Skip to comments.NEWSWEEK “Isikoffed” the Gonzales Memo (re: Geneva Convention)
Posted on 09/18/2006 8:13:55 AM PDT by lowbridge
NEWSWEEK Isikoffed the Gonzales Memo
Since Christopher Hitchens is correcting old Dowdified quotes, I thought Id correct one myself. This one, from a 2004 NEWSWEEK article, is a major Dowdification in my view, every bit as egregious as Dowds original. Whats more, its still influencing lefties even today.
Worse, unlike Dowds alteration of a Bush quote, the NEWSWEEK story didnt even use an ellipsis to indicate what was missing. By altering an Alberto Gonzales quote in this way, NEWSWEEK managed to make Gonzales and the Bush Administration appear unreasonably dismissive of the Geneva Convention.
The story was co-authored by Michael Isikoff the reporter behind NEWSWEEKs infamous Koran-in-the-toilet story that resulted in deadly riots in several Arab countries. Accordingly, I suggest that when a quote is altered without any hint that it has been changed, the quote should be described as having been Isikoffed.
Here are the details of how the Gonzales torture memo was Isikoffed by NEWSWEEK:
The quote is from a May 24, 2004 NEWSWEEK story by Isikoff, John Barry, and Michael Hirsh. Here is the quote, with the relevant portion in bold type:
By Jan. 25, 2002, according to a memo obtained by NEWSWEEK, it was clear that Bush had already decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply at all, either to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. . . . “As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war,” Gonzales wrote to Bush. . . . Gonzales concluded in stark terms: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.
There is no ellipsis at the end of the last sentence. If you believe NEWSWEEK, the sentence ended there. The way NEWSWEEK quoted Gonzales, it sounded as though Gonzales thought Geneva Convention restrictions on coercive interrogations were “quaint.” Leftists across the nation went nuts.
Just one problem: NEWSWEEK altered the quote, chopping Gonzales’s final sentence in half. This alteration completely changed its meaning. What’s more, the NEWSWEEK quotation did nothing to indicate that the end of the sentence had been lopped off.
Let’s go to the source — Gonzales’s original memo. The following is Gonzales’s entire quote, taken straight from Page 2 of his memo. I have bolded the part that NEWSWEEK removed:
In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges, script (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments.”
Instead of including the bold material after the word “provisions,” the NEWSWEEK article simply sliced off the end of the sentence, and put a period after the word “provisions” — as if the sentence ended there. Not even an ellipsis remained to signify that the sentence had been truncated, and its meaning distorted beyond recognition.
As is clear when one reads Gonzales’s actual quote, Gonzales was talking about things that actually were quaint. As it happens, a New York Times magazine piece from yesterday described the warden of Guantánamo Bay struggling with the issue of how to apply the Geneva Conventions — and summarily rejecting the idea that he had any obligation to implement the antiquated provisions referred to in the Gonzales memo:
[Col. Mike Bumgarner, the warden of Guantánamo Bay] thought it obvious that many of the rights would never apply to Guantánamo detainees. No one was going to allow the distribution of musical instruments to suspected terrorists, as the 1940s-era conventions stipulated for the captured soldiers of another army. No one was going to pay the detainees a stipend to spend at a base canteen.
Despite the fact that Gonzales was on target with his observation regarding the Convention’s “quaint” provisions, many lefty blogs linked the NEWSWEEK piece, and quoted the Dowdified version as evidence of the evil intent of the Bush Administration. TalkLeft, Kevin Drum, and Josh Marshall all reproduced the Isikoffed quote. The story was also linked by Duncan Black. Not one of these blogs noted the Dowdification — nor did any of the other major blogs that cited the story, as evidenced by a check of the Memeorandum entry for the NEWSWEEK story. The story is still repeated on lefty blogs. In May of this year, it was linked by Arianna Huffington — and it was even linked yesterday, by lefty HuffPo blogger Harry Shearer.
Indeed, to my knowledge, not a single blog on the Web noticed that the quote in the NEWSWEEK story had been
Dowdified Isikoffed — until today.
It’s true that NEWSWEEK was not the only media outlet to distort Gonzales’s memo. Many media outlets and commentators ripped the word “quaint” out of context to make it sound like Gonzales thought the entirety of the Geneva Convention was “quaint.” In an ironic twist, Maureen Dowd herself did exactly this. In his outgoing piece titled 13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did, long-suffering New York Times ombudsman Dan Okrent complained:
Maureen Dowd was still writing that Alberto R. Gonzales “called the Geneva Conventions ‘quaint’ ” nearly two months after a correction in the news pages noted that Gonzales had specifically applied the term to Geneva provisions about commissary privileges, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments.
It’s bad enough that so many outlets used the word “quaint” out of context to smear Gonzales and his position. But to my knowledge, NEWSWEEK is the only outlet that purported to quote the relevant passage in its “entirety” — while chopping off the relevant context without any hint that it had ever existed.
The altered quote is obviously deliberate; Gonzales’s sentence was truncated for a reason. What’s more, Michael Isikoff, the co-author of the piece, is the reporter primarily responsible for the bogus “Koran in the toilet” story that resulted in deadly riots across the Arab world. You don’t get things this wrong this often unless there’s a reason. Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again.
I mean, even Maureen Dowd had the decency to use an ellipsis!
Gonzales wasn’t just Dowdified. What happened to him was worse: he was Isikoffed.
Oh...and is this the same ISIKOFF....that has written the book Hubris with David Corn??
I wonder how much he "left out" of that book that would make it even worse for Armitage, Powell and Fitzgerald?
He and Newsweek obviously have a habit of this..
Thank you SO much for the ping!
Is that enemy + media or enema + media?
If it's not "both" it should be!
"Jason Blair in white drag"----heh----nice zinger.
Yes, one and the same Isikoff - not only did he have the ridulous hubris to write the "Hubris" screed with socialist scumbag David Corn, but he has a history of propagandistic behavior on behalf of the Demagogues and against Republicans.
p.s. This is my post #5,555 on FR! I wonder if that has any great numerological significance.....
Thanks for the ping and your commentary. So many literally dishonest and dishonorable people abound in the world of news media. And they are totally free to print their misinformation with the understanding that the masses are not educated enough to discern between their deceit and verifiable facts. Such is the world of freedom. The bitter two edge sword.
FGS --- what's next?
Good post devolve
Apart from not buying Newsweek, what can be done, legally yet effectively, to bring about the demise of this lying rag?
That scumbag Isikoff is one slimy snake in the grass.
If everybody tells their kids' orthodontists to cancel their subscriptions, that'll be the end of Newsweek.
"...another Jason Blair ..."
I'm glad that someone noticed the White Drag zinger.
Amazing how the left wing blogs and MSM mediots keep posting and printing the same garbage which has been proven to be nothing but liberal wet dreams and lies posing as news.