Thursday, May 26, 2005

It must be true--after all, it's in the FBI report

One story, four headlines.

The story: in 2002-2003 some Guantanamo detainees told FBI investigators that guards had flushed a Koran down the toilet, and desecrated the Koran in other ways.

Now, the headlines:

Yahoo news: FBI memo reports Guantanamo guards flushing Koran

The Boston Globe: FBI records cite Quran abuse allegations

The LA Times: Guantanamo Detainees Had Alleged Koran Desecration--Government documents reveal perceived abuses

The New York Times: Documents Say Detainees Cited Abuse of Koran by Guards

So, we have one story and four headlines. We all know how important headlines can be, since a certain percentage of readers hardly read beyond them. There is a difference in the impact of the headlines: the first two headlines could easily lead a reader to conclude that the allegations may have had some substance or independent corroboration, while the latter two make it clear that the allegations were made only by the detainees themselves.

But then we have the overarching question: why report this particular story at all, and why now? After all, what does it tell us? It is virtually a non-story; the equivalent of "Osama Bin Laden alleges the US is out to destroy the Moslem world," or even "11th century Christians allege Jews stick pins in host." Each of these statements might end up being quoted in an FBI report (well, maybe not the second), but that doesn't mean the claimants are speaking the truth. And it isn't as though detainees at Guantanamo are unbiased sources without an ax to grind.

So, why bother to report this story at all? My guess is that it's an attempt to say "where there's smoke, there's fire. Here's the smoke." A subtle--or perhaps not so subtle?--way to circle the wagons and support Newsweek, and to drive home the point that, as Amnesty says, the US is running the Gitmo Gulag.


At 1:10 PM, May 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let this get around, but that is what is in the confidental FBI background check on judicial nominee Henry Saad: he flushed a Koran down the toilet

At 1:38 PM, May 26, 2005, Blogger Bryan said...

There are two trends in the MSM that I find disturbing:

1) The use of annonymous sources that you have previouly pointed out.

2) The use of the word "allegedly".

Two recent headlines are prime examples of the misuse of this word.


The problem with this headline was that the baby was found in the car and the woman was found in the bar partying. Where is the "allegedly"?


The problem here is that the finger was not found in the chili. If anything should be "allegedly" it is that the husband "allegedly" bought it.

Especially when dealing with criminals who are caught red-handed, I wish the MSM would just say the facts. Hinkley didn't allegedly shoot Reagan. It was on national TV. He did it.

This is from an article in the Washington Post (not a headline): "Nichols, who was on trial for rape and on the run from allegedly killing a judge, two law enforcement officers and a court reporter, shoved Smith into her own apartment in suburban Atlanta at 2 a.m., tied her up and held her at gunpoint."

He didn't allegedly kill a judge and two law enforcement officers. He DID kill a judge and two law enforcement officers. Witnesses were there and some of his actions are even on film. What's "allegedly" about it? It hasn't been proven in a court of law perhaps, but he still did it.

At 4:21 PM, May 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely #2 "not so subtle" and yet, and yet, do they even know they are doing this? Sometimes I get furious at this nonsense and other times, I just shake my head in disgust. However, since we have soldiers overseas in the midst of a volatile muslim population, I think furious is a justifiable response. What on earth is going to change the overall tone of the MSM?

At 6:03 PM, May 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bryan J. Weitzel: I'm with you on that. I wrote an entire post on the subject, entitled, "The alleged accused suspected suspect is in custody." It's here.

At 12:07 AM, May 27, 2005, Blogger chuck said...

These days "where there is smoke there is a journalist."


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