Sunday, May 22, 2005

Media megaphones

"(AFP)Saudi scholars want Islamic court to rule on alleged Quran abuse":

[even if it didn't happen!]

«RIYADH - Eighteen Saudi Muslim scholars and thinkers demanded Saturday that those involved in the alleged desecration of the Quran at the US detention facility of Guantanamo Bay be tried by an Islamic court.

“It won’t do any good if the State Department (eventually) apologizes or if it rejects this act, or if its authors are tried,” they said in a statement obtained by AFP.

“...The Islamic nation will not settle for less than the trial (of the Guantanamo culprits) by an Islamic court,” said the mostly Salafi signatories.

Riots have broken out across the Muslim world following a report in Newsweek magazine that US investigators had found that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay threw a Quran in a toilet to rattle Muslim inmates.

The magazine this week retracted the story after its source developed doubts, and the Pentagon has said its own investigation has found no evidence to support the allegation that Qurans were defiled at the offshore US prison.

The imam of the grand mosque of Makkah, Abderrahman al-Sudais, told the faithful during Friday prayers that the United States should apologize swiftly to prevent a mounting wave of anger from growing any further.»
The way this normally works is that one props up a bad story with one whose conclusion are already fixed in the readers' minds. The options are to inflate the first story or to tacitly make a shaky item look ligitimate. A two year old report originating from the US government itself on two deaths at Bagram Air Base printed at just the right time by the NYT makes Newsweek look less wrong.

By parroting, AFP is playing into the problem just as the BBC is. Auntie Beeb continues to repeat hourly the "allegation of Koran abuse" but stopped mentioning Newsweek's cock-up in their reports after three days. This is no different than letting a constituency of sentiment create news with inflated data, carefully filtered facts, and the like. Serious deadly acts are treated like issues that matter only to a handful of silly "campaigner" types.

News organizations used report news, now they're just inventing sentiment and affirming lifestyles so they'll be liked. Do they realize that they're neither bright not subtle?

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