Monday there was outrage. Tuesday there was examination. Today is Wednesday, and the focus has switched: from Newsweek, who erred and repented accordingly, and so is redeemed; to the White House, where it has settled comfortably(at least for today).
Apparently, the media doesn’t like being intimidated. From yesterday’s press briefing (via Drudge):
Q: With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it’s appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not telling them. I’m saying that we would encourage them to help –
Q: You’re pressuring them.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m saying that we would encourage them –
Q: It’s not pressure?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad.* And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong.** I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step*** that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that’s all I’m saying.**** But, no, you’re absolutely right, it’s not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report….
Q: Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you’re saying here?
Meanwhile, in the Paper of Record:
Republicans close to the White House said that although President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were genuinely angered by the Newsweek article, West Wing officials were also exploiting it in an effort to put a check on the press.
“There’s no expectation that they’re going to bring down Newsweek, but there is a feeling that there is no check on what you guys do,” said one outside Bush adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to be identified as talking about possible motives of the White House.
(oh, those damn unreliable anonymous sources)
And in Salon, EIC Joan Walsh weighs in on the larger media assault at play:
The disproportionate firestorm over Newsweek’s stumble has less to do with the riots the story sparked in the Muslim world than with the riotous power of Republican bullies and their allies in the White House and the right-wing blogosphere… Riding high after the humbling of Dan Rather, the right clearly sees another opportunity to humiliate the so-called liberal media.
Walsh also points out (as the NYT and Sploid did yesterday) Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Richard Myers didn’t think that Newsweek triggered the riots, comes down in favor of anonymous sources, and hopes journos won’t drop the Gitmo scrutiny because of one impugned report. She ends with a final dig at the White House:
Finally, it might be unseemly for Newsweek to make one additional point, but others can, and should: It’s an almost painful irony that the magazine’s troubles with the unreliable memory of a single anonymous source evokes nothing more directly than the White House’s problems with hidden sources (most of whom the White House created or encouraged) providing faulty information on weapons of mass destruction that led us into war in the first place… In the meantime, the only thing to do is acknowledge the mea culpas and move forward, and work even harder to get to the bottom of stories this White House is trying to bully journalists into ignoring.
Finally, over at Sploid, another Shift Memo of Truth wraps it up with links and poetry.
Newsweek isn’t the problem [Salon]
REPORTERS RIP BUSH SPOKESMAN OVER NEWSWEEK MESS [Drudge]
The Shift Memo Will
Fix America’s ‘Image’ [Sploid]
White House Presses Newsweek in Wake of Koran Report [NYT]
*Soldiers desecrating the Koran don’t cause riots, reports about soldiers desecrating the Koran cause riots.
**Well, that their source couldn’t remember which document he saw the also-previously-reported allegations in
***AKA “a good first step”
****Because people have to watch what they say