Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Resistance Is Not Futile

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorializes on Newsweek’s plight.

The accusations concerning Qur’ans in toilets have been published repeatedly over the past three years in a number of media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, a number of other American newspapers, the BBC and a Moroccan Islamic newspaper. The only thing Newsweek added was a claim of “official confirmation.” While not a small thing, that supposed confirmation did not break this story; it is old news. And one source’s faulty memory over where he saw information about it does not prove that the accusations of Qur’an abuse are untrue. Indeed, they still deserve further investigation.

The White House response fits a pattern of trying to intimidate the press from exploring issues the administration doesn’t want explored. Compare it, for example, to the Dan Rather report on President Bush’s military service. To this day, we don’t know if what Rather reported was accurate or not, or to what degree it may have been accurate. Nor do we know whether the documents he cited were genuine. All we know is that CBS can’t verify that they were genuine.

Yet the hullabaloo caused by that incident appears to have intimidated other journalists from trying to pin down the full truth about Bush’s military service. And now there will probably be less enterprise reporting on prisoner abuse or anything else that might embarrass this administration. It also fits neatly in with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s effort to muzzle public television and radio. This behavior seems so Nixonian, except that the current crew is much better at the press-intimidation game than William Safire and Vice President Spiro Agnew were. For Newsweek and other media that come in for this treatment, we have one word: Resist.

This goes hand in hand with PSoTD’s post on the tactics used by a small political party back in the 1920’s when they were trying very hard to gain power in a European country. Look where it got them.