At 6:45 Central time this morning, I was running late, but I did manage to listen to the morning news on the radio as I was not-hurrying to get ready for work.
I realize that I'm about to quote a bastion of conservatism, so consider the source, or at least 50% of it. Yes folks, NPR reporters, from behind the stony ramparts of unyielding intolerance, fearlessly protecting their fundamentalist, right wing radical dogma, announced that the White House was, to paraphrase at least 25% of the story, "...being amazingly quiet and non-reactive to the Newsweek story....". Now, it's true that if those reporters had been from CNN or Al Jazeera, they would have been more believable, but that is what came across the airwaves this morning, on National Public Radio, the home of Garrison Keiler (sp?). Believe it or not.
To those who would post here and caution us that it wasn't Newsweek, but "the White House" who was at fault for the story:
It's truly amazing that when the media screws up, there are those out there who will automatically turn the tables, not around, but completely over, and point to "the White House" and warn us stupid masses that we are about to be flim-flammed by a conservative administration who had nothing to do with the release of a bogus news report. You know, just like what happened with Dan Rather and 60 Minutes -- they made up a story during the election, that actually included some technical truth, i.e. "George Bush really was in the Air National Guard, so everything else we say about him and the ANG is to be considered true" -- so "the White House" put a spin on that story and used it to their advantage --- stop the presses, as I recall "the White House" remained pretty quiet about that matter as well, even though it attacked a man's integrity, and he had every right to defend himself.
But when the other president was discovered to be using "the White House" as his rumpus room with a teeny-bopper who liked cigars, (not to smoke, that's bad for you), I didn't see any posts here or anywhere else by Laypeople warning us to "Watch the spin the White House puts on this story...".
You cleverly avoided your previous accusation, Alex. But, get back to what you said earlier -- not "...if the report was 100% false those people would still be dead...." (I'm paraphrasing 38%, but quoting unnamed sources) -- your original post indicated that Newsweek did a great job because they were "technically correct". So, as I creep back into the sewer, I suggest that no, those people would not be dead if Newsweek had kept their collective mouth shut until the truth, what a quaint word, was determined.
[This message was edited by A.P. Merillat on 05-17-05 at .]
Even the tiniest bit of common sense would make you think 'you know, this could cause a bit of an uproar; maybe we shouldn't print this'. I realize common sense is lacking in most print media, but surely they realize there will be consequences to some of these stories. Or do they really want to see the US fail that badly?
On the subject of "the other president" with the cigar, we should remember that it was investigative journalist Michael Isikoff of Newsweek that uncovered all the dirt on Clinton/Lewinsky.
The executives at Newsweek was too cautious and put a hold on Isikoff's story, they were afraid to let it go to press because they wanted to double check the facts. Someone at Newsweek leaked it anyway, so the magazine ended up getting scooped on their own story.
It kinda gave me the willies when Donald Rumsfeld, in regard to this Newsweek/Quran story, told reporters: "People need to be very careful about what they say just as people need to be careful about what they do."
I'd rather the press get it wrong every so often then have them be afraid to publish controversial stories.
I think Newsweek got it exactly right on the Clinton/Lewinsky matter. The problem wasn't double-checking the facts, it was letting the story leak so they got scooped! That example just shows that taking a little time to be certain of things doesn't in any way mean the story isn't going to come out eventually -- raise your hand if you actually didn't hear about Clinton/Lewinsky. But taking time to double-check your facts is the sign of responsible journalism, something reporters seem to have forgotten, what with Memogate and the Newsweek debacle.
Then Alex, you controvert most of your own previous post: you indicate that "Newsweek was too cautious, (checking the facts before reporting the other president's behavior)..." So, why weren't they cautious in this report, where the zealous passions of certain people were surely to be so imflamed (word?)to such a degree that they would participate in actions that would end up in the death of other people? Why check facts when the story deals with one segment of social beliefs and opinions, but not when the story has implications the other way?
You'd rather the press get a few stories wrong, even when people die as a result, than have them afraid to report other stories?
The abstract proposition of supporting a vigorous press is akin to supporting the fight against cancer -- who would realistically oppose it? The problem is one of accountability. To analogize, prosecutorial immunity is absolute. It exists to encourage the zealous pursuit of our duties by quelling the chilling effect of trepidation stemming from the prospect of civil liability. Does that mean prosecutors are encouraged to ignore their obligations to justice or shelve their consideration of the repercussions apparent in a particular course of action? Of course not. So, too, is the press cloaked in the salutary protections of the First Amendment. But the wide-ranging ramifications of global distribution of information should be readily apparent, as demonstrated by this incident. To quote a poignantly-applicable bit of pop culture wisdom, "with great power comes great responsibility." It boils down to a fundamental ethical inquiry: Simply because I can do something, does that mean I should? And if I decide to act, am I to be completely free from responsibility on the facile basis of my occupation? Lest we forget, prosecutorial immunity does not protect us from a grievance or the ballot box. Moreover, SB 604 is an exercise in conflicting logic. Specifically, the public policy argument advanced in favor of the privilege is the exposure of governmental wrongdoing. Yet, if the sources by which that wrongdoing comes to light are sequestered by an all-but-absolute privilege, how is that wrongdoing to be addressed within the very system designed to bring the lawless to justice?
I can sum that up in two or three words:
a mal gam.
Newsweek had an exclusive on the story of the decade and they lost it because they were careful. Its no surprise then if they became less careful as a result.
Also I think it is an oversimplification to imply that people died because of insufficient research at Newsweek. Several things had to come together to cause this situation in Afghanistan. First of all, many Afghans don't much like our presence in their country. Second, there was the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. Third, the other abuse investigations at Guantanimo Bay. Fourth the police not being trained in crowd control. And for all we know, there were probably other factors as well... Newsweek did not cause any of these.
The truth, according to the Pentagon, is that allegations of desecration were indeed investigated, but could not be substantiated. Can we really assume that, had Newsweek reported this version, there would not have been any riots?
Banjo player named Pa is married to his lovely wife, Ma. They have a good country marriage producing two little banjo players, Girl and Boy. Nosy News Man working for NotYourBusiness Daily chats with Boy about his pickin' skills for a human interest piece/cover story on a local for NYBD.
NNM picks up a tid bit from Boy about Ma being out late at night the last few nights with someone named Bubba. It seems that Boy has heard Ma and Bubba leaving in the middle of the night to take a walk in the woods out back. NNM decides he's got a scoop. He goes for a walk in the woods and finds a shack hidden in the way-back-there with a cot and some blankets inside.
NNM writes a scathing piece about Ma cheating on Pa with Bubba. Because that's news for the NYBD.
NNM doesn't realize that Bubba is a hound dog and Ma was just heading out early to wade in the creek behind the shack in the way-back-there. See, Ma noodles, and as everyone knows, the best time to noodle is just before dawn.
Pa gets Billy Bob's daughter All-Her-Teeth to read him the cover story on Ma, borrows a 12 guage from Chester and handles his business.
Now, how in the ever-lovin'-heck is none of the responsibility on NosyNewsMan?
I think this is a really great discussion...Alex, your proposition is that it is OK to get it wrong in the press because the press must be free to publish controversial stories...
But that isn't the issue in SB 604...the issue is prosecutor's duty to seek the truth. We can't afford to have a "we get it right most of the time" attitude. We have a duty to get evidence if someone's got it, because an outcome based on truth depends on it.
Honestly, we as prosecutors don't often care about the "confidential informer" that journalists say is the basis for this bill. I don't think as a prosecutor we care about the Newsweek CI...
But the bill continues to cover all the evidence that newsmen gather that is not confidential. That is where we have a big disconnect, and where prosecutors continue to feel that the jury is entitled to "everyman's evidence."
All the theory is good debate, but the way I see it, the issue that irritates newsmen is having to respond to subpoenas, like everyone else who bumps up against the criminal justice system.
Alex, I am curious: we have offered a compromise to the media reps at the Capitol that would give a journalist an informer's privilege to protect the identity of a confidential informer. The offer, however, would still allow for the subpoena and production of evidence, like outtakes and crime scene pictures.
Would you agree to that compromise -- doesn't it cover your big concern -- confidential informers?
The debate is never over what it claims to be about. Bottom line is no one likes to be inconvenienced by a criminal investigation and prosecution. Doctors don't like having to testify on their day off about what they did in an emergency room. Bank officers don't want to ruin a perfectly good Friday afternoon explaining the small print on an account that was defrauded. And reporters (more likely their cameraperson) don't like to be bothered to make copies of interviews or come to court and authenticate that a defendant confessed on camera or a witness lied in court.
But all of these people, along with every other person who involuntarily participates in a criminal investigation and prosecution, contributes to the democratic notion of a fair trial. Every exclusion of a person and their evidence reduces the likelihood of a fair trial and a true verdict.
Exactly my point, John. Great to have nice discussions about confidential sources...but that isn't what this bill is about!
With all this talk about how important good journalism is, I thought it kind of funny that there is a news article attempting to analyze darth vader (who isn't real, in case you were wondering) and luke skywalker (who also isn't real). Although, I would sure hate to have a case with Obi Wan as a confidential informant, trying to locate a spirit would be pretty difficult.
How about this: if the story was 100% true, the magazine still had no business printing an inflamatory peice like that one. For what? Who is edified? What is accomplished? Just one more gotcha by the old media on the road to irrelevance.
OK, I think enough time has elapsed and Alex has not answered my question about whether he would accept our proposed compromise...too bad, I'd like to know what he thinks...
Newsweek, Richard Cohen, and more.
From the May 30, 2005 issue: Newsweek and dissing the Koran.
by The Scrapbook
05/30/2005, Volume 010, Issue 35
The Weekly Standard
While Islamist fanatics and ignorant Westerners sow panic over the alleged desecration of a Koran at Guantanamo Bay, no one mentions a startling fact: When it comes to destruction of the Koran, there's no question who the world champion is--the government of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi state religion is the primitive and austere Wahhabi version of Islam, which defines many traditional Islamic practices as idolatrous. Notably, the state bans the importation of Korans published elsewhere. When foreign pilgrims arrive at the Saudi border by the millions for the annual journey to Mecca, what happens to the non-Saudi Korans they are carrying? The border guards confiscate them, to be shredded, pulped, or burned. Beautiful bindings and fine paper are viewed as a particular provocation--all are destroyed. (This on top of the spiritual vandalism the Saudis perpetrate, by inserting anti-Jewish and anti-Christian squibs into the Korans they publish in foreign languages, as Stephen Schwartz documented in our issue of September 27, 2004.)
This behavior isn't a recent innovation, by the way. Here's an account of how the Saudis carried on when they seized the city of Taif in 1802. It's taken from an unimpeachable Islamic source, the compilation Advice for the Muslim, edited by the Turkish scholar Hilmi Isik and published by Hakikat Kitabevi in Istanbul:
The Wahhabis tore up the copies of the Koran . . . and other Islamic books they took from libraries, mosques and houses, and threw them down on the ground. They made sandals from the gold-gilded leather covers
of the Koran and other books and wore them on their filthy feet. There were verses of the Koran and other sacred writings on those leather covers. The pages of those valuable books thrown around were so numerous that there was no space to step in the streets of Taif. . . . The Wahhabi bandits, who were gathered from the deserts for looting and who did not know the Koran, tore up all the copies they found and stamped on them. Only three copies of the Koran were saved from the plunder of a major town, Taif.
No wonder anti-Wahhabi Muslims say "the Saudis print the Koran to destroy it." They print it and they destroy it in a daily desecration that makes Newsweek's retracted Guantanamo allegation look trivial by comparison.
I think any new law is suspect and questionable if it shields citizens from performing their civic duty of appearing as witnesses in a court of law, whether direct experience witnesses or admissible hearsay witnesses, more especially if it is designed to overcome the mere inconvenience of responding to a summons.
[This message was edited by Philip D Ray on 05-25-05 at .]
I just read that the Texas Attorney General co-authored an amicus brief supporting a reporter's privilege in federal court. I hope this link works:
link to release on AG's web site
I didn't get a chance to fully analyze the brief, but one thing I thought I saw was some argument that there is broad agreement throughout the country either through statute or judicial decisions that advocate a reporter's privilege. Doesn't this kind of fly in the face of Texas law that doesn't have a reporter's privilege? I was a little disappointed to see this, but perhaps there are distinctions to be made that I'm not able to make at this time.
Temple's attorneys subpoena Chronicle for data on reader
They want to ID a Web site user whose comments suggested a juror discussed the case
By PEGGY O'HARE
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Temple's attorneys are hoping to identify the reader, who claimed his or her boss was on the jury and predicted a verdict would come Thursday afternoon.
The reader, using the screen name "REFster," posted the remark in the "reader comments" section on the Chronicle's Web page about 9 a.m. Thursday � a full seven hours before the jury returned its verdict.
"Psst ... My boss is on the jury. Thinks they'll have a verdict this afternoon," REFster wrote.
The comment was among more than 2,000 posted on the Web page about Temple, 39, who was convicted of murder for the 1999 shooting death of his pregnant wife, Belinda Tracie Temple, at their Katy home.
REFster's remark concerns Temple's attorneys because jurors are forbidden from discussing the case with anyone outside the jury room while the trial is still in progress. Temple's trial is set to resume Monday, when jurors will begin hearing testimony in the punishment phase of the case.
Jurors chosen to hear a case are routinely instructed not to discuss it with their spouses, family members or friends and are ordered to avoid any media reports about the case while a trial is ongoing. Likewise, deliberations in the jury room are expected to be kept confidential until a trial is finished.
Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin has not decided if he will ask for a mistrial based on jury misconduct and said he doesn't yet know what he will ask the court to do about the reader comment.
"I don't have enough facts yet," DeGuerin said Friday night. "The concern is if jurors have been told not to communicate anything about what's been going on in the jury room � and it sounds like there's been some communication � we want to find out."
DeGuerin said he is concerned that REFster's comment surfaced while jury deliberations were still ongoing. "I think the judge and everybody else would want to get to the bottom of it," he said.
He said it's possible the jurors could be polled on whether they had violated the court's instructions.
Kelly Siegler, the lead prosecutor on the case, declined to comment on the development Friday.
The subpoena calls for the Chronicle to appear in court Monday, with records of any registration information REFster provided to the newspaper before posting the comment.
Chronicle 'studying' issue
The newspaper's management called the situation highly unusual and could not recall any other subpoenas received previously for a reader's Web page registration information. They have not yet decided how to respond to the subpoena.
"We're studying the situation," Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen said.
REFster was not a frequent commentator on the newspaper's Web site. After a reader asked REFster which way his or her boss might lean on the verdict, REFster responded, "He is playing it very close to the vest. I'm sorry to say at this point, I got nada."
REFster's last comment was posted about 6 p.m. Thursday.
Temple, meanwhile, remains in custody at the Harris County Jail. He and his family are both devastated by the jury's verdict, DeGuerin said.
"His mother could barely walk. Both his brothers collapsed in the back room," DeGuerin said. "They were all crying. They couldn't understand how this could happen. They believed in the system."
Temple's present wife, Heather Scott Temple, was not in the courtroom for the verdict, DeGuerin confirmed. Her primary concern is taking care of David Temple's 11-year-old son, DeGuerin said.
Looks like someone is "fishing." I thought that was the sort of thing that newspapers didn't like to get subpoenas about. Anyone want to guess if they will fight this one?
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