I knew there was something wrong with the Newsweek story and the ensuing riots as soon as I heard the news.

First, just how do you flush a Quran? With the government-mandated toilets we’re forced to use, you can barely flush what’s supposed to be flushed, much less a book. Any book!

Second, how is it that as soon as “spontaneous” riots break out for any anti-American pretext anywhere in the world, there are always multitudes of American flags available for stomping, spitting and burning? Who supplies them? Where are they stored? How do they get to the location of the riot? Who pays for them?

If I ever needed further evidence the media don’t get it, this was it.

They really don’t get it and they’re not inclined to try.

The media are so empowered by their constitutional protections, so enamored of their role as the Fourth Estate and so emboldened by their free pass to say, do, print and broadcast what they choose, they’ve lost touch with the fact that protections and privileges carry with them responsibilities.

They don’t know the meaning of that word.

Essentially, they do have the responsibility to tell the truth – all of it. Not the truth as they see it, believe it, or want it to be, but the truth as it is, whether they like it or not.

Within that is the responsibility to present the facts of a news event without an agenda. Unless they’re actually doing commentary, the information – the news – needs to be presented without shading.

They knew it once – perhaps – but that’s gone now. They’re taught it isn’t possible to be unbiased and there’s no such thing as “truth” – just what different people perceive. Everything is open to interpretation. Everything is equally valid.

Media rail about government control of news, yet see no contradiction in the situation where they control what the public is fed in print and broadcast. For them, media control of the news is OK; government influence is, by definition, bad.

They believe they’re untouchable – and in many ways they are. When critics call them “the media elite,” they’re dead right. To media insiders, the rest of us are to be led, instructed and often, ignored and demeaned.

They’re privy to the “truth,” and we’re the little people who don’t know better and can only know what they tell us. It’s the media version of “barefoot and pregnant.”

But the “little people” are wise to their act. It may be the beginning of the end.

It’s about time.

Network news ratings have plunged, and not because of changes in anchors. Scandals from Dan Rather on down have soiled the sheets.

Newspaper circulation is bleeding. The piling on of scandals – lies and plagiarism – have poisoned that well. According to the latest survey by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, of the nation’s top 20 papers, only three have upped circulation over last year, but all under 1 percent.

Newsweek lied, but did so because in the thin air of East Coast journalism, the purpose was more important than the message. It was a scoop. It would air more alleged scandal to shame and incriminate the United States, the U.S. military and especially President Bush and his administration.

Newsweek printed the scandalous story without verifying its truth or reaffirming sources. Reporters Michael Isikoff and John Barry and their editors printed the offending lines because it suited their image of what they imagined and wanted the truth to be. It didn’t hurt it was another juicy insult to hurl at the Pentagon and the White House. Why else would they ignore the standard reporting procedures of verifying sources?

Logic? Did they even think about the possibility of flushing a book? In what kind of toilet?

That there would be consequences to their sleight of hand apparently never entered their mind. Perhaps they just didn’t care.

That they didn’t consider this “news” being used as anti-American propaganda is hard to believe. Could they be so naive?

Perhaps it was an acceptable consequence to them. That riots ensued, innocent people were killed and property destroyed was something that just happened. Not their fault. They regret it. They “feel terrible about it.” Their hands are clean.

Sounds like a rehash of Jane Fonda’s retrospective of her despicable performance for the North Vietnamese.

When everything hit the fan, Newsweek didn’t admit it was wrong, but apologized and then finally retracted the story. As though the Arab street cares.

Oh, and no one will be disciplined.

Then the media circled wagons and aimed their guns of fault at the administration. The rumors of mistreatment and disrespect of Islam are out there. They quoted prisoner allegations. Must be true, right?

Funny how they’re quick to accept the word of the enemy and consider anything said by our government to be a cover-up.

The media took umbrage the administration was unhappy about the damage done to peace efforts and the war on terror.

Media fumed: How dare the government even hint the media have a responsibility not to put our troops in danger, not to put Americans across the world in danger, not to undermine military action. How dare the government criticize freedom of the press?

Well, I’ll ask how dare the media be so cavalier with their responsibility to give the public the news and the truth? How dare the media take the side – again – of Islam when it routinely ignores or makes light of degradation and blasphemy of Christian and Jewish religion and traditions? When was the last time you heard media outrage about desecration of churches, synagogues, cemeteries, Bibles, Torahs, sacraments, art, rituals, and Christian and Jewish beliefs?

Don’t hold your breath while thinking.

The media are self-destructing and now with other sources of information, the people can see through their veil of deception.

And the people don’t like it.

Surprise. Surprise.

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