

kcom said...

That was a real tour-de-force, Shannon. Plain-spoken and straight from the heart. I applaud you and support your points.

There is no way that good news in Iraq is not "news". Heck, it's more news than the umpteenth carbon copy car bomb. We all know the car bomb story. What we don't know, and need to know, is the rest of the picture. We desperately need that context. How are we supposed to make intelligent decisions about the use of our blood and treasure if we don't get a clear picture of the results, all the results?

I remember how surprised half the press was that the elections not only came off but were such a success. They hadn't done the reporting necessary to explain it or anticipate it because they were so focused on the bomb-of-the-day story they couldn't see the forest for the trees. They really are letting us down badly and need to take a long look in the mirror and figure out why and how to fix it.

Soldier's Dad said...

"On Tuesday, another U.S. soldier was sentenced in military court for abusing and humiliating Muslim detainees in Iraq"

Somehow I think this should read

On Tuesday, another of Sgt Graners coworkers, was sentenced in military court for his involvement in the Sado-masochistic birthday party held by Sgt Graner in Lyndie England's honor. Sgt Graner is currently serving a 10 year prison term.

Unfortunately, the way the story is written, it would appear that a different set of problems occurred, not that the drum is being beaten yet again on the same cellblock, involving the same set of guards.

Lex said...

Well, I guess I'm not going to convince, say, "Ed" that "just barely better than lots of other countries, some of which are real hellholes" is an inadequate standard for the greatest country on Earth. Too bad.

Major Mike: I'd take the investigations far more seriously if they were actually resulting in serious consequences for the senior officers and senior administration officials responsible for setting policy on the care of detainees.

Sisyphus: I agree that the Newsweek article was a boneheaded mistake. But it was retracted quickly, and in any case its consequences were far less than those resulting from the way the war and occupation have been mismanaged. (Haven't seen the entire Oregonian article to which you refer, and I hesitate to pass judgment on a single paragraph.) But on the larger issue of press accountability, I would say that the news media currently is far more accountable than the military and the Administration, inasmuch as the people who actually make mistakes in the media are (at last, I'll grant) getting fired with some regularity. Don Rumsfeld wrecks the military and keeps his job. Condi Rice turns everything she touches to sh*t and gets a promotion. And on and on.

louielouie: Refusing to hold the military even to the standards of the California Department of Correction is the first step toward totalitarianism, in addition to being bad for the military as a professional institution. And calling someone "traitor" on exactly zero grounds is a sign you've lost the argument.

shannon, w/r/t to my motivations, I don't care what you believe. Take me at my word or not, but if you're going to publicly accuse me of lying, at least bring some evidence, mmkay? And for the record, I think most of us in the media understand perfectly just how determined our adversaries are to destroy us ... which is why we scream bloody murder when we see the job of destroying THEM being botched. And that is EXACTLY what is happening. You can't kill 'em all. You've got to win hearts and minds, too, and the way you do that is by living out American values, even -- no, especially -- when it's not convenient. If you do that, you starve the enemy propagandists of intellectual oxygen. If you don't do that, they win. It's that simple.

As for fairness, it's in the eye of the beholder, which is one reason I would never argue that the media is are always fair. That said, one logical way of judging story play, one widely accepted even by media critics, is by the consequences of an event. By that standard, the consequences of America's torture and murder of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere far outstrip the good done by S1C Smith and the 1,600+ others who have died in Iraq.

In any event, y'all clearly already have your minds made up that it's OK to torture people in the name of "fighting terror." Lots of reasonable people disagree, including current and former military personnel, rich and poor, Republican and Democratic, media and not. You'll win no hearts and minds of your own simply by screaming "Traitor!" at them.

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