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May 24, 2005

Newsweek's Klaidman on Al-Jazeera

The Indispensible MEMRI has posted a partial transcript of a May 19 Al-Jihadi Al-Jazeera interview with Newsweek Washignton bureau chief Daniel Klaidman.

We can't see the initial question, but Klaidman goes on for two paragraphs describing the technical journalistic question of sources and sourcing, how this item ended up in their magazine. I assume the question was something like, "why did you run this item?" Then, this:

Klaidman: ...we concluded that we did not have the information that we needed to make the assertion that we did in this item Ė that this had happened.

Host: But there is no proof that it did not happen either...

Klaidman: We are neutral on whether any form of Koran desecration took place. ...we are also saying that this specific act of Koran desecration was not confirmed by the US military investigators, and that is what we reported. As to whether these things happened or not, we are, like the rest of the people out there and news organizations - we donít know. We have heard the allegations, we continue to report, and the US military and other entities are investigating, and as I said, we are neutral on whether any of this ever happened.

One would be tempted to ask what on God's green earth Klaidman was thinking, if we didn't already know.

The Al-Jazeera reporters deftly changes the subject from Newsweek's lousy reporting to the truth of the underlying charges, asking Klaidman to admit that he can't prove that George Bush isn't receiving intergalactic messages through his fillings.

And Klaidman goes along! Here he is, appearing on what amounts to the propaganda arm of Al Qaeda, the closest thing we have to enemy television. He's staring into the eyes of man who quite obviously hates him as an American and as a Jew. He's got the attention of millions of people for whom CNN isn't anti-American enough. And he acts like he's trying to be the peacemaker at a college debating society.

Even if Newsweek's judgment weren't already compromised, merely by agreeing to appear, Klaidman calls into question his ability to differentiate reporting from propaganda. But this "defense," this complete refusal to defend his country's conduct of the war only compounds the problem.

Look, I don't expect him to go on enemy TV and say something like, "you people need to cool it. Some of your co-religionists have issues with perspective and proportion, and some of you might want to take them aside and teach them how to behave like civilized people." No, that would be asking too much, and Newsweek already has image problems in Arabic.

Something like, "the reason this was news at all was because the US Army has tried so hard to be Religiously Correct that they've issued a supply contract for prayer mats and Korans, and practically has the kitchen staff fom the Mecca Marriott preparing the meals down at Gitmo," would have worked.

Whose side are they on, indeed.

Posted by joshuasharf at May 24, 2005 01:52 PM | TrackBack

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