I first raised the question of a possible relationship between the two journalists who corroborated each others accounts of an Israeli drone attack on a civilian convoy fleeing Marjayoun in south Lebanon here. In separatestories for their respective new organizations the brothers, Lotfallah (AP) and Karamallah Daher (Reuters), corroborated each others' accounts of the attack, but neither Reuters nor AP mentioned that they are related, much less twin brothers.
Covering a speech by Lebanese political leader Saad Hariri, son of Rafik Hariri, whose assassination launched the Cedar Revolution resulting in the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon, the Guardian Unlimited goes so far as to list Israel first as a target of Hariri's condemnation. Their story highlights Hariri's words about Israel, placing them on a par with his attack on Syria:
Hariri's son condemns Israel and Syria The son of Lebanon's assassinated former prime minister and leader of the largest faction in the Lebanese parliament today condemned the involvement of both Israel and Syria in the country's month-long war.
The Guardian finally mentions, in the eleventh paragraph, that Hariri's criticism of Israel was in response to a speech by Syrian leader Bashar Assad, in which he accused anti-Syrian factions of aligning themselves with Israel.
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.
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)
Ricks, The Washington Post’s Pentagon
correspondent, appeared on the August 14 edition of "The Daily
Show." Ricks, the author of the caustic new book "Fiasco:
The American Military Adventure in Iraq," told host
Jon Stewart that journalists report the situation in Iraq far too
"I actually think the media probably has been too easy on the
situation. I think it’s probably worse then the media says
Stewart helpfully demonstrated the media’s hopeful
tone when he replied, "You maybe believe this to be, maybe
the greatest debacle in the history of American foreign policy?" As
the MRC’s Tim Graham previously wondered,
shouldn’t Washington Post readers
question if Ricks’s daily coverage of Iraq will be colored by
extremely negative outlook? In the segment, which aired at 11:20PM, he
stated the following about Fiasco’s
Over the last five years, the resurgent radical left has found empowerment in the Democratic Party through what the political scribes antiseptically call the "Internet grass roots." When hawkish Sen. Joe Lieberman lost by four points in the Democratic primary in Connecticut to ultraliberal millionaire Ned Lamont, the media credited this hard left with the upset. In truth, however, the liberal media themselves were a major part of the equation.
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.
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.
From little green footballs; a person identifying himself as freelance photographer Bryan Denton claims to have witnessed the exhumation of bodies for use in staged photographs. The photographer made the claim in the photographer's web forum, Lightstalkers; excerpt of post [emphasis added]:
...one case where a group of wire photogs were choreographing 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.
The poster was challenged by other posters in the forum, but refused to back off from the original allegation and added that it was not an isolated incident.
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.
With the fauxtography/Reutersgate scandal widening, accounts of Israeli atrocities by wire service employees who are also local residents directly affected by the fighting need to be examined carefully. Especially when coincidences begin to stack up.
Two wire service employees, one an Associated Press photographer and the other a Reuters reporter, were in the same convoy fleeing Israeli-occupied Marjayoun when the convoy was attacked, killing several people.
At least one of them is a Marjayoun resident, as is Salam Daher, better known as Green Helmet. Green Helmet has been accused of stagingmedia events at Qana.
Putting aside more conspiratorially-minded critics of the mainstream
media, genuine practical concerns and mounting evidence suggest
Western media has been co-opted by Hezbollah in Lebanon to a
significant agree. So much so, in fact, that it may be unable to paint
an accurate picture of the current conflict.
The two year old image at right is from a Reuters video of
Palestinian terrorists escaping from an action in Israel with the aid
of a UN van. Video here.
The decision by America's MSM not to publish it at the time may
represent press bias, or that its concern for American's right to know
is somewhat selective. However, it also serves to make another
Service organizations like the UN and the Red Cross often rely on
local individuals to flesh out their staffs. Obviously, there are areas
of the world where it's difficult to tell the good guys from the bad
and sometimes the bad guys may represent the majority of the local
population. Such may be the case in Southern Lebanon and it invites the
kind of co-optation witnessed above.
With the MSM having decided to rely heavily on local stringers in
covering the Israeli Hezbollah conflict in Southern Lebanon, their
coverage appears to have fallen prey to manipulation by a terrorist
group, or at least its propaganda machine.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ended his Wednesday newscast by reading a few e-mails from viewers, starting with one which matched an August 1 NewsBusters/August 2 MRC CyberAlert item I wrote, "NBC's Williams Ignores Declining U.S. Troop Deaths, Highlights Total Iraq 'Death Toll.'" With the text on screen, Williams read aloud the comment from the unidentified e-mailer (a NewsBusters reader?) who complained about how Williams was guilty of "sensationalizing U.S. deaths in Iraq with a huge body count number flashed on the screen," and asked: "Do you think it might also have been news worth noting that July's casualty count was the third lowest in the past 2 years and that they FELL in July for the third straight month? Of course not -- because that does not fit the template of your news program." (Transcript, and the matching NewsBusters item, follows)
It seems some in the legacy media are entering into that next phase
of narrative manipulation—a redefining of terms in order to 1) provide
revisionary cover for its ideological fellow travelers, and 2) to
fabricate and then facilitate a bandwagon effect. For instance, The New York Times this morning editorializes on the Lamont victory this way:
rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare
phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved
over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a
deeply unmoderate direction.
An “uprising” of “moderates”? Come now. Lamonts’ supporters are to
moderates what Jeffrey Dahmer was to gourmands: just because they
believe themselves to be the arbiters of political taste doesn’t make
them anything more than simple partisan cannibals. And I doubt very
much many of his supporters would even identify themselves
as moderates—though if they believe adopting the label will help them
regain power or take control of the Democratic party, they’ll almost
certainly suck it up and wear it in the months and years to come. The
ends justify the means, after all—and the New York Times has
shown itself willing to equate the Kossacks with Bill Clinton
Democrats. That is, they’ve signaled their willingness to help the
netroots take control of the party (see the new Kossack directive for
completing the purge here)—and
the plan is to do so by massaging the narrative and finding labels for
the players that strike just the right chords with Americans who don’t
follow politics all too closely.
For the last decade or two, the Big Three network news ratings have declined and their once-iron grip on public opinion has loosened, prompting this debate: is this decline merely a sign of increasing 24-7 media availability (cable news, Internet sites) or is the liberal tilt of the networks driving conservative viewers away from these networks in favor of alternative outlets?
Network news executives have consistently chosen the former, denying a liberal bias and denying that the ratings decline means they should have to change their modus operandi in any way. They are in denial of the obvious. A new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press proves the point. It shows a dramatic decline in nightly network news viewership in the last four years among the Republican viewers they polled. While the number of Democrats saying they regularly watch network news increased from 35 percent in 2002 to 38 percent in 2006, the number of Republicans who say they view major TV newscasts declined from 34 percent in 2002 to 24 percent in 2006.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a prominent organization that has been combatting anti-Semitism and bigotry for 90 years, has issued a letter to MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann. The letter, dated July 28, 2006, takes serious issue with Olbermann's repeated use of the Nazi salute while badgering Bill O'Reilly. The body of ADL's letter begins as follows:
We are deeply dismayed by your ongoing use of the Nazi "Sieg Heil" salute, both on your program and in public appearances -- including the recent Television Critics Association press tour -- while holding up a mask of Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly.
Today's Los Angeles Times includes an extended obituary on Dorothy Healey, described as "a onetime labor organizer, civil rights activist and Marxist radio commentator." The newspaper found nothing but praise for the old comrade. According to an acquaintance: "She was always so fiercely partisan for working people. Yes, of course, she cared about war and peace and women's issues, but she was always concerned about working people."
A college historian credits her union activism with leading "her to become an advocate of black and Chicano rights at a time when few other people were speaking out on such issues."
A week after a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey determined that a much higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans prefer to get their news from the broadcast networks, CNN, MSNBC and NPR, a new Gallup Poll released today provides additional evidence that Democrats look more favorably upon the "mainstream media" as Gallup showed how “Democrats are more favorable than Republicans in their views” of eleven of 17 news personalities respondents were asked to assess. Dan Rather had the greatest net difference -- 38 percent -- with 86 percent of Democrats viewing him favorably, compared to just 48 percent of Republicans. Only two of the 17 news personalities (Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera) got more favorable evaluations from Republicans than Democrats. (Hat tip to Romenesko)
Others with a significant Democratic versus Republican approval gap include the incoming CBS Evening News anchor and the new co-host of NBC's Today: 17 points for Katie Couric (68% vs. 51%) and 15 points for Meredith Vieira (45% vs. 30%). Some others: Anderson Cooper (49% vs. 36%); Matt Lauer (65% vs. 53%), Barbara Walters (71% vs. 59%), Diane Sawyer (86% vs. 74%), Larry King (62% vs. 53%) and Bob Schieffer (54% vs. 47%).
Friday night's edition of "Now" with David Brancaccio on PBS followed the old Bill Moyers formula of two leftists having an echo-chamber conversation. Brancaccio and Berkeley journalism dean Orville Schell agreed and agreed about how the press aren't liberal enough, the people don't want another Watergate/Vietnam era enough, and the free market can't be counted on to provide "independent" (read: thoroughly ultraliberal) journalism. "We're all [a] slave to the market," Brancaccio suggested.
Since Schell was a China scholar, Brancaccio even suggested the current administration might be inspired in their devotion to squelching the press by the Chinese communists. "I'm not sure I want to give government ideas on this particular point, but maybe our government could look to China, which has really raised this notion of, of censorship of their news media to almost a scientific level."
ABC News is taking seriously charges in the left-wing blogosphere that a YouTube video spoofing Al Gore's global warming movie is really financed by a big oil company.
The belief is that the movie was made to look homespun but is really "actually came from a slick Republican public relations firm called DCI, which just happens to have oil giant Exxon as a client."
Time.com online editor Ana Marie Cox, who used to run the Wonkette blog, says that today people are more likely to "believe something that comes straight from the horse's mouth," than the mainstream media. This is why the film was made to look amateurish, she says, because people are suspicious of anything that looks too slick.
What better way for CNN to show where it stands on the issues of the day than to officially put Castro's daughter on the payroll as a contributor? Jon Friedman delivers a slap to CNN for this obvious attempt to position itself as the network with the most communist insight.
You have to wonder exactly what journalistic verities Alina Fernandez brings to the job. Granted, she is the host of a radio program in Miami and the author of "Castro's Daughter: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba." Make that a fairly DISTANT memoir, though. As USA Today noted, she was a toddler when Castro came to power 47 years ago and had only "sporadic contact" with her notorious father over the years.
CNN wants the public to believe that Fernandez has unique insights about her homeland and her father -- even though she left the country in 1993, disguised as a Spanish tourist, no less.
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:
In the very last seconds of the 7pm EDT hour of Friday's The Situation Room on CNN, anchor Wolf Blitzer remarked to Jack Cafferty: "You know, one of the big stories this week, perhaps under-reported, top U.S. Generals now acknowledging, Guess what? The Iraq situation may be on the verge of a civil war." Is Blitzer in a parallel universe? Those comments Thursday, from Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace and General John Abizaid, about the "possibility" that Iraq "could" fall into civil war, were all over the cable networks Thursday and Friday, including Blitzer's three hours.
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Thursday all made the civil war talk their lead stories. NBC's Brian Williams, for instance, began: "Tonight, is civil war becoming a reality in Iraq? Two of the Pentagon's most senior Generals now say it looks that way." The broadcast network morning shows on Friday all devoted first half hour time to the warnings. “Is Iraq on the brink of civil war? It was a stunning admission from two top Generals testifying on the escalating violence in Iraq,” CBS Early Show co-host Julie Chen announced. "U.S. General Says Iraq Could Slide Into a Civil War," heralded a Friday New York Times front page story and the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today all plastered it on their front pages. (Full rundown follows)
PBS’s left-wing program "Now" with David Brancaccio is interviewing another left-wing expert tonight to make a left-wing argument: that the national media is too soft on warmongers like George W. Bush. The guest is the dean of Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Orville Schell, a contributor to Mother Jones and The Nation, among other hard-left publications. From the PBS website preview on Schell:
"The press has been accused of being the lap dog in the run-up to the war ... we gave the government the benefit of the doubt, I think, to the detriment of the nation as it turned out," he says.
Schell, who is the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, describes the dilemma journalists face when reporting the news in wartime.
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)
An email was sent out to Associated Press staffers that praised the work of its photographers during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. There's even a cash prize of $500 dollars that apparently will get split eight ways. The photographers who took the pictures of dead children in Qana will take part in the reward.
Is this what it takes? If we paid them $500 dollars, maybe photographers in the region would take pictures of terrorists hiding behind human shields.
Last Sunday proved to be one of the most dramatic days in the war between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. AP’s extensive photo team produced a stunning series of images that day that beat the competition and scored huge play worldwide.
Liberal media critics dismiss FNC as biased to the right, pointing to how Republicans prefer to watch it, but a new poll completed by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that by the same margin that Republicans choose to get their news from FNC, Democrats prefer to learn their news from the broadcast networks and, to a somewhat lesser extent, CNN and NPR. In the survey released Sunday, 34 percent of Republicans reported they watch FNC regularly, compared to 20 percent of Democrats -- a 14 point spread. As for the broadcast networks, Pew reported: “The gap between Republicans and Democrats in regular viewership of the nightly network news on ABC, CBS, or NBC is now 14 points, nearly three times as large as it was in 2004; currently, 38 percent of Democrats regularly watch compared with 24 percent of Republicans. There is a slightly smaller gap in the regular audience for NPR -- 22 percent of Democrats listen regularly, compared with 13 percent of Republicans.” A higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans watch CNN, MSNBC, network morning shows, Sunday morning interview programs and TV news magazine shows. Other than FNC, Rush Limbaugh is the only measured news source to which more Republicans than Democrats turn.
On the CBS News "Public Eye" site, CBS Evening News producer Ward Sloane was interviewed in the "Ten Plus One" feature. The Public Eye team asked ten questions, and then added one from an outsider, who asked about media watchdog groups: "There is always a lot of criticism, particularly in the realm of political reporting, about journalists being biased against liberals or conservatives. There are organizations that exist primarily to highlight instances of such bias. How do you think that climate affects political coverage, if at all?" Sloane said all the media-bias talk was just fundraising hucksterism:
I do not believe that honest journalists worry about what such organizations say about their stories and pieces. Of course, political stories I’ve worked on have been picked up by both conservative and liberal organizations as being “unfair.” But for these folks, “unfair” is anything that doesn’t promote their agenda. And it is my belief, though I don’t have any evidence of this, that a lot of the howling about media bias is primarily a vehicle to raise money.
Do I think these organizations can be helpful? Not really; I think they just want to use journalists and their media outlets for their own purposes. People who read or subscribe to those organizations are going to think the media is biased anyway. Once in a blue moon, it may be that they do serve the purpose of poking a stick in my eye and asking, hey, did I slant that item?