Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Just to be clear--

This will be brief, because I am TIRED and it's 3AM.

About the Newsweek story.

Some people are confused. At least the people on CBS Up to the Minute are.

The story was retracted. Under considerable pressure from the Bush administration (oh, btw, I recently bought a copy of George Orwell's 1984, I saw it at Half Price Books for $3.98).

That actually means nothing as to the truth of the story. Why did they issue a retraction? Their source was anonymous.

Does that mean it's an unreliable source? Well, Newsweek has relied on him or her before. He or she is a top ranking official. They have been consistently accurate. There is no reason to doubt that this story is true besides the fact that the source is anonymous.

This is like the whole CBS/Dan Rather thing. Just because the source is iffy (in the CBS case, forged), doesn't mean the story is untrue. In fact, there's quite alot of evidence suggesting that the story in Rather-gate is true. But in both cases, people assume that because the story was retracted there's no truth to it. Of course, a difference is that in the CBS case there was a forgery. Not true here.

Here's the question: should we censor ourselves if there is a tangible risk that comes from printing a story? Lets assume we know absolutely, for sure, that the story is true. We also suspect that printing it will quite reasonably make people mad. It might even provoke some to violence. People could die. How do we balance the responsibilities of the media to report the truth and the "news" (how do we even define that), with a responsibility to society (do they have one and what does it consist of?)?

Anyway, I'm tired (and probably incoherent), so I'm going to bed. I just wanted to make it clear that a retraction doesn't mean it's not true.

Edited to add: they've brought on an "expert" to talk about the meaning of this for Muslims (burning of the Koran). He's saying that "The Koran is the ultimate word of God to every single Muslim. Unlike in Christianity, where denominations believe different things, all Muslims, regardless of denomination, believe the same thing about the Koran." Ummm. No. I personally know some who don't. *sigh* Also, the anchorwoman just said that the Newsweek piece damaged America's image abroad (as part of the reasons why it was bad). Should our media focus on maitaining a positive image of us? The very idea is scary. Did I mention that I recently bought a copy of 1984?

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