Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A reader takes issue with Monday's Candorville

A reader took issue with this past Monday's strip, which satirized the White House's offensive against Newsweek Magazine. Since it appears to be based on a misconception, I'll post my answer to this reader here in case anyone else got the wrong idea:

Hello, Mr Bell,

I'm still catching up after an absence, but I wanted to take issue w/
C'ville Monday.

Hey, I'm a staunch fan, but I think you crossed a line w/ this edition.
Sure, you satirized the GWB/CBS News brouhaha last fall, but no one got
(physically) hurt. I think that satirizing the Newsweek fiasco that
resulted in lost human lives and casualties is equivalent to satirizing
9/11. I think you owe an apology to your readers.


Hi *****,

I understand how you feel, but if I were to refrain from satirizing blunders because lives were lost, I would have to refrain from satirizing Bush's handling of the Iraq War, wouldn't I?

I think you may have misunderstood the cartoon. I wasn't satirizing Newsweek, I was satirizing the way the Bush administration desperately tried to blame Newsweek for making a mistake that caused deaths in the Middle East. If that isn't a prime example of hypocrisy, I don't know what is. They said Newsweek shouldn't have published an article that was sourced by one person. Well, they started a WAR (that's killed, by some reports, 100 THOUSAND civilians) based bascially on the word of one source: a man the CIA thought was so unreliable that they gave him the code name "Curveball." All the rest of their intelligence was likely fixed around Curveball's claims, to add legitimacy to them. The White House tried to blame Newsweek for our tarnished image in the Middle East, but Newsweek didn't launch a war based on faulty intelligence. Newsweek hasn't gone almost two years without restoring electricity and water to much of Iraq (and Newsweek didn't deny Iraqi businesses the lucrative rebuilding contracts). Newsweek didn't build enormous, permanent military bases in Iraq along an oil pipeline (stupidly giving Iraqis even more reason to think we're there for the oil). Newsweek didn't torture prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. The Bush administration, not Newsweek, did all that, and THAT'S what's destroyed our reputation in the Middle East.

Newsweek made a technical mistake in the way they characterized the story, but let's not forget that the content of the story has been corroborated for the past couple years in other published stories featuring accounts of prisoners in Guantanamo. People in Afghanistan didn't riot because Newsweek wrote a story, they rioted because the Bush administration's actions over the past few years have made it very easy to believe the Newsweek story (and in fact, what Newsweek wrote about is mild compared to, again, the incidents of torture, rape and murder, and all the civilian deaths).

So, while I understand how you feel, I will never apologize for pointing out hypocrisy, especially when it's such a big, steaming example of hypocrisy. I would think you'd ask the Bush administration for an apology, instead, for callously using those 17 Afghani deaths as a way to shift blame from themselves to the Media.