Thursday, May 19, 2005

What to Run and What to Spike

Ann Coulter gives an interesting perspective on Newsweek's record of spiking or running scoops by Michael Isikoff. Link.
When ace reporter Michael Isikoff had the scoop of the decade, a thoroughly sourced story about the president of the United States having an affair with an intern and then pressuring her to lie about it under oath, Newsweek decided not to run the story. Matt Drudge scooped Newsweek, followed by The Washington Post.

When Isikoff had a detailed account of Kathleen Willey's nasty sexual encounter with the president in the Oval Office, backed up with eyewitness and documentary evidence, Newsweek decided not to run it. Again, Matt Drudge got the story.

When Isikoff was the first with detailed reporting on Paula Jones' accusations against a sitting president, Isikoff's then-employer The Washington Post — which owns Newsweek — decided not to run it. The American Spectator got the story, followed by the Los Angeles Times.

So apparently it's possible for Michael Isikoff to have a story that actually is true, but for his editors not to run it. [...]

Newsweek seems to have very different responses to the same reporter's scoops. Who's deciding which of Isikoff's stories to run and which to hold? I note that the ones that Matt Drudge runs have turned out to be more accurate — and interesting! — than the ones Newsweek runs. Maybe Newsweek should start running everything past Matt Drudge.

Somehow Newsweek missed the story a few weeks ago about Saudi Arabia arresting 40 Christians for "trying to spread their poisonous religious beliefs." But give the American media a story about American interrogators defacing the Quran, and journalists are so appalled there's no time for fact-checking — before they dash off to see the latest exhibition of "Piss Christ."

Right wing conspiracy buffs might just see a pattern here. Obviously, Newsweek does not see all news as worth running. Just as obviously, they do not see all of the work of their top investigative reporter as worth running. It isn't the assuredness of the accuracy. They ran with a story based on one anonymous source, and spiked stories with multiple, identifiable sources. There appears to be only one rule. If it hurts the US military or a Republican administration - run it. If it hurts a Democratic administration (or even the US military during a Democratic administration) - spike it.


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