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    Overheard on the Web, and other Web links
    From The Herald's Research Editor

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Newsweek's answer 

    The hottest topic of discussion out there right now is the explanation from Newsweek on the story about the use (abuse) of the Koran in the Guantanamo detention camp that led to bloody riots in Afghanistan. The story has released another firestorm besides the reaction in Islamic nations: bloggers are finding it another reason to denounce the MSM -- main stream media.
    In this column, Newsweek says they're not the first to report such desecrations of the sacred book, but that the allegations they cited can not be totally verified, but that more such stories may still come out.
    From Newsweek:
      "...Westerners, including those at NEWSWEEK, may underestimate how severely Muslims resent the American presence, especially when it in any way interferes with Islamic religious faith."

    There's a long series of roundups of reactions to this story on Memeorandum, among other places.
    (Added later:) Lots and lots of comments on Kevin Drum's assessment of the story on Political Animal.

    posted by liz at 10:48 AM
    One thing that Newsweek can do to help restore its credibility

    By now everyone is probably familiar the false Newsweek article which has caused violent anti-American protests in Muslim-dominated countries. There is little doubt that Newsweek’s retraction will receive far less coverage from inflammatory voices in the Muslim world like Al-Jazeera.

    Newsweek based the story on an anonymous U. S. government source. Newsweek should come clean and name this source. If they don’t, every time that an anonymous source is used in one of their articles the public would be right to be suspect.

    This is not the first time that an anonymous source has proved to be untrue. Back in 1998, Democratic Congressman Paul McHale very forcefully criticized President Clinton for his behavior in the Monica Lewinski scandal. A ‘journalist’ named Geraldo Rivera reported on his CNBC show that someone “close to President Clinton” told him that Congressman McHale had falsely claimed to have been awarded military decorations. These were charges which had been debunked in Mr. McHale’s 1992 congressional campaign. Not only did Mr. Rivera fail to investigate the veracity of this smear, he also refused to name the source. That person is free to take further false pot-shots at individuals while hiding behind the cloak the anonymous source. At least Mr. Rivera’s show was cancelled.

    Some will contend that it is important for journalists to protect the identity of anonymous sources. The argument is that these sources would be wary of divulging information if there was a danger that their identity would become known. I agree with that argument, but…

    I fail to see the public good which is accomplished by protecting those who provide false information. Although Newsweek is will likely be leery of anything coming from this guy in the future, he will keep his government job and be free to spread disinformation to other news outlets. If Newsweek were to expose him not only would he be unlikely to do this again, others would think twice before passing along his lies.
    Post a Comment

    Elisabeth Donovan

    Elisabeth (Liz) Donovan was a Herald librarian for 10 years, and Research Editor for 13 years. She came to The Herald in 1981, following several years at the Washington Post. She started blogging in 2000, with a news research blog, followed by the blog at in 2003. A frequent speaker and writer on news research, she was honored in 2004 by the News Division of the Special Libraries Association for her contributions to the field.

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