Monday, May 16, 2005

MSM 0, Blogosphere -1

I'd like to second this Andrew Sullivan post on the revelation that a Newsweek snippet alleging that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet was bogus. To state the obvious: Newsweek (presumably) fucked up pretty big time, and this is particularly distressing considering that it was Mike Isikoff, whom I've regarded as an exceptionally good reporter for some time, who did the fucking up. On the other hand:
[A]fter U.S. interrogators have tortured over two dozen detainees to death, after they have wrapped one in an Israeli flag, after they have smeared naked detainees with fake menstrual blood, after they have told one detainee to "Fuck Allah," after they have ordered detainees to pray to Allah in order to kick them from behind in the head, is it completely beyond credibility that they would also have desecrated the Koran?
And more importantly, given the scale of atrocity committed under U.S. auspices, desecrating a copy of the Koran seems like a relatively small deal. The fact that Newsweek completely and maybe unforgivably botched a story about it (though if you live in Glennreynoldsland, perhaps they did so intentionally in order to provoke violence---but more on that in a moment) just does not compare to the actual crucifixion of detainees (who may or may not have been guilty of terrorism) on the part of American military personnel.

It's probably not worth the time to compile a survey of bloggers who were more outraged about the outrage over torture but are just plain outraged about Newsweek's assault on freedom---and there are better sites for that sort of thing anyway---but I would like to point out that, as usual, Glenn Reynolds is the pioneer, nay, the new paradigm, nay, the apotheosis of public bed-shitting. It's not just that his proffered commentary on the matter is (mostly) a pastiche of other people's sneers. The real problem is that, as seems to be the case with the very choicest selections of Insta-critical thought, Reynolds indulges in an absolutely vicious variety of slander---functional allegations of treason---while maintaining the distance necessary to preserve his preposterous reputation as a calm moderate, by constantly attributing the smears of his own feverish flatteries of power to unnamed others. How else to interpret Braveheart's words of caution:
As I've warned before, if Americans conclude that the press is, basically, on the side of the enemy, the consequences are likely to be dire.
Let the press ignore the warnings of this fearless Cassandra at its own peril. The dire consequences it will suffer for doing so are certainly not Reynolds' fault; he has been, after all, little more than a mere observer, though his bias in favor of the media is given away by his unrestrainable impulse to look out for their safety, best interests, and well-being.

One concluding thought: There are many contenders, but this might just be the single most atrocious comment ever printed on
AUSTIN BAY writes that the Newsweek Koran-flushing debacle may turn out to be the press's Abu Ghraib. It's a must-read post with lots of links and background.
Well obviously AUSTIN BAY can't be talking out of his ass if he's got lots of links and background, can he? Don't be concerned that Bay, as Andrew Sullivan points out, "still insists that Abu Ghraib did not constitute 'deadly torture.'" C'mon, he's got links. Links!

Stripping the above citation from Reynolds of its cowardly use of somebody else as a human shield, we find Reynolds toying with the equation of Abu Ghraib and the "Newsweek Koran-flushing debacle." Now I do understand that the analogy isn't meant to be perfectly precise---after all, Newsweek staffers were the ones who gave the orders for people to be murdered as a result of their erroneous reporting, whereas Islamist terrorists were directly responsible for stretching the US's operative definition of torture beyond comprehensibility, loosening restrictions on permissible conduct by interrogators, immunizing all but the most pathetic grunts against prosection for torture, and then carrying out the tortures themselves. But to the extent that the analogy does hold, we can surely expect this much: Reynolds should spend much of his blog-time and blog-energy until the next election apologizing for and explaining away Newsweek's behavior.


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