News Flash!

U.S. not center of the world, radicals claim


| March/April 2002


Washington — There were unconfirmed reports yesterday that the United States is not the center of the world.

The White House had no immediate comment on the reports, which set off a firestorm of controversy in the nation’s capital.

Speaking on background, a high-ranking State Department official doubted the reports would turn out to be true. "If that were the case," he said, "don’t you think we would have known about it a long time ago?"

On Capitol Hill, leaders of both parties were quick to rebut the assertion. "That certain news organizations would run with such a poorly sourced and obviously slanted story tells us that the liberal media are still up to their old tricks, despite the current crisis," a GOP lawmaker fumed. A prominent Democrat, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that classified briefings to congressional intelligence panels disproved such claims long ago.

Scholars at leading think tanks were more restrained, and some said there was a certain amount of literal truth to the reports. But they pointed out that while the claim might be accurate in a narrow sense, it was taken out of context and could damage national unity at a time when the United States could ill afford such a disruption.



The claim evidently originated in a piece by a Lebanese journalist in a Beirut magazine. It was picked up by a pair of left-leaning daily newspapers in London. From there, the story quickly made its way across the Atlantic via the Internet.

"It shows how much we need seasoned, professional gatekeepers to separate the journalistic wheat from the chaff before it gains wide attention," remarked the managing editor of a major U.S. television network news program. "This is the kind of stuff you see on ideologically driven Web sites, but that hardly means it belongs on the evening news." A newsmagazine editor agreed, calling the reports "the worst kind of geographical correctness."














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