Of course the right-wing talking heads are having a field day with the story that Newsweek published an apparently false report that American interrogators threw copies of the Q'uran in the toilet as part of a psy-ops program. Any opportunity to bash the liberal media is a good one for the parrot parade, and the fact that the story was both plausible (after all, these are the same American forces who have been unquestionably proven to have beaten, tortured, murdered, and sexually abused Islamic prisoners) and credible (though one might think from the hysteria it was made up out of whole cloth, it in fact came from a previously reliable source, and no less a personage than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave it credence before it started to deteriorate). That said, it's a terrible situation, one Newsweek certainly should have apologized for, and a brutal reminder that actions can have real-world consequences.
But, the irony! I can barely stand up under its weight.
While the battle of the body-counts goes on (the ruling government of Uzbekistan claims no civilians were killed and that all the fatalities were those of rebels and insurgents; the opposition puts forth civilian casualty counts in the high hundreds), the White House, who are certainly no strangers to pandering, continue to flog this issue for all it's worth. The apology was a "good start", say all the President's men, but it's not enough. What would be enough has not yet been made explicit -- Newsweek suspending publication? Paying reparations to the families of the dead? Handing the editorial reins over to FOX staffers? -- but, damn it, sorry is just not enough.
Whether or not the magazine knowingly had false information, they went ahead with their plan, and it turned out to be based on a lie. The result? Many innocent people died, and the image of the United States suffered irreparable damage.
Boy, sounds familiar, doesn't it? Sounds a bit like the U.S. going to war based on false information about weapons of mass destruction, with the two major differences being that the government knew their information was bogus and the casualty count (and the damage to our reputation) has been roughly a thousand times greater. Oh, and also, no one has been forced to apologize for the Iraq war.
Anyway, the defense will be made against this comparison that in our new, ret-conned history, we didn't go to war against Iraq because of WMDs at all (as if that excuses telling constant lies about them); we went to war to free the people of Iraq from tyranny, as we have vowed to end tyranny in all countries of the world. Nothing ironic or massively hypocritical about that, certainly, unless it arised during a conversation about Uzbekistan, a U.S. ally and, er, well, a brutal dictatorship.
In the end, leave it to shameless White House spokesdroid Scott McClellan to come right out and say things in hopes that everyone in America simply isn't paying attention:
"One of the concerns is that some media organizations have used anonymous sources that are hiding behind that anonymity in order to generate negative attacks," McClellan said Tuesday.
Boy, media organizations using anonymous sources to generate negative attacks! What a scandal. And, naturally, one with which the Republican Party is entirely unfamiliar! FOX News? Jeff Gannon? Never heard of them, sorry, who are they?
But Scott's not done yet! He can't just be shameless, he has to be completely hypocritical as well:
But he said the administration's own use of anonymous sources was not a major problem. The administration frequently conducts news briefings and insists that its briefers be identified only as administration officials rather than by name. McClellan said the administration was trying to move away from such briefings, but he rejected suggestions that they contribute to credibility problems.
When we do it, you see, it's cute! God bless us every one.
(EDITED TO ADD: General Richard Myers and his staff seem to believe that the rioting in Uzbekistan has very little to do with the Newsweek article in the first place, and very much to do with the political conflict between the Muslim opposition and the U.S.-backed party that rules the country (undemocratically). But hey, who knows better, some crazy Army guy or bastion of honesty Scott McClellan?