On last night’s "News Hour" on PBS, reporter Jeffrey Brown conducted a segment on media bias as it pertains to the coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. As his guests, Brown talked with Timothy McNulty, public editor of the Chicago Tribune, Andrew Kohut, President of the Pew Research Center, and Lee Ross, professor of social psychology at Stanford University. Surprisingly, not a media critic among them. The panel attempted to portray the media as fair, pointing to a Pew Poll that showed that 61% of Americans believed the media coverage of the Middle East was fair. But the PBS newscast is selective in publicizing Pew polls. PBS did not report the new Pew Center finding, as reported by Brent Baker in the August 9, 2006 Cyber Alert:
Editors' note: This post is the beginning of a new NB feature, the weekly recap, a way of summarizing some of the hottest and most-read postings for the week.
It has been quite a diverse week in bias. Newsbusters Executive Editor Matthew Sheffield noted that a popular cartoonist took a racist swipe at Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, portraying him as the slave of colleague Antonin Scalia.
The MRC's Tim Graham covered every aspect of "The Washington Post" and their effort to sink Senator George Allen with "Macaca-gate." You can read more here and here. And for a theory about their excessive coverage, click here.
Regarding the war on terror, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann wondered if the recent arrests in London were timed for political reasons.
Have you heard the news of the latest celebrity political pronouncement?
For those living in a cave, Bernie Mac, Nicole Kidman, Michael Douglas, Danny De Vito, Bruce Willis, and a host of other celebs recently signed an issue ad taking a stand…against terrorism.
Didn't hear about it? That's no surprise. According to Nexis, not a single American news organization other than Fox News Channel has covered it.
Say what you will about celebs "shutting up and singing," but the fact that this isn't getting nearly the coverage given to anti-Bush and anti-American rants of lesser lights like the Dixie Chicks or Michael Moore is a yet another nail in the coffin that the media in this country is sorely lacking in political diversity. (Full text and signers here.)
Sabrina Tavernise reports from a village in Lebanon for Friday's "A Girl's Life Bound Close To Hezbollah," and honors the mantra of the terrorist group as a "social services network," just like her colleague John Kifner did on Wednesday -- and again, without using the word "terrorism."
"Israel's goal of uprooting Hezbollah from southern Lebanon has frequently been questioned by critics who say the group is deeply woven into society and cannot simply be cut out. An afternoon with the Fadlallah family in this southern Lebanese village shows that the group not only is part of society, but also helps form the shape of life itself.
Hezbollah has pledged that its fighters south of the Litani will disarm.
Not only is that utterly untrue, one can check thousands of wire stories to confirm the obviously false nature of the statement; though Hezbollah might want the world to believe it. Below is only one example. Pick one for yourself ... and consider informing CNN while you're at it. Evidently their web editors haven't read around very much regarding current events in the Middle East.
One quick question: Is it appropriate for photographers who are members of a group called Artists Against the War (or translated via google) to be sent into war zones to document the events as they transpire? And, even if Mr. Qusini were not a member of this group, would his objectivity still be called into question by his association with them?
I mean, can we expect someone of that nature to be non-partial in their coverage of events?
Can we trust that they'd be able to tell us the truth about something they're wholly opposed to?
I'd certainly like to hear what you think, whether you're an interested observer, or are a wire photographer. Do memberships in groups like this affect the coverage you would expect from current events?
Look at any of the casualty figures coming out of Lebanon in the
world's major media organizations, and you'll see something very close
The Lebanese death toll, meanwhile, rose to 842 when rescue workers
pulled 32 bodies from the rubble in the southern town of Srifa, target
of some of Israel's heaviest bombardment in the 34-day conflict. The
figure was assembled from reports by security and police officials,
doctors and civil defense workers, morgue attendants as well as the
The Israeli toll was 157, including 118 soldiers, according to its military and government.
What is missing from this death toll (which CBS News has now quietly
removed from this web report) are the casualties sustained by
Yes, I'm getting just as tired of this kind of stuff as you are (my bold):
Lebanese civil defense volunteers unload a coffin from a refrigerator
outside the Hakoomy hospital in port city of Tyre, southern Lebanon,
Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006. At least 842 people were killed in Lebanon during the 34-day campaign, most of them civilians. Israel suffered 157 dead _ including 118 soldiers.(AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
According to the Associated Press "most" (by definition more than
half; at least 421) of those who died were civilians. Considering AP's
recent track record in Lebanon, I'm disinclined to believe their claim.
Their vague figures run in opposition to what we see here from Strategy Page:
On the ground, Hizbollah lost nearly 600 of its own personnel, and billions of dollars worth of assets and weapons.
If the Hezbollah deaths cited by StrategyPage and Ynet
are correct and the AP's overall casualty count is close to accurate,
then more than 60% of those killed were Hezbollah fighters, even as
Hezbollah attempted to hide behind old women and children.
On Wednesday's Countdown show, while reporting on a recent Zogby poll which found that more Americans can name two of Snow White's dwarves than can name two of America's Supreme Court justices, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took the opportunity to joke that Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are "Dopey and Grumpy." The Countdown host also took a shot at President Bush by bringing up Bush's failure to name world leaders in a pop quiz during an interview with Boston TV journalist Andy Hiller in November 1999, and suggested to comedian Mo Rocca that Bush's lack of knowledge is to blame for "current world affairs." Olbermann: "Can you think of any consequences at all that could have stemmed from that candidate's level of knowledge? Is that being reflected at all in the current world affairs?" (Transcript follows)
Libanoscopie, a Lebanese Christian website, quotes a military expert to dismiss Hezbollah's claims of victory over Israel (this is the site that accused Hizballah of putting handicapped children in the building at Qana, then drawing Israeli fire by firing rockets from the roof).
The site is published in French. I've translated below:
Hezbollah's Fictional Victory in Lebanon
After 34 days of fighting, Hezbollah's secretary general [Hasan Nasrallah] is claiming victory, his supporters strolling to their hearts' content on the still smoking ruins of what were, a month ago, a hamlet, a village, a city; now a district where multi-story buildings have been reduced to powder, devastated by a wind that destroyed the major part of its existence.
"Hezbollah’s reputation as an efficient grass-roots social service network -- as opposed to the Lebanese government, regarded by many here as sleek men in suits doing well -- was in evidence everywhere. Young men with walkie-talkies and clipboards were in the battered Shiite neighborhoods on the southern edge of Bint Jbail, taking notes on the extent of the damage."
I just ran across an interesting photograph on the AP wire. It would appear that this is a photograph of a Pakistani protest in support of Hezbullah and Hamas (and most likely, therefore, a protest against Israel and the United States).
There is something strange about the photograph, though—notice the highlighted poster, prominently displaying what appears to be a dead child. Where did this photograph come from? It doesn't appear to match any of the civilians killed in combat so far, or at least, it doesn't match any that have come across the wires.
Are there any Arabic specialists out there able to enlighten us on what the text to the right of the picture says? Is this a poster which claims to be the result of an "evil Zionist" carpet-bombing?
We're left to guess, unfortunately.
Our photographer doesn't seem to keen on informing us about the contents of the posters, other than a blanket statement describing the protest exactly as I did above. If anyone else has any information about this photograph or poster, be sure to let me know about it.
Caption: Women activists of a Pakistani religious party chant slogans during a rally to show their support with Hezbollah and Hamas, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006 in Karachi, Pakistan. The protestors also condemned what they see as U.S. and Israeli aggression. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
David needs the umbrella to complete his Neville Chamberlain impersonation. In an Op Ed in today's Washington Post David Ignatius applauds the disastrous UN-brokered ceasefire:
The Lebanon war was damaging for Israel, the United States and, most of all, Lebanon itself. But it may have taught everyone a lesson that will be immensely important to the future of the Middle East: The solutions to the big problems that afflict the region are not military but political.
Meanwhile, the same edition of the Post reports Hezbollah's continued refusal to disarm. It's painfully obvious that Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon without destroying Hezbollah will mean even greater suffering and bloodshed when the West finally decides to deal with the problem.
Thanks to some intrepid digging from commenters Lancelot and Harris at EU Referendum, another video of the events at Qana has been found. This is one that I have never seen before and really shows what was going on that day. It is truly a must see for anyone that believes that the photos at Qana were staged. It completely debunks the "our photographers do not set up photos" and "the rescuers were not holding up the children for photos" claims.
Believe it or not, it is a link from Wikipedia of all places. Here's the direct link to the video. If you can't the video to load through the direct link, go to Wikipedia and scroll down to External Links (Resources) and click on the first video listed. The video is approx 13 minutes long and does have a good bit of anchorperson commentary in Arabic. Also be advised that some of the images are graphic...
Pay close attention to this footage...
At 0:53 there is new footage of Mr. Green Helmet serving as director of the scene. He's standing over some victims and gesturing to someone off camera. One thing is for sure - he is in NO HURRY in this footage.
At 8:29 we see Mr. Green Helmet taking off for his run with the little girl in the multicolored pants. What makes this interesting is Mr. Green Helmet is standing still with the child, then turns and starts off at a quick pace. As Mr. GH turns, a cameraman crosses behind him. It is obvious that Mr. GH was posing with the child for the cameraman prior to his "run".
Caption: The body of a man lays on a road in southern Lebanon... shortly after gunfire was heard in the area. Israel began slowly pulling forces out ... the declared ceasefire has already been tested by various skirmishes between combative forces. (AP Photo/Riza Ozel, Anatolia)
When is a man considered something more than a man? It would seem that the bar is set infinitely high when dealing with Hezbullah, as I've tried to illustrate previously.
This photograph offers another prime example: The caption mentions nothing about the body lying next to the car, other than identifying it as a "body of a man."
Does the photographer bother to note that the "body" is wearing camouflage, and carrying what appears to be two AK-47's? Although to a casual observer, this would seem to indicate that the body belongs to a Hezbullah militant, our intrepid photographer doesn't seem interested in pursuing that line of thought... along with any thought of reminding the reader that only one side is really instigating skirmishes.
Many thanks to FR's PajamaTruthMafia for pointing this out!
Yesterday I quipped that I found Gatorade's new energy Drink
"self-Propel," after discovering a series of three pictures by Reuters
photographer Zohra Bensemra. In those photos, a mysteriously mobile
bottle of water appears and disappears beside an elderly injured woman
that Bensemra said was waiting to be rescued, and was made to appear
The moving bottle and other suspicious elements in the photos lead
me to believe that this series of photos, like so many already
discovered coming from Arab Muslim stringers in Lebanon, were quite
The curious composition of Bensemra's photos continued today, as this one was, err, unearthed in Yahoo's Photostream:
"This is an important moment, that the Palestinian resistance must seize. It benefited from [a similar moment] at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa [Intifada], when the West Bank and Gaza spoke the Lebanese language, after they had long been immersed in American and Israeli illusions. And following [the Al-Aqsa Intifada], the incomplete [Israeli] withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was carried out.
What do you know, but it would seem that today, the wires are teeming with photographs of Palestinian "youths" (all men in their 20's, from the looks of it) throwing stones at IDF soldiers. I haven't seen any photographs of Israeli troops yet, but expect to see the standard formulaic shot of a Palestinian "youth" throwing a stone at a heavily-armored Israeli tank. I'd also expect that we won't see any photographs of the terrorists who are doing any of the actual shooting at the Israelis, but we're used to not seeing that by now, right?
According to Reuters photographer Zohra Bensemra, an elderly injured
woman lies injured in the ruins of her house, awaiting rescue as
Let's for a moment try to look past the staging elements that we've become accustomed to searching for over the past weeks.
Ignore for a moment the fact that a wounded elderly woman in a
bombed out building is unlikely to be in the kind of physical condition
needed to drag several pristine sofa pillows through the rubble and
make a bed out of them. Look past the fact that she, in her weakened
condition, has found a nearly spotless black blanket in the fine gray
dust of a bombed out building to cover her legs against the 80 degree
cold. Ignore the conveniently-placed bottled water she somehow found
intact and had for the middle photo only.
President Bush spoke at the State Department this afternoon, and on MSNBC’s "The Most" the graphic on screen was very telling of how the media have covered Hezbollah as it read:
"Breaking News, President Bush: ‘Hezbollah hides behind innocent civilians.’"
It is common knowledge that one of the tactics used by terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, is to hide among civilian populations in order to either reduce the risk of reprisal or to ensure that if there are repercussions from their attacks, that innocent civilians are killed as well. This is a deplorable tactic but hardly breaking news.
"Thousands of people rallied near the White House on Saturday to protest what they described as Israeli aggression in Lebanon and the United States' unwavering support for Israel."
It may not be his normal beat, but Pear proves he has what it takes to cover political stories for the Times -- an apparent deep need to portray any group of Muslims, whether terrorist suspects or anti-war activists, as "diverse": "The diverse crowd included many Arab-Americans and Muslims, college students and families, as well as veterans of prior demonstrations against the war in Iraq."
An Israeli soldier flashes a V for victory sign after receiving orders to stop firing into south Lebanon, along the Israel-Lebanon border, in the early hours. Faced with another Middle East crisis, American Jews have rallied to collect donations for Israel, although some in the community argue that funds should also be sent to war-ravaged Lebanon for aid its reconstruction.(AFP/David Furst)
And on the right, we're treated to:
Lebanese children sit atop a pick up truck as they flash V-signs and wave Hezbollah flags as hundreds of cars with displaced Lebanese returning to southern Lebanon, wait in line to pass the destroyed bridge of Zahrani that was attacked by Israeli warplanes during the month-long operations, south of the port city of Sidon, Monday, Aug. 14, 2006. Thousands of cars flooded Lebanon's bombed out highways heading south within an hour of a U.N. cease-fire taking hold, and Lebanese army troops scrambled to repair roads in time for the deluge of refugees returning home. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Ok. So there's nothing unusual about having a war in which both sides claim victory, and in a conflict that's as long-running as this one, I don't think we can expect anything different. But notice the differences in these photos: The Israelis are portrayed as dark, ominous invaders claiming victory, presumably against a civilian populace.
of the photographer's comment (it appears that Denton's original is
gone, but that another commenter reposted it within his own comment;
scroll down to "Andy Levin Fri Aug 11 09:54:08")
i have been working in lebanon since all this started,
and seeing the behavior of many of the lebanese wire service
photographers has been a bit unsettling. while hajj has garnered a lot
of attention for his doctoring of images digitally, whether guilty or
not, i have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one
case where a group of wire photogs were coreographing the unearthing of
bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to
position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put
in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms. these
photographers have come away with powerful shots, that required no
manipulation digitally, but instead, manipulation on a human level, and
this itself is a bigger ethical problem.
Lebanese civil defense rescuers, try to remove two blanket-wrapped
bodies, found trapped under debris and concrete of the destroyed
buildings, attacked late Monday by Israeli airstrike, in the southern
Beirut suburb of Chiah, Lebanon, Tuesday Aug. 8, 2006. The raid on the
Muslim southern suburb next to a Christian neighborhood killed at least
15 people, police officials said. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
The bodies were found already wrapped in blankets under the debris of the building.
CBS's Mike Wallace spent a half-hour of network air time with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and some of his questions were tough, about Hezbollah violence and Holocaust denial and the Iranian leader's desire to wipe Israel off the map. Most surprisingly, he suggested the Iranians were providing explosives to the Iraqi insurgents (something the American news media doesn't usually highlight), and ended by suggesting there were reports of Iran having 52,000 trained suicide bombers to launch against American and British targets in case they are attacked.
While it was measurably tougher than Dan Rather's embarrassing 2003 sit-down with Saddam Hussein, CBS did air moments of Wallace kissing up to Ahmadinejad. "I couldn't be happier with the privilege of sitting down with the President of Iran," he wallowed at one point, as Ahmadinejad claimed Wallace was getting angry.
Lebanon - Abu Shadi Jradi pulled bodies out of wreckage for hours — two
toddler girls wearing tiny gold earrings, a small boy whose pale blue
pacifier still hung from his neck. Somewhere in the middle, Jradi
slumped beneath a tree and wept.
I addressed the AP's defense of Lebanese Civilian Defense worker Salam Daher previously,
now more information is coming out. It turns out that the author of
that defense, Kathy Gannon is AP's Burea Chief in Iran. It's only
speculation, but I wonder how long she'd be effective in that
assignment if she published something negative about Iran, or Hezbollah.
And now someone is claiming to have witnessed photographers go as far as to re-use dead bodies for photo ops in Lebanon.
In an article that, frankly, surprised me, the Los Angeles Times's Tim Rutten comes down hard on fellow journalists for failing to take the Reutersgate scandal seriously enough. Here, Rutten dismisses Reuters' explanations for why the altered photos were used:
There are, however, two problems here, and they're the reason this controversy shouldn't be allowed to sputter to its inglorious conclusion just yet: One of these has to do with the scope of what strongly appears to be wider fabrication in the photojournalism Reuters and other news agencies are obtaining from their freelancers in Lebanon. The other is the U.S. news media's grudging response to the revelation of Hajj's misconduct and its utter lack of interest in exploring whether his is a unique or representative case.
Then Rutten encourages readers to explore what the bloggers have discovered.
It is hard to overstate the importance of what Little Green Footballs' site operator Charles Johnson learned from a clearly knowledgeable person in the news business, and revealed in a post yesterday morning. Anyone who attempts to understand events in the Middle East but is unaware of what Johnson has exposed is being shortchanged, and very likely misled.
Now Johnson has expanded what began as a "narrow" photojournalism controversy into an expose of how, for decades, the news we receive from the most volatile region in the world has, in exchange for what looks an awful lot like bribery, been twisted and controlled to meet a pro-Arab, pro-terorist, anti-Israel agenda.
An AP article white washes a Lebanese
Civil Defense worker bloggers suspect of disseminating Hezbollah
propaganda. And they quote a colleague who apparently doesn't have any
concerns about sharing information with Hezbollah to back him up. From the article:
Twenty-eight bodies were recovered — more than half of them children.
Interesting, given that said Civil Defense worker evidently told the Lebanese press on July 30th:
The bodies of 37 children were among those recovered from under the rubble of dozens of a building which collapsed after the bombardment, said Salam Daher, the civil defense chief in the region.