Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek Trumps the "Downing Street Memo"

The Department of Louise takes note of something I had thought about and was going to post on tonight, the effect of the overblown Newsweek mistake on the "Downing Street" memo. Says Opus (and Louise),
"I can't help but notice that any attention The Memo might have received has been diverted. I suppose you could say this is a more immediate crisis, but in terms of lives lost? I don't think this escaped Karl's attention; and it only takes him an hour or so to program new talking points into Scott's software. Look! Over here! Bad media!"
Obviously the White House and the Pentagon didn't plan Newsweek's report, but they certainly exploited it for all it was worth. Consider the chronology here: The smoking gun memo comes out in the British press on May 1 and, while widely noted in blogs and on line magazines, is completely ignored by the US dailies. Early last week, before Newsweek hit the stands (or the net), anti-American rioting breaks out in Afghanistan, obviously caused by issues unrelated to an as yet unpublished news report. The Newsweek article comes out. Then, on May 13, the Downing Street memo finally hits the print press (although buried). Needing a diversion, the White House and Pentagon, which before the 13th had denied that the lethal rioting had been related to the Newsweek Article, change their story. The press, able to follow the bouncing ball but unable to remember where it had been, picks up on this new theme and joins in piling on Newsweek. Incredibly, Newsweek, lacking the courage of its convictions (or, more likely, lacking any actual convictions) folds. It couldn't have played out better if Karl Rove had scripted it three weeks ago. The fact that he scripted it on the fly and made it work with such lightweight talent as McClellan and DiRita is truly impressive.
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