professionalism/propaganda

According to an article by Charles McGrath (“The reporter who put Monica on the map.” New York Times 5/17/05: A16), communications professionals (or “reporters”) view submitting stories to the Pentagon for approval to be the definition of “professionalism.”

Michael Isikoff, a reporter who works for Newsweek, wrote a piece on the desecration of the Koran by American guards at the Guantanamo concentration camp. Although Isikoff submitted it, per “professional” standards to the Pentagon for approval, the Pentagon failed to censor the article. It was published in Newsweek. After Islamists protested the desecration, the White House criticized the article for hurting the U.S.’s image, and Newsweek retracted the report.

However, the problem was not with the communications professional’s professionalism.

“Neither Newsweek nor the Pentagon foresaw that a reference to the desecration of the Koran was going to create the kind of response it did,” Isikoff explained. “The Pentagon saw the item before it ran, and then they didn’t move us off it for 11 days afterward. They were as caught off guard by the furor as we were.”

Mark Whitaker, the editor of Newsweek, said in an interview yesterday, “Everybody behaved professionally and by the book in this case.”

Isikoff first achieved fame by investigating former President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. After Isikoff’s then-employer The Washington Post expressed reluctance to print the scandal, Newsweek offered Isikoff a job. The scandal provided a rationale for the Republicans’ attempt to impeach the Democratic President.

Newsweek should probably be classified as private-state cooperative propaganda. However, we probably have to assume that it is such private-state cooperative propaganda that sets the professional standards of the “news” business.

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