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XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX TUE MAY 17, 2005 11:01:28 ET XXXXX
NEWSWEEK ISIKOFF TOLD RESIGNATION WOULD NOT BE ACCEPTED
NEWSWEEK's top executives and editors are standing firm behind reporter Michael Isikoff after the magazine retracted his story that U.S. investigators found evidence interrogators at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Quran.
"Mike was told he would not be sacrificed, we are standing behind him 100%," a top magazine source told the DRUDGE REPORT. "We do not, I repeat, do not let this White House, any White House, make our staff decisions for us."
The top NEWSWEEK executive claims an emotional Isikoff offered to resign from the magazine over the weekend, in a gesture to cool off the international situation.
Isikoff's Guantanamo article was blamed for inciting riots in the Muslim world, where at least 17 people were killed in the ensuing violence.
White House staffers suspect Isikoff's source for the Quran report was from congress, not from the administration.
Isikoff said in a published interview Tuesday morning: "Whenever something like this happens, you've got to take stock and review what you did - how the story was handled. The big point that leaps out is the cultural one. Neither NEWSWEEK nor the Pentagon foresaw that a reference to the desecration of the Koran was going to create the kind of response that it did. The Pentagon saw the item before it ran, and then they didn't move us off it for 11 days afterward. They were as caught off guard by the furor as we were. We obviously blame ourselves for not understanding the potential ramifications."
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said a retraction was only "a good first step" and said NEWSWEEK should try to set the record straight by "clearly explaining what happened and how they got it wrong, particularly to the Muslim world, and pointing out the policies and practices of our military."
Daniel Klaidman, NEWSWEEK's Washington bureau chief, said Tuesday in an interview on CBS that the magazine will "continue to look at how we put together this story, learn from mistakes that we've made and make improvements that are appropriate as we go along."
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