Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: Nice Goin’, Guys [Newsweek is much easier to flush]
Posted on 05/25/2005 7:00:18 PM PDT by Constitution Day
Nice Goin, Guys
Newsweek is much easier to flush.
To us old Fleet Street hands, Michael Isikoff will always be the guy who lost the Monica scoop. He had the Lewinsky story first, but his bosses at Newsweek killed it at the last minute. They wanted more sources, more corroboration: Its all very well having presidential DNA on the interns cocktail dress, but we really need a second stain on a second dress before it would be responsible to run this thing. If you cant get a second dress, the Columbia Journalism School Book of Media Ethics says its okay to make do with a cashmere sweater, as long as its in an approved pastel shade (the sweater, not the stain). The point is, on a big scoop like this, we need to get everything nailed down airtight, even if that means we dont break it until, oh, somewhere round the middle of Al Gores second term.
So Isikoff lost his story, and Drudge broke it instead and made his name. Flash-forward seven years to the spring of 2005: Isikoff is still at work at Newsweek, possibly still working on trying to nail down his Monica scoop. Suddenly, a knowledgeable U.S. government source tips him off on a hot story: At Guantanamo Bay, interrogators got prisoners to talk by flushing a copy of the Koran down the toilet. Like all stories, this scoop immediately went through the full, exhaustive, ultra-rigorous Newsweek editing process. Thus, the spelling of Koran was changed to the more culturally sensitive Quran. A senior editor then took a further look at the controversial story and said, Hmm. I dunno. Shouldnt it be Quran? Or maybe Qur-an? Id be happier if we could get a couple of extra apostrophes in there . . .
And then they ran the story. And, as we now know, it sparked riots in Pakistan and elsewhere that left 15 people dead. And, unlike the fact-checked-to-death Monica story, the Quran-down-the-toilet story turned out to be whats the word? untrue.
As should have been obvious even to Isikoff and his colleagues. Is it possible to flush a Koran down the toilet? It takes a bit of effort to get even an average issue of Newsweek down and round the bend. I tried flushing Michael Isikoffs Uncovering Clinton: A Reporters Story down there and wound up getting water all over my wingtips and squelching off in my socks to call a plumber. And Isikoffs book is only 416 pages. My copy of the Quran is 950 pages, though if you reduce the apostrophes you can get it down under 800. The suras-down-the-septic story was an obvious crock. All it had going for it was that the magazine wanted it to be true.
Its important to remember, Isikoff told the Washington Post, there was absolutely no lapse in journalistic standards here. And thats true. The fake Koran-flushing lives up entirely to the CBS bogus National Guard memos: an honest mistake that, like all the mainstream medias honest mistakes, is a mistake that will, if true, damage the Bush administration. By contrast, when the Swiftvets come along, whoa, hold your horses, lets get the slo-mo fact-checkers in for three or four months, at least until, say, mid-November. The only difference this time around is that there seems to be some serious damage to Americas reputation in parts of the Muslim world otherwise well disposed to the Great Satan Afghanistan notably and the little matter of 15 corpses, which makes Michael Isikoff considerably more lethal than, say, Lynndie England.
The rules for this sort of thing are well known. Last year, an old leftie Scots pal of mine, Alistair Beaton, wrote an anti-war satire which included Bush and Blair singing Were Sending You a Cluster Bomb from Jesus. Ha-ha. Alistairs play opened at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in England and did boffo biz. In his merciless evisceration of Bush-Blair and the radical Christian threat to world peace, Alistair was operating in the tradition of bold, courageous, transgressive artists without whom a free society cannot survive. And happily, crazy as they are, these Christian fundamentalist types dont tend to be waiting for you at the stage door. Whereas, if you write, Were Sending You a Schoolgirl Bomb from Allah, you attract a somewhat livelier crowd, and its hard to pick up showbiz awards for your boldness, courage, transgressiveness, etc., when youre six feet under. Ask Theo van Gogh. As a rule, if youre going to be provocative, its best to do it with people who cant be provoked.
Journalists understand this, too. When Christians get hot and bothered about a horny Jesus (The Last Temptation of Christ), a gay Jesus (Terrence McNallys Broadway play Corpus Christi), or a Jesus floating in the artists urine (Piss Christ), columnists take to the barricades to champion the cause of free speech. When Muslim groups closed down a play in Cleveland because its revolting apologia for a Palestinian suicide bomber was insufficiently pro-Muslim, the silence of the media lambs was deafening.
But somehow, when its the merest hint of a rumor of a canard about Bush stooges flushing the Koran down the toilet, Newsweek doesnt bother thinking through the consequences. Thats the real problem here: not the reflex leftism but the pathetic hicky parochialism of a U.S. media unable to see things except through the tunnel vision of domestic partisan advantage. Whos really the culturally insensitive ones here?
Steyn ping, please?
We could really all just stop posting and read Steyn and we would be the better for it.
That whole thing was hardcore, one of his best.
The dude just so nailed it again.
Please Flush twice.
France, China, and Russia are a long way away, and they want their newsprint back.
And thanks for not being the Mad Excerpter.
Glad you enjoyed it.
You're quite welcome!
I sure am glad that Mark is on our side.
Mark Steyn Mega-Bump!
Loved it! His best in a while.
Hope it's unexcerpted ... I'm getting pretty cranky!
Steyn is one of the funniest writers out there but sometimes reality is even funnier.
"The silence of the media lambs." He is a polemical genius.
Good point, Mark!
Steyn missed pointing out the obvious fact that most of the rioting Muslims had to have the concept of a flushable toilet explained to them.
Bump for later
Wonderful post...Thank you. Steyn always makes my day!
Good advice for cowardly leftists everywhere.
The problem with Newsweek is that the paper is too slick to wipe with.
Newsweek: America is dead (U.S. Flag Shown in Trashcan on Cover!)
Riding Sun Blog ^ | 5/23/2005 01:17:00 | GaijinBiker
Posted on 05/22/2005 1:12:32 PM CDT by FreedomCalls
And Isikoffs book is only 416 pages. My copy of the Quran is 950 pages, though if you reduce the apostrophes you can get it down under 800. The suras-down-the-septic story was an obvious crock. All it had going for it was that the magazine wanted it to be true.
And a Lileks ping, too - he's brilliant.
<< I sure am glad that Mark is on our side. >>
Well, of course he's on our side.
He is an intact Man and has a brain.
There's nowhere else for him to be!
Or get someone else to take the brunt of it! Remember when Salman Rushdie incurred a fatwa and proclaimed -- from an undisclosed location -- that bookstores were being cowardly in taking his book off display? Those minimum-wage clerks should be willing to stand up for freedom of expression!
Go Mark go!
I think that is why we here people from the left screaming the evil Christians are going to Dominate the country. If they said the same thing about the islamists, well the authors would face more than mild protests and letters to the editor.
Wow. Have I mentioned that Steyn is -- what's the word -- great? :-)
This is merely typical Steyn, which is to say devastating, perspicuous and near perfect.
WOW SO good. This one's getting bookmarked.
I got an offer in the mail yesterday to get a whole year of Newsweek for $20.
I am returning the postage paid reply envelope full of other junk mail.
HA! I did that to the New Yorker a couple of years ago.
I think they got the message.
I tried flushing Michael Isikoffs Uncovering Clinton: A Reporters Story down there and wound up getting water all over my wingtips and squelching off in my socks to call a plumber. And Isikoffs book is only 416 pages. My copy of the Quran is 950 pages, though if you reduce the apostrophes you can get it down under 800. The suras-down-the-septic story was an obvious crock.
IOW - They're not only on the other side in this battle, they're acting (?) really, really STOOOOOOPID, too. ROFLMAO-AGAIN!!!!!!!!
Steyn Rocks! BTTT
This bears repeating!
Thanks for the ping, Pokey.
Thanks for posting Constitution Day.
I love Steyn. The Babe Ruth of columnists.
Please add me to your Lilek's list, Constitution Day.
Thanks for linking to that article. I would have missed it.
Glad you enjoyed that.
Thanks for the ping.
Thanks for the wonderful ping, Pokey!
That line alone is pure genius, and is so true of all the Christian bashing progressives of our society. Bash Christians and pretend to live in fear of them at the same time...JFK
Superb effort by the best in the business.
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