Friday, May 20, 2005
David Brooks Might Have Missed the Point
In his op-ed about Newsweek Bashing, David Brooks asserts that the Newsweek blunder and retraction "has sent everybody into cloud-cuckoo-land." What has "everybody" said that he thinks is so off the mark? He actually points at three things: (1) the right blames the liberal bias of Newsweek; (2) the left contends that the Newsweek report was true, regardless of their retraction; and (3) the government is using the Newsweek blunder to gain popularity points. He has a point about excessively blaming liberal bias, if that's what people from "the right" are saying. I've seen some of the blogs he might be referring to and I don't think that's their point. People have biases, and we can only urge them to study the issues dilligently, in the hope that they will change their views. The point is not the bias but the incompetence that let the bias get in the way of responsible journalism. Catholic blogs I've seen at least are all about what a blunder this was, how incompetent that was for a seasoned writer to publish without reasonable certainty. They can put all their biases in their op-eds, but when they talk about events, they had better do their homework first. Mr. Brooks also has a point about the left ignoring Newsweek's retraction, continuing to rant and rave that the desecration incident did happen. They already know how the extremists used the story to whip up violence and hatred? It is irresponsible to drag it on, knowing the grave consequences, when they don't have their own credible evidence. As for the government being tough on Newsweek and sensitive to Afghanistan -- what does Mr. Brooks expect? First and foremost, lives were lost. Furthermore, diplomatic ties with Afghanistan were sorely tested and civil order was momentarily lost. Afghanistan is trying to rebuild and recover from the rubbles of war, and America has invested years, resources and lives. Of course the government is concerned! What should worry him is if the government says "oh well, these things happen," disregarding the loss of lives in the riots and subsequent attempts to commit violence against Americans as a result of that erroneous news report. Mr. Brooks made some good points in the article. The real problem is the advocacy of violence and hatred from the extremists, but we don't have to give up our peripheral vision. Mr. Brooks didn't address the issue: so what did cause the Newsweek blunder? He didn't say. Next, is he really telling people to forgive and forget? Newsweek accepts responsibility for the consequences of their actions, and that's good. We can forgive, but we cannot forget -- certainly not the media, lest this sort of thing happens again.