See, we only peed on it

There’s a wonderful moment in The Fog of War, a terrific documentary detailing the life of former U.S. defence secretary Robert McNamara, where he admits that they used to love releasing bad news late on a Friday in the hopes of missing the major media news cycle. The fact that I watched the film Friday night, an hour after I read that the Pentagon admitted Guantanamo guards, kicked, soaked and pissed on Korans, was deliciously ironic. Or at least Morisette-ironic, I can never tell anymore.

For those that missed the story, you’re not alone. The Globe and Mail, National Post, Ottawa Citzen, Toronto Star, and a laundry list of other Canadian papers did too. It’s not that they didn’t have access to it, as the Canadian Press put the story out on the wire and it was picked up by the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Vancouver Province, Winnipeg Free Press, Montreal Gazette and others – they just chose not to run it. If you’re interested, read it here.
Interesting, especially when you go back over the things that those papers said about Newsweek’s now famous article about Koran desecration.

“The whole sorry incident shows just how eager many in the Western media are to smear the United States administration and undermine the moral foundations of the war on terror. Would Newsweek and others have been as outraged by a Bible burning or as ready to sympathize with people who took that burning as justification for running amok and killing scores of people? We doubt it.”
– “One bad story, 16 dead,” National Post, May 17, 2005.

“Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the Koran story, however, is that Newsweek‘s editors did not recognize the explosive nature of the material, or anticipate the international firestorm it would spark. Had they done so, they wouldn’t have run the piece as a tiny brief, and would have verified their facts and sources more carefully.”
– “Newsweek’s mistake,” Ottawa Citizen, May 21, 2005

Newsweek magazine made an error with fatal consequences when it reported this month on the alleged desecration of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, by United States military interrogators.”
-“Newsweek’s stumble,” Globe and Mail, May 18, 2005.

Yup, you’d figure that given all that, these papers would want to report on the news that the Koran WAS desecrated by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo. But no. For shits and gigles, let’s do a quick rundown of the whole story, shall we?
– Newsweek reports in a short brief that a U.S. Army Southern Command report on allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo is expected to include allegations that the Koran was desecrated.
– The story is out for a few days, nobody in the U.S. administration says anything.
– The story is picked up by a few Arab outlets.
– Riots break out across the Muslim world, some protesters are killed in the melee (16 was the last number I heard).
– The Pentagon, Rumsfeld, Bush et al. scream at Newsweek, deny the story and call it irresponsible
– Many media outlets pick up on the tone, decrying the irresponsible use of unnamed sources
– Those same media outlets continue to use unnamed sources themselves, do not notice the hypocrisy
– Newsweek retracts the story after their source recants
– Newsweek apologizes for the violence caused by their story
– FBI documents show that inmates did actually complain that their Korans were flushed down the toilet (see this post and the related comments)
– Story goes mostly unreported
– The Pentagon admits to several incidents of Koran desecration
– Story goes mostly unreported

What the hell has to happen before the mainstream press picks this up? More coverage was given to a semantic debate about whether or not Guantanamo is a gulag or not. It’s unreal.

Throw it into the water son, the ocean will take it away
A few weeks ago, there was quite a bit of concern that the U.S. wanted to test-fire a rocket over the Atlantic. Apparently the booster rocket was going to splash down perilously close to some oil platforms. All went well, though, and the test went off without a hitch.
Erm, except that the booster rocket’s fuel tanks are filled with a potentially lethal combination of chemicals. Yea, the story is here. A few papers grabbed the CP story, but the Globe and Mail decided to edit out some fairly important information. Namely, the comments from Environment Canada about the nature of the threat.
Now, I’ve already gone on a bit about cutting up wire stories recently, so I won’t rehash that all now. Just read the CBC story I linked to above and decide if you think the EnvCan quotes are important. The Globe didn’t.

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