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Lauer: How do we blame the administration?

Posted by Richard on May 17, 2005

So, let me get this straight. Newsweek prints an inflammatory charge based on a hearsay claim by an anonymous source, with no corroboration of any kind. (The details, such as they are, don’t even make sense — in what kind of toilet can you flush a book? Must not be one of the low-flow types!) The story triggers riots in the Islamic world, perhaps orchestrated by Islamofascists, that claim at least 15 lives. Eventually, Newsweek retracts the story and apologizes.

So, when the Today Show’s Matt Lauer interviews Newsweek’s Washington Bureau Chief Dan Klaidman, he’s going to ask some tough questions to get to the bottom of Newsweek’s culpability, right? Wrong. He wants to get to the bottom of the Bush administration’s culpability — there just has to be some.

So, Lauer wants to know if the White House pressured Newsweek to retract the story in order to further the administration’s (you can almost hear the sotto voce "eeevil") foreign policy agenda. He wants to know if the criticism of Newsweek from administration officials is "piling on." And, of course, he has to remind viewers that Newsweek’s charge hasn’t really been discredited, since others have made similar allegations. (Yeah, released detainees who were taught in al Qaeda training camps to make false claims of torture, abuse, and humiliation if ever captured — and their mouthpieces at media outlets like al Jazeera, al Reuters, and al AFP.)

You can see the Lauer interview by "launching" it from this story — if you have IE6 and Windows Media Player and don’t mind watching a 30-second commercial first.

And if you have the stomach for it.

UPDATE: Too late, I saw this warning from Chrenkoff:

A way of caution to all the fellow bloggers trying to demonstrate the apparent absurdity of the claim about flushing Koran down the toilet by pointing out that the holy book is too big to fit through the pipes. I don’t think anyone can assume that Korans were indeed successfully flushed down; it’s enough for a desecration to occur if the books were merely dropped into a bowl and water flushed over them.

 

OK, point taken. But it strikes me as a pretty stupid thing to do. For one thing, when you’re done, you have to fish it back out. Yuck. For another, as Chrenkoff said:

Taunting religious sensibilities of people already thought to be religious fanatics doesn’t sound like a great way to break them or get useful information out of them.

And, as Chrenkoff noted earlier, the accusers aren’t terribly credible to anyone who isn’t predisposed to believing stories of American eeevil. That is, to radical Islamists, the French, and members of the MSM.

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