Dear Newsweek: Cancel My Subscription

Truthfully, it was only a matter of time. I stumbled into being a reader of Newsweek by purchasing it from a niece or nephew for a school fundraiser. I’ve kept the subscription for the past couple of years because I felt it was (at least) a good alternate source of information. But after being a consistent reader for some time, I began to find myself talking back to the damn thing more and more. I’d read stories that were either obviously slanted toward a particular view or espousing facts and figures that were so easily countered that I began to question the integrity of the entire publication.

And then this story about the Koran comes out. I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but here’s the synopsis:

Newsweek ran a story citing one annonymous source that soldiers at Guantanamo Bay flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet as a means of coercing prisoners into talking. (The logic of this escapes me, by the way.) The story has widely been blamed for riots in the Middle East, the results of which were at least 17 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Newsweek has since retracted the story, citing that the source “can’t remember” where he saw the allegations and, in fact, can’t vouch for the validity.

I have several problems with this entire episode, not the least of which include:

  • What kind of mindset do you have to have to kill someone over the desecration of a book? Seriously, I have no problem with Islam and I believe that people should be able to believe anything they like. But the physical book – the pages and the ink – are not the same as the message of the words. Even if you hold the words and message to be sacred, isn’t the book (which was made by man), just a book?
  • Even if the story was true (and it might yet be), what was Newsweek hoping to accomplish? Is something like this newsworthy, or just inflammatory? Couldn’t they have guessed how this might be received around the world? Couldn’t they have anticipated the likely response?

I believe they probably had both guessed and anticipated correctly, but decided it was better to sell more copies of their magazine that to examine the authenticity of the story, the veracity of the source, or the responsibility associated with printing it.

Now seventeen people are dead, hundreds are wounded, and our efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been seriously undermined… all due to a story that, in the end, may not be true.


  1. Definitely cancel that subscription…I’m doing the same.

  2. Did the people responsible for the killing actually cite the artical or is that just hearsay?

  3. Every account I’ve seen has used words to the effect that the story prompted the response, often saying something like this article from the UPI wire: “The report, however, led to deadly riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as anti-U.S. demonstrations across the Muslim world.” In fact, I’ve read that “indignation over the Newsweek story first surfaced in Pakistan at a news conference by Imran Khan, a leading critic of the U.S.-led war on terrorism.” So it would seem that some people who were focused on exploiting this issue have used the story to their advantage.

  4. Could we cancle George Bush too? He got it wrong about the WMD.

  5. Humm, if you toss gasoline onto a fire, does that make you responsible for the flames?

  6. Jim,You are absolutely right the message and the words are different than the book. Worshipping a book is against Christianity and Islam. The press that made that book could have churned out pornography next or before and the reader would never know the difference.What is important about Christianity is not that it was written in the bible, but the message endures. Muslims should see it the same way, unfortunately they live in the dark ages. I know because I’m here.

  7. This all smacks of misdirection to me. The real cause of those riots is American behavior over the past 4 years. I think it was convenient for the White House to blame the Newsweek article, but accounts from on-site claim the Newsweek article was a very minor issue.I think you can firmly place responsibility for the 17 deaths, along with over 1,600 American Soldier deaths and countless Iraqi’s on the Bush Administration. This blood is truly on their hands.

  8. I don’t pretend to be politically astute, but inflammatory media coverage is a pet peeve of mine.And man has our media ever become a ridiculous and dangerous entity.

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