Newsweek recently published a small piece about supposed abuses at Guantanamo Bay (click here for more info). The article stated that in order to "break" detainees and get them to tell interrogators about potential terrorist plots, the Koran was being flushed down the toilet. Based on this piece, there have been anti-American protests in Afghanistan and other countries; over a dozen people are dead and hundreds more were wounded.
Turns out, the story wasn't true. Newsweek got the information from an anonymous source. One source. I used to work at a newspaper, and one of the cardinal rules was to validate your story with at least 2 credible sources. And here is a reputable news magazine running a provocative story without doing that.
There are so many things wrong with this, in my opinion. First and foremost, of course, is the fact that people died due to the false claims of the story and additionally that it put our troops in further danger. Secondly is the question that came directly to my mind: how much can we really trust our media? Between the CBS debacle with the falsified documents pertaining to Bush's service record, the NY Times' admission that one of their reporters had been "creating" news for years, and Fox News' supposed "Fair and Balanced" everything-Bush-does-is-just-wonderful! journalism, who do we trust to find out what's really going on in the world?
And finally, its bad enough when the stories they tell about Americans perpetrating horrible acts against Muslims are true. It apalls us all to think that Americans (or anyone, really) would do things like that - we always consider ourselves above that kind of behavior (though obviously we aren't). But when the stories are untrue, its stirring a pot that should be left alone. Its as if America wasn't hated enough throughout the world that someone felt the need to add fuel to an already out of control fire.