Over to you, Mr. Reider:
The Bush administration and the right-wing blogs have had a field day with the episode. But some of their rallying cries have been downright laughable.
The notion that Newsweek has blood on its hands is ridiculous. People died because irresponsible zealots used the news item to work their followers into a frenzy of anti-Americanism. And the climate that made that so easy to do was created, not by the dreaded liberal media, but by the people who launched the war in Iraq and jettisoned the rights of detainees at Guantnamo and Abu Ghraib. Indeed, as the New York Times reported, “Guantnamo” has become shorthand in much of the world for American hypocrisy.
Equally absurd is the idea that the impetus for the item was the media’s reflexive antimilitary, antiwar, lefty posture. Last time I checked, the editorial page of the Washington Post, Newsweek’s sister publication, was as passionate an advocate of invading Iraq as Dick Cheney.
And I’m baffled by the idea that Newsweek was “insensitive” to how upsetting the item would be. The problem isn’t sensitivity, it’s flimsy information. If someone were to establish that Americans at Gitmo put a Quran in a toilet, that’s serious misconduct that needs to be revealed. The problem is the action, not the coverage.