THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED:
Today on page A2, the National Post printed a lengthy ''Note to Readers'' with the headline "Our mistake,'' in reference to last Friday's shocking front-page story which claimed that Iran would ''require'' Jews to wear Nazi-era style badges. (SEE UPDATE)The mea culpa, signed by editor-in-chief Doug Kelly, reads, in part:
It is now clear the story is not true. Given the seriousness of the error, I felt it necessary to explain to our readers how this happened.
The story of the alleged badge law first came to us in the form of a column by Amir Taheri. Mr. Taheri, an Iranian author and journalist, has written widely on Iran for many major publications. In his column, Mr. Taheri wrote at length about the new law, the main purpose of which is to establish an appropriate dress code for Muslims. Mr. Taheri went on to say that under the law, "Religious minorities would have their own colour schemes. They will also have to wear special insignia, known as zonnar, to indicate their non-Islamic faith."
This extraordinary allegation caught our attention, of course. The idea that Iran might impose such a law did not seem out of the question given that its President has denied the Holocaust and threatened to "wipe Israel off the map." We tried to contact Mr. Taheri, but he was in transit and unreachable.
From there, Kelly tracks the trajectory of how Taheri's column ended up being spun into the horrifying Holocaust-type story on the front page. He concludes with:
We acknowledge that on this story, we did not exercise sufficient caution and skepticism, and we did not check with enough sources. We should have pushed the sources we did have for more corroboration of the information they were giving us. That is not to say that we ignored basic journalistic practices or that we rushed this story into print with no thought as to the consequences. But given the seriousness of the allegations, more was required.
We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused not just National Post readers, but the broader public who read the story. We take this incident very seriously, and we are examining our procedures to try to ensure such an error does not happen again.
Coupled with a front-page semi-retraction in Saturday's Post, it's fair to say that the paper acted as swiftly as it could to rectify what was a serious error, one with potentially catastrophic consequences. It did much better than did the New York Times did, say, with its Judith Miller/WMDs horsedip.
But have all the right wingdings accepted the fact that the story isn't true? What do you think?
Yes, many have climbed down. But not all. Their reasoning? It's fake but accurate, as the story goes. Well, knowing Iran, and its president's propensity to make hateful comments against Israel and all, what do you think? Here's a sample, one which ignores the fact that I corrected my errors while not correcting their own:
What I find most fascinating is why the Left isn't jumping all over this in defense of women and minorities in Iran!
The zonnar mark for dhimmis ... was used in Iran until 1908. That the Council of Guardians MAY consider its reinstatement is hardly an odd notion. Even if it is sabotaged by Taheri's report, the bigger issue still hasn't been addressed by the Left.
I should emphasize that, while delusions such as this are not the responsibility of the National Post, it sure added fuel to what threatens to become a raging fire.
The newspapers that so far have run the story are similarly identified with a hard line against Tehran. The National Post, which was bought by CanWest Global Communications from Conrad Black, a close associate of Perle's, is controlled by David and Leonard Asper, who have accused the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation of being anti-Israel, according to Marsha Cohen of Florida International University, who has closely followed the badges story.
Similarly, the (New York) Sun has consistently taken positions consistent with the right-wing Likud Party in Israel on Middle East issues, while Murdoch owns the strongly pro-Israel Weekly Standard and Fox News, in addition to the New York Post.
"I think the way these stories played – particularly the references to the Holocaust – was designed to arouse and play upon concerns and accusations that Ahmadinejad is another Hitler who needs to be dealt with accordingly," noted Cohen, who added that the Iranian president's questioning of the Holocaust and aggressive statements about Israel have made such stories more credible.
Meanwhile, AntiWar's Justin Raimundo goes much further, connecting the dots between this and the -- cue the ominous music -- pro-Israel lobby.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in Washington Tuesday, presumably to issue the Bush administration its marching orders. On this sojourn, he is hitting all the right notes – Iran, which is "close to atomic bomb know-how," is "like Hitler," and poses a threat not just to Israel but "to Western civilization." This is a change in tactics from last time around, when the Israelis were careful to keep a low profile on the question of invading Iraq: emboldened by success, they have sent the Israeli prime minister himself to make the case for war. And the Amen Corner is taking up the cause with alacrity, loudly beating their tom-toms and smearing anyone who – like Professor Juan Cole – dares to expose their tactics of mass deception.
Iran is years away from acquiring nuclear weapons and has formally stated that its intentions are peaceful. The Israelis think they have reason to doubt the Iranians' motives, and are scared to death – or so they claim.
Oh what a tangled web they weave.
Another hat tip to Maz.
* UPPITY DATE: It has been pointed out to me that, to read the Post's retraction online, you need to go beyond the front page and then, you require a paid subscription.
Just one of those things that make me go hmmmmmmmmmmm.