An anonymous source at Newsweek tells me that there's real agitation and concern among the staff about the way the magazine's leadership is caving to administration pressure, and real nostalgia for the days of Katherine Graham. What is Newsweek apologizing for, anyway? An improperly sourced story? Or for the spread of virulent Anti-Americanism around the globe?
Now that the White House has made it clear that retracting the Koran story was not enough, and that Newsweek should "do more," where should the beleaguered magazine turn for guidance? Perhaps it should take its cue from the White House on how to respond when a staffer screws up, and damages U.S. credibility abroad -- especially in the Arab world. That’s right... Newsweek should give Mike Isikoff a promotion. Maybe a cabinet position. An ambassadorship, perhaps. Why not a special George Tenet signature Presidential Medal of Freedom?
Thankfully, not everybody has been as cowed by McClellan as Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker (will someone please get him off his knees?). This is a perfect blog story. We’re now in the stage that BB (Before Blogs), the media wouldn’t get to. Instead of following the party line, bloggers are zeroing in on the incredible hypocrisy coming out of the White House.
Our own Harry Shearer has an idea for how Newsweek could "do more," while over at Democracy Arsenal, Suzanne Nossel reminds us that maybe this wouldn’t have happened if we’d had our "Goodwill Ambassador" Karen Hughes on the job. Over at the Washington Monthly, Kevin Drum points out how odd it is that conservatives tend to blame the rioters themselves and not the catalyst if said catalyst is, say, Paul Bremer, as was the case in Najaf.
First Draft has done the legwork to point out that this role as a media critic is new for Scott McClellan. Congressman and HuffPost contributor John Conyers comes out swinging on Daily Kos: "It is time to circle the wagons and demand that the press corps continue to be vigilant.” But it is Jeff Huber at Pen and Sword that has been the most deft at putting Newsweek’s sins in perspective.
If only the administration were as aggressive in pursuing Al Qaeda terrorists as they are in pursuing the American media.