Newsweek Puts Out the Fire--Not
I'm as quick to lash the media as the next guy, but let's look at what happened here. Did the Koran get flushed down the toilet or not? I don't know. But before we tar and feather the reporters involved, let's see what happened.
According to a Newsweek article on the subject:
[investigative reporter Michael Isikoff] called "a longtime reliable source, a senior U.S. government official who was knowledgeable about the matter. The source told Isikoff that the report would include new details that were not in the FBI e-mails, including mention of flushing the Qur'an down a toilet."
An editor's note says roughly the same thing.
Isikoff and a colleague tried to get a second source, couldn't. Asked for comment. Got none. Went with the piece. Firestorm. Source recants.
Well, I hate to throw cold water on all the outrage, but I have to say: What these two reporters did was not especially unusual in journalism, and met minimal journalism standards. A source misled them. Newsweek may have rules requiring multiple sourcing in such instances. But if only one source is allowed by Newsweek's procedures--well, then you can't go out and hang the reporters involved. The culprit here is a scoop-hungry Newsweek, but I'd hate to see two good reporters get fed to the wolves as a result.
Remember that Isikoff was hot on the Lewinsky story back in the days when it was politically correct to turn a blind eye toward Clinton's transgressions. So he is definitely a top guy in the business, not a third-rate chump trying to make the administration look bad.