Howie reports : Whitaker said that a senior Pentagon official, for reasons that "are still a little mysterious to us," had declined to comment after Newsweek correspondent John Barry showed him a draft before the item was published and asked whether it was accurate, adding that the magazine would have held off had military spokesmen made such a request. Whitaker said Pentagon officials raised no objection to the story for a week after it was published, until it was translated by some Arab media outlets and led to the rioting.
The item was principally reported by Michael Isikoff, Newsweek's veteran investigative reporter. "Obviously we all feel horrible about what flowed from this, but it's important to remember there was absolutely no lapse in journalistic standards here," he said. "We relied on sources we had every reason to trust and gave the Pentagon ample opportunity to comment. . . . We're going to continue to investigate what remains a very murky situation."
Why didn't the Pentagon raise a red flag? Why didn't they say hold on while we check those facts? Newsweek didn't blind side the Pentagon. They acted in good faith by giving the Pentagon access before they ran the story. The first reported incident made it seem like they printed the story with no notification. That's not the case. Didn't the "senior" Pentagon official have an idea what might happen? This doesn't excuse Newsweek, but the mayhem that ensued could have been averted.