Quick Take: Reuters' initial reaction to the UK airliner bomb plot arrests was to tie it to Tony Blair and Israel's actions in Lebanon. A later story, perhaps in response to blog criticism of the original, added the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as "reasons." Nowhere is the idea that Islamic Jihadism, independent of day-to-day events in the Middle East, is involved. More important, and worse -- Articles containing speculation gone wild are allowed to go out disguised as "objective" news pieces.
Here, from The Washington Post at 2:13 AM (article saved to my hard drive to guard against the "memory-hole effect) are three paragraphs from a Reuters story on the UK airliner bomb plot arrests (paras 9, 10, and 11):
Following the arrests, security at all British airports was increased and additional security measures put in place for all flights.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under strong criticism at home and abroad for following the U.S. lead and refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.
The security alert comes 13 months after four Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport network on July 7 last year.
In a special bonus feature in our ongoing “Friday Night Fights” segment, a real barnburner took place Wednesday evening on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” In the left corner, Air America radio personality Randi Rhodes. In the right corner, nationally syndicated radio host Neal Boortz (hat tip to Ms Underestimated with extraordinary video to follow).
As fight lovers would expect, this was a classic battle between the conservative approach to boxing with the more progressive tactics of an extreme southpaw. This was evidenced right after the opening bell, as Boortz jabbed with why Israel has to defend itself:
That truth is the first casualty of war has been borne home by the proliferating 'fauxtography' scandal of photographs of the current Middle East crisis doctored or staged so as to portray Israel in the worst possible light. At this point, can we look at any image from the area without a good dose of doubt?
Take this morning's report on the Today show. NBC's Richard Engel, in Tyre, Lebanon, reported that:
"The fighting has made humanitarian relief efforts almost impossible. Israel has cut roads and attacked vehicles, isolating Hezbollah and everyone else."
This was followed by a clip of the unidentified individual pictured here. Judging by his words and accent, he might have been a Red Cross official. He asserted:
"Lots of people have died because they just couldn't make it to a hospital in time. Ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross were hit right in the middle of the roof of the car. The Red Cross stands for protection and neutrality. This should not have happened."
There is a noteworthy MSM tendency to downplay the gravity of terrorist acts by suggesting that they are local, home-grown incidents rather than forming part of international conspiracies. A recent example was the MSM's treatment of the Seattle Jewish center shootings in which a Muslim-American killed one woman and injured several others.
To his credit, NBC terrorism expert Roger Cressey wouldn't let Matt Lauer sing that song when he tried it on this morning's Today show in connection with the just-disclosed plot to blow up in mid-Atlantic flights originating in the UK.
Bloggers—and to a much lesser extent some media outlets—have paid
considerable attention to specific examples of media manipulation in
the war being fought between Hezbollah and the IDF in Lebanon and
Israel, but we seem be under-covering the overall framing of the
media's coverage, particularly when it comes to the subject matter
chosen for coverage.
This comes into sharp relief when contrasted against the coverage
we've become used to from the war in Iraq, particularly as it relates
to the media coverage allowed and provided by two different
insurgencies in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraq's predominately Sunni
In Iraq, we’ve become somewhat used to embedded reporters reporting
from both sides of the conflict with a fairly wide latitude to operate.
Stringers, both print media and photographers, have occasionally
embedded within the insurgency, providing coverage from ambushes and
sniper's nests alike. The insurgents themselves often seem to be media
hungry, filming operations themselves and often releasing the tapes to
the media or producing them on DVDs for public consumption in Iraq and
throughout the Middle East.
By and large, the vast majority of video reporting allowed and
encouraged by the Iraqi insurgency is combat-related. IED ambushes are
particularly popular, often released as montages set to Islamist music
as propaganda videos. The Iraqi insurgents have often seemed intent on
portraying themselves as rebel forces actively waging a war for the
people, whether or not the people would always agree.
Hezbollah, however, seems to be fighting a different kind of media war.
Tucker Carlson stopped short of saying that some of his best friends are Jewish. But he did let us know that "I love Israel, I think it's a wonderful place, I support it completely, I support it instinctively."
That was just before he declared that "I think this war helps Hezbollah. I think it's bad for Israel, bad for the United States. I think you can love Israel and believe this war is a disaster."
And it was just afterhe criticized President Bush for being too pro-Israel.
Carlson turned to Bill Press, his guest on this afternoon's Tucker show on MSNBC, observing:
"You never hear Democrats point out that Bush is not even-handed in the Middle East. You almost never hear anybody criticize the President for taking the side of Israel to the extent that he alienates the Arab world completely. Why doesn't anybody ever mention that?"
The former chairman of the California Dem party gave a response suggesting he might be a proud graduate of the Pat Buchanan 'Amen Corner' School of Foreign Policy:
Today is primary day in Connecticut, one in which liberals on the fringe left hope will be Senator Joe Lieberman’s day of reckoning. On Tuesday’s "Early Show" on CBS, correspondent Trish Regan previewed this race, and provided her insight on how Joe Lieberman has fallen from three term incumbent and former Democratic vice Presidential Candidate to now underdog in this race:
Trish Regan: "Ned Lamont has used this now infamous kiss to his advantage on campaign buttons and television ads, suggesting Lieberman is just too cozy with the president."
Infamous is a strong word. Perhaps Lieberman being embraced by President Bush at the 2005 State of the Union Address may be infamous to the far left, but I highly doubt mainstream America views two former rivals of differing political parties hugging as an infamous act.
It's unquestionable that something bad happened in Qana, Lebanon recently. Was it a massacre of innocent civilians, collateral damage, or a Hezbollah set-up?
It's starting to seem as though it was a combination of all three. The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley, Aziz P, and Ace are some of the bloggers beginning to raise this point. I've excerpted some of their arguments below. If you see any counter-arguments, post them as a comment or email them to me so I can include all sides.
UPDATE 14:25. Dan Riehl theorizes on how Hezbollah might have staged the casualties. Read on past the jump for an excerpt.
UPDATE 14:48. Power Line argues further that Arab stringers for MSM organizations are staging photos.
UPDATE 15:17. Ace has more possibly staged pix, including a mannequin improbably standing upright sporting a wedding dress.
Bring back Katie! OK, perhaps that's not the solution, but the sycophantish display that Ann Curry put on for Queen Noor and her anti-Israel/pro-Hezbollah views was enough to make you pound the TV screen in frustration.
Noor is a Princeton-educated Arab-American who is the widow of the late King Hussein of Jordan. Curry's opening set the tone. Rather than asking a probing question, Ann invited Noor to lecture America: "what insights might you offer America about what Hezbollah wants and what it's willing to do to get it?"
Noor blamed the Jews and lauded Hezbollah: "Hezbollah was created as was Hamas in the Palestinian territories during a period of Israeli occupation which is on-going in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. Hezbollah was largely responsible and credited by the Lebanese for having creating the pressure for having Israel withdraw from Lebanese territory."
Curry took Noor's notion a grotesque step further: "So it's almost seen as a savior."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened his August 7 Countdown show fretting about President Bush's unwillingness to delay his vacation, in contrast with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, during the current fighting in the Middle East, mocking Bush during the teaser by twice uttering the words: "He's on vacation." He even drew a negative parallel from history as he recounted that the Nazi invasion of Europe received a boost while infamous British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain vacationed, as the Countdown host then similarly uttered the words, "Chamberlain was on vacation," to link him to Bush. Olbermann, who has never compared the appeasement-minded Chamberlain to anti-war liberals, then further contrasted Bush with current Prime Minister Blair's decision to cancel his own vacation: "His close ally, Tony Blair, avoided the direct Chamberlain comparison and cancelled his own time off because of the events in the Middle East." Referring to Condoleezza Rice's handling of Middle East negotiations, Olbermann contended that she was "picking up the pieces of the President's foreign policy." (Transcript follows)
The following certainly qualifies as one of the most absurd statements that I’ve heard from a member of the media lately, and as someone that often spends 18 hours a day watching and reading press reports, that’s saying something (hat tip to Hot Air with video available here).
On Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN, the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks actually stated with a straight face that Israel is intentionally not destroying all of Hezbollah’s rockets so that some can continue to rain down on Israel killing innocent civilians. This, in Ricks’ view, “helps you with the moral high ground problem, because you know your operations in Lebanon are going to be killing civilians as well.” I kid you not.
Host Howard Kurtz was rather shocked by Ricks’ assertion, and responded almost incredulously:
It’s not just the doctored photos. Apart from the most recent travesty of journalistic ethics, it's worth recalling how Reuters has also tilted its words in favor of those who promote terror and misery around the world.
For example, Iraqis compelled to vote for Saddam Hussein back in 2002 were “defiant” and in a “festive mood,” while Saddam’s capture by U.S. forces a year later was marked by “resentment...of life under U.S. occupation.”
For Reuters’ editors, the first anniversary of 9/11 was a reminder that “human rights around the world” have been a “casualty” of the war on terror, while the second anniversary was a time to point out how “sympathy [for America] soured” as the U.S. actually fought back against the forces of darkness.
Disgraced Reuters freelance photographer Adnan Hajj was dismissed by the wire service for altering a photograph of a Lebanese skyline to make the damage caused by Israel look worse (big hat tip to Charles Johnston at Little Green Footballs, who first uncovered the fake photo). More photos by Hajj are being scrutinized, and at least one other photo has been proven to have been digitally altered.
In the ongoing investigation of a Lebanese photographer that has been caught with his hand in the Photoshop jar as reported by NewsBusters here and here, Reuters has made the following announcement:
Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.
Global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi called the measure precautionary but said the fact that two of the images by photographer Adnan Hajj had been manipulated undermined trust in his entire body of work.
Apparently, Reuters is taking this very seriously:
This one is pretty amazing (hat tip to Drudge). At 8:29AM ET Monday, Reuters reported that 40 people were killed in a Lebanese village by Israeli air strikes. Less than three hours later, the Associated Press reported that the number of casualties had been dropped to one. Here’s the first report:
"An hour ago, a horrific massacre took place in Houla village as a result of the intentional Israeli bombardment that resulted in more than 40 martyrs," Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told an emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting in Beirut.
Residents of Houla said they feared up to 60 people, including many children, had been killed. They said most of the people were shepherds who had refused to flee the fighting.
The hot story in the blog world today is the story of Adnan Hajj, a photographer for the Reuters news service who has been exposed as faking shots in his work, most famously, a photograph of a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon in which he inserted fake smoke into the picture to make it look as though Israel was targeting civilians.
Use this thread to post relevant information about the story from blogs and elsewhere. Note to NB contribs: Email me if you want to get in on editing this thread so you won't have to post updates as comments.
Fox News’s Neal Gabler was on quite a roll on Saturday's "Fox News Watch." Apart from taking on Mel Gibson as reported by NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein, he also went after conservative columnist Michelle Malkin referring to her as an "opinion monger" (video to follow).
The discussion centered on how the media have been reporting on the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict, and, in particular, the event in Qana. Gabler, almost foaming at the mouth, went on quite a rant which included going after a Fox News contributor. Pay particular attention to Gabler's intentionally exaggerated display of disgust as he said Malkin's name:
UPDATE: As commenter "Sua Sponte 75" noted, Reuters has issued a "Picture Kill Advisory" (link is to Michelle Malkin, as original PKA appears to have been moved) and has admitted altering the photo. Drudge is currently linking to the story at the very top of his page. To the extent that an organization like Reuters cares about such things, it appears that it has been humiliated.
Commenter "Ten7s" asks a reasonable question -- "Makes me wonder how much deft photo manipulation gets printed in the media." Indeed. _________________________________
Every once in a while you want to tell yourself that media bias is accidental and not deliberate, a sort of "they can't help themselves" phenomenon.
This is NOT one of those times.
Here is a photo published by Reuters that is captioned, "Smoke billows from burning buildings destroyed during an overnight Israeli air raid on Beirut's suburbs August 5, 2006. Many buildings were flattened during the attack. (Adnan Hajj/Reuters)":
Numerous bloggers and others have pointed out that the image has been heavily photoshopped. Some of them include:
The New York Times has done it again. In their latest soft selling of the terror organization, Hezbullah, The Times is revealing the kinder, gentler side of the outlaw group to help us all better understand how wonderful they really are. Even the title almost seems nice...
But wait! Apparently The New York Times thought even that title was too harsh. They later changed the name of the piece to "Charity Wins Deep Loyalty for Hezbollah". Best to get that nasty "gun" word out of there, I suppose. Why, we can't expect people in America to come to love Hezbullah like the TImes does if people think they are somehow connected to guns after all!
At CNN, the moral relativism never ends. In the wake of shootings by a Muslim at a Seattle Jewish center that left one person dead and others injured, CNN somehow managed to equate the fears of American Jews that there could be other such incidents . . . with the fears of American supporters of Hezbollah.
The focus of the 'Safe at Home?' segment narrated by CNN's Kelli Arena on today's Saturday Morning show was indeed the aftermath of that Seattle shooting, and how Jewish groups around the country are expressing fears and taking precautions.
But you could almost hear the CNN producer's gears grinding: "Wait! We can't have a segment that focuses exclusively on Jewish fears. Quick: get me some balance!" What CNN came up with was an interview with Rami Nuseir, an Arab-American activist.
CNN's Arena started the relativistic slide by claiming that the FBI's program of reaching out to Arab-American leaders for help in identifying potential threats has 'backfired': "Arab-Americans feel as though they are constantly under suspicion."
If the Israeli "massacre" at Qana turns out to be yet another fraud, you can count on the media to quietly let the story slip away, a contrast from the media fireworks that were present when the story was announced. A simple "we were wrong" is is much more embarrassing than hoping everyone will forget the original hype.
As the world watches events unfold in the Middle East from the comfort of their living rooms, evidence is mounting that Hezbollah is using the media in a fashion that would make Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels extremely proud. Such an assertion has far reaching implications to be sure, as it points an accusatory finger at the behavior of the American press as well.
Supporting this contention is a paper written in 1948 by Yale psychology professor Leonard W. Doob entitled “Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda.” In it, Doob enunciated the famed Nazi’s nineteen-point plan for the effective use of the media to advance Germany’s goals.
Fifty-eight years later, a Haaretz article published Thursday outlined the power of the Hezbollah propaganda machine. So coordinated are these efforts that it is easy to imagine the terrorist organization using Goebbels’ principles as a virtual playbook while it molds events and news reports to impact international opinion. The article began:
For Fox News fans who like Alan Colmes almost as much as they like Eleanor Clift or Helen Thomas, Wednesday night’s “Hannity and Colmes” was a blessed event (hat tip to Expose the Left with a video link to follow).
In a special Wednesday night edition of our ongoing “Friday Night Fights” series, in the left corner, Alan “I’m only here to disagree with everything my more intelligent partner says” Colmes. In the right corner, Mark “The Great One” Levin. Let’s get ready to rrrrrrrummmmmbbbble.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz did a report Thursday (hat tip to Drudge) on the Hezbollah propaganda machine. As one reads the revelations about how this terrorist group uses the media to affect opinion in Lebanon, Israel, and across the globe, it is difficult not to wonder what impact similar efforts by liberal press representatives in America is having on the war in Iraq as well as the war on terrorism.
If Hezbollah-run media are to be believed, then 35 Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed or wounded in Aita Shaab, militants downed an Israeli helicopter and destroyed a house in which IDF soldiers were hiding, and IDF troops are always hit in the back because they are running away.
Appearing on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor Wednesday, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather conceded there's a "problem" with America's media in its treatment of Hezbollah and Israel with "moral equivalence," even including himself as part of the problem. As host Bill O'Reilly brought up the topic, stating his criticism that "Some networks give moral equivalency to Hezbollah in the reporting of this war," Rather voiced agreement and went on to acknowledge the media's reluctance to label Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization." Rather: "It's a problem that those of us in journalism have been reluctant to address -- I do not exclude myself from this criticism -- reluctant to address that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. It's committed to the destruction of Israel. It isn't committed to trying to just gain territory. It's committed to its destruction." (Transcript follows)
The Financial Times, as posted by MSNBC.com, has unilaterally promoted Hezbollah to a state and re-introduced Syria into Lebanese affairs. On a piece describing the ongoing cease-fire negotiations at the UN, FT said this:
Any agreement between Washington and Paris, as well as London, would
also need approval from other Security Council members such as Russia,
buy-in from Israel, Lebanon and Hizbollah, and the acquiescence of
Hizbollah is a militia. It's not a state, it's not treated like a state, and it doesn't have negotiating power. I suppose ever since the UN let Arafat carry a pistol onto the floor of the General Assembly, and created a special status for the PLO, this line - like much of the UN's vision - has been a little blurry. Still, when there's an existing resolution, 1559, calling for the dismantlement of this militia, saying that a Security Council resolution has to go to Bint Jubeil or Baalbek for approval is making some rather astonishing leaps.
The Jerusalem Post reports today that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is investigating arguments, first raised by bloggers, that Hamas may have staged the alleged "atrocity" that occurred when building collapsed in the Lebanese city of Qana.
As reported by NewsBusters and elsewhere, significant doubts are being raised as to whether the building's collapse was caused by Israeli bombs or was deliberately destroyed by Hamas to gin up anti-Israeli sentiment.
Mentioned prominently in the article is NewsBuster Bob Owens's blog, Confederate Yankee, which in the fine MSM tradition of accuracy, is called "Conservative Yankee" by the Post. (See Bob's response post here.)
An excerpt from the JP article is after the jump...
A wave of New Testament fever seems to be gripping liberal media types. As reported here, during a recent Good Morning America, Chris Cuomo stated that the Gospel of John identifies Qana as the place where Jesus turned water into wine. Who would have imagined that Adam Shatz - of the far-left Nation magazine - would be a New Testament maven? But, saints alive, he leads his op-ed in today's LA Times with the very same story.
What could account for this new-found interest in the New Testament? You don't suppose it could have anything to do with a desire to add fuel to the anti-Israel fire in the wake of its bombing of Qana, do you?