Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The news is weak in Newsweek

By now everyone knows about the whole Newsweek fiasco, and I'm not going to do too much backtracking on it. If need be, you can check outFox News, Little Green Footballs, and Wretchard's always good Belmont Club. Now that Newsweek has admitted that the article was basically false, and that their anonymous source was crap, they're now trying to find a way to say that their editorial standards are still good.

They're not good. The sheer force of will that the editors and spokespeople of Newsweek are putting forth tells me that they know they're screwed. It's like being in a police interrogation, and you say "But I didn't rob Austin's Pawn Shop!" and the police respond with "No one mentioned which pawn shop it was, yet."

The problem is that there may well be nothing that authorities can DO to Newsweek to punish them for their stupidity and callousness. Sure, Newsweek could save us a bundle of time and energy by firing anyone involved in the incident, turning a nice portion of either their profits or ownership over to the military (who were directly affected by the false allegations), and requesting that any journalistic licences that the fired people had be revoked. But that won't happen.

I think that the advertisers and retailers of Newsweek should- and some will- jump ship over this. It's not going to go away, and their credibility is shot to hell now. No one wants to be seen standing next to the condemmed. Newsweek is going to lose ALOT of money with this.

If Congress actually acts on something- and subpoenas's Newsweeks' staff to find out who their "source" was, that would also hurt them. If any of Newsweek's staff is caught lying on the stand- they're screwed. And the embarassment would be double if their sources turn out to be really incredulously bad. Congress could also pass laws that allow individuals, organizations, and institutions to sue media companies and individuals to have their anonoymous sources brought out into the open. That would be a nice check and balance against the media overdoing it, which they currently are doing.

If they're really sure of their sources, they can stand by it and stare down the people who are suing them. But I think that would prove to be the exception to the rule- and that it would force the media to self-censor their works. For once.


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