Writing at TCS Daily, Glenn Reynolds wonders about the net effect of the exposure of the fact that fake news is more common than previously supposed:
In a democratic polity -- or even one that's driven by things like "world opinion" -- faked news poses a real threat to decent decision-making. Worse yet, the likely outcome of widespread fakery will be a tendency on the part of people to simply dismiss news that they don't want to hear. (And we already see enough of that phenomenon as it is). [...]
Once again, as I've said in previous columns, it boils down to whom you can trust. And although it seems that Big Media outfits, which want to make money and be around for the long term, would have a sufficient investment in their credibility not to fake news themselves, or to pass along fake news except in extraordinary circumstances, the evidence of recent weeks is that journalism is rife with fakery, and that we're seeing more of it now mostly because it's easier to spot now that lots of people can examine the evidence and compare notes. [...]
Context is key. And one of the lessons of these various affairs is that neither the photo, nor the purveyor of the photo, should be given unquestioned authority. Instead, we have to think for ourselves, and make up our own minds. Because it turns out that we can't trust, well, much of anyone.
He's right, of course. But realizing the need to think critically is only
part of the solution. Despite the fact that a
great many interactive web participants (bloggers, blog readers, and forum
users) realize the value of not buying into everything you see, many do not.
A still larger group aren't even reading blogs or forums, which presents a
bit of a problem.
Will Thoretz is the company spokesman for VNU Media, the company that owns Editor & Publisher and employs Editor Greg Mitchell, a man that has something of a "truth problem" according to Michael Silence, and seems to be on the wrong side of an example of "journalistic malpractice" according to Stephen Spruiell.
Mary Katharine Ham of Townhall.com attempted to contact Mitchell at Editor & Publisher for comment several times yesterday, but Mitchell has thus far decline to respond. Ham also tried to contact Will Thoretz of Editor & Publisher's parent company, VNU Media, and while she was able to speak to his assistant, Thoretz has not responded to Ham to date.
Color me skeptical, but evidence indicating that one of your editors
has severe ethical issues should demand an immediate response of some
sort, unless, of course, the decision has been made to stonewall the
story and hope it goes away.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld finally articulated at least a portion of what conservative bloggers have been pointing out for some time - Islamist terror groups have had considerable success in planting and slanting stories within the Western mainstream media:
FALLON NAVAL AIR STATION, Nev. (AP) -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday he is deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners. "What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror. "They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said. "They can lie with impunity."
Rumsfeld stopped short of pointing out what became obvious during the Israeli-Hizballah conflict in Lebanon; that the mainstream media's use of local reporters and photographers has virtually ensured its infiltration by terrorist sympathizers. Likewise, Rumsfeld did not mention that the tainted reporting serves the purposes of Democrats running on anti-war platforms.
Reuters claims this armored car was hit by two missiles from an Israeli helicopter.
As you can see, Isreal's new missiles are quite different than the
standard Hellfire and TOW ATGMs of the past, both of which, designed
for tanks, would have minced an armored car such as this one. Ths
armored car is said to have been hit not once, but twice by missiles, and the only apparent damage is a hole that seems to be surrounded by rust. Corrosion, or explosion?
I think it is fairly obvious that if the Israelis did fire two
missiles at this armor car, that the car did not take a direct hit.
Tanks can't survive the ATGMs Israel uses on their helicopters, and
armored cars have much thinner armor than tanks. It would have cut
through one side, detonated, and left a shattered, burning hulk. There
was no explosion, and even a dud would have completely punched through
the vehicle, exiting the other side with a noticable hole. The photo
below shows no such penetration on the opposite side.
Based upon the facts and previous statements and articles, it appears as though Editor and Publisher Editor Greg Mitchell may have intentionally misled readers when he allegedly came clean regarding a lapse in journalistic ethics early in his career.
The facts seem to indicate he was a 21 year-old paid professional journalist, not the 19 year-old intern he allowed readers to believe. Mitchell has also previously acknowledged relevant facts he managed to get wrong in his mea culpa as highly memorable events.
Given the additional discovery that he has now gone back three years after the fact to alter the article's lede, thereby reinforcing errors that diminish the significance of his lapse, some may find it difficult to conclude Mitchell's misreporting was anything other than an intentional act.
As bloggers continue to examine alleged instances of post-publication editing by Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell, they appear to have uncovered additional instances where Mitchell may have altered previosuly published work. Blogger Allah Pundit, posting at Hot Air felt that two paragraphs were added after publication to a recent Mitchell piece.
I will swear to you on a stack of Bibles that those two paragraphs weren’t there when the article first went online. I wrote a whole post about it; I read it through several times, specifically looking for instances of Mitchell taking disingenuous shots at bloggers. There were none. It was just a compendium of quotes from the Lightstalkers thread. Today, after reading CY’s post accusing him (or someone) of rewriting that old column, I checked the two about war photographers. And there were the paragraphs about Zombie that I don’t remember reading.
Update: Mitchell had acknowledged his age twice in the previous version of the article and also stated it was a summer internship. Those items are in paragraphs five and six and have not changed. What he did was move it into the lead. You can see that in the old and new versions.
Still, I felt bad about it for years and (obviously) have never forgotten it. On the other hand, I was, at the time, just 19, it was a summer internship, and I'd only been on the job about a month.
One of the many alarming things about the Jayson Blair scandal is that he never grew up, and no one at The New York Times ever seemed to notice. My ethical breach at 19 in Niagara Falls was bad enough. One expects a bit more from a 27-year-old with years of experience in New York.
Greg Mitchell, the editor of the influential news trade publication Editor and Publisher has recently raised a spiriteddefense
against questions and allegations that news may have been staged in
some instances in the recent Israeli/Hezbollah war in Lebanon, may
sound particularly defensive because of his own guilty history of staging news:
Since the press seems to be in full-disclosure mode these days, I want
to finally come clean. Back when I worked for the Niagara Falls (N.Y.)
Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette), our city editor asked me to find out
what tourists thought about an amazing local event: Engineers had
literally "turned off" the famous cataracts, diverting water so they
could shore up the crumbling rock face. Were visitors disappointed to
find a trickle rather than a roar? Or thrilled about witnessing this
First published as a weekly in 1884 as The Journalist, Editor & Publisher (E&P) is a monthly journal covering the North American newspaper industry.
Since 2002, Greg Mitchell has been the Editor of E&P, and
he writes both an online and print column. While I've never read the
print version, I have occasionally read Mitchell's online Pressing Issues column, and have actually written about what he has had to say twice in the past.
Click. Print. Bang. was a reaction to the mind of Mitchell, as in his column he advocated that the media should attempt to actively undermine (subscriber-only) the current U.S. President:
No matter which party they generally favor or political stripes they
wear, newspapers and other media outlets need to confront the fact that
America faces a crisis almost without equal in recent decades.
Our president, in a time of war, terrorism and nuclear intrigue,
will likely remain in office for another 33 months, with crushingly low
approval ratings that are still inching lower. Facing a similar
problem, voters had a chance to quickly toss Jimmy Carter out of
office, and did so. With a similar lengthy period left on his White
House lease, Richard Nixon quit, facing impeachment. Neither outcome is
at hand this time.
It seems that the Lebanese army is starting to inspect and neutralize all of the unexploded artillery and other ordinance that Shamnesty is so worried about. This photograph is rather odd, though. It's extremely grainy, due to high levels of jpeg compression, but it purports to be two members of the Lebanese Army inspecting an unexploded missile. What's odd is that the object they're studying doesn't readily appear to be a missile to me—Could it be an external fuel tank? Some other piece of artillery? Humpback whale? Beats me. As usual, if you have exceptional eyesight and vast stores of military knowledge, be sure to chime in and let me know what you think. I'm also looking to analyze some of the other pictures as well, so if you're up on your weapons identification skills, be sure to check it out!
Wow! It would seem that our original story is taking off in more directions than we'd ever imagined! For starting with a mere, "Hezbullah has been known for counterfeiting," and seeing the context of the discussion evolve into such a detailed analysis of the photographic evidence is awe-inspiring, to say the least. Once again, this proves to me that investigative journalism isn't dead:—it lives on in cyberspace, even if it's been dead in the mainstream media for a decade.
Let's be clear: The press does not want you to think about current events. They want you to "feel" them. By doing so, they control your entire thought process on what you're reading, and what you're seeing.
This series of photographs, to me, is one of the basest examples of propaganda I've ever seen. There's no logical reason for a photograph like this—it contains no information, but merely reduces the entire argument over the war to base emotions. And, as we all have learned over time, information transmitted by raw emotion can only be referred to as one word:—Propaganda!
Check out some of the latest examples of raw, context-free emotion. If anyone can come up with a reasonable explanation for this kind of photograph, that excludes the possibility of the wires merely distributing propaganda, please be sure to let me know or leave a comment!
Caption:... Hezbollah members began distributing US$12,000 in crisp cash bills Friday to those who lost their homes in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla) Now that Hezbullah has suddenly morphed into a philanthropic organization, we learn from this photograph that they are distributing approximately US$12,000 to the needy in areas destroyed by Israel. Of course, what is our intrepid photographer obviously not curious enough to know? Well, that Hezbullah has alreadybeendinged for counterfeiting U.S. currency:
One of the most prominent and influential members of the Hizballah terrorist organization, along with two of his companies, was designated by the Treasury Department today under Executive Order 13224. Assad Ahmad Barakat has close ties with Hizballah leadership and has worked closely with numerous Islamic extremists and suspected Hizballah associates in South America's tri-border area (TBA), made up of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. . . .
Once again, it's left to theBlogosphere to ask the questions the media isn't interested in asking.
UPDATE 11:59 EST: I've collected some photographs of what's proving to be the world's newest charity. They are quite amusing.
UPDATE 13:35 EST: Ok, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, we're now being introduced to Hezbullah Engineering, presumably the only company in the world that can deal with those nasty Zionist craters. The transparency of the anti-American, anti-Israeli press is really starting to shine.
UPDATE 19-AUG-2006 11:50 EST: MechEng has pointed out that $100 bills should have a security seal embedded in them roughly where the Treasury seal is on the front, yet on the wires, we see the silhouette of a bill that does not appear to have such a thread. While not 100% conclusive, I'd say it definitely raises the possibility that these are, quote, "Phonier than a New York politician!"
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.
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?
First Reuters had a photo scandal to face. Now Go Pundit Go has discovered that Reuters is currently employing a former writer for the People’s Daily World, a Communist Party USA publication. And it turns out his propagandistic tendencies haven't left him, as he recently wrote a glowing review in the Financial Times on how Cubans are dealing with their leader's poor health:
"Cuba remained calm on Sunday as people engaged in voluntary work, cleaned neighbourhoods and donated blood in Mr Castro’s honour."
You can see Marc Frank's latest Reuters work here.
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)
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?
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.
Last week, I documented here the way CNN leaned over backwards for balance in a story. In the wake of the Seattle Jewish Center shooting, it equated the fear of Jewish-Americans of similar incidents . . . with the fear of Hezbollah supporters of being unfairly accused.
Although it wasn't nearly so egregious, Fox News Channel's Anita Vogel [seen here in a file photo] just engaged in some over-reaching herself in the name of balance. She narrated an otherwise solid segment on 'fauxtography' and other ways in which the media and Hezbollah supporters manipulate the news. The segment included an interview with star blogger Charles Johnson, founder of Little Green Footballs, who played a key role in outing the smoky Beirut-skyline bit of fauxtography.
But then, searching for balance where there really is little or none to be had, Vogel claimed that the Israeli government also manipulates the news:
"But we need to keep in mind, there are other ways foreign governments control the media. The Israeli government exercises control over the media during wartime, like prohibiting them from reporting on real-time rocket strikes and places in northern Israel where officials are visiting due to safety concerns."
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.
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.
It's important to remember that photographs don't necessarily have to be modified to be propaganda. Consider this one, sent out by the Associated Press from their coverage of the London protests.
Notice how the photograph was taken from a low angle? The photographer clearly intended to present a "David vs. Goliath" scenario, with the United States predictably being shoe-horned into Goliath's role. (It's comforting to see that ANSWER has already modified their protest to be against the "US/Israeli war.") Who fills the shoes of the righteous David? Why, of course—Hezbullah does!
I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of this photo, as it's much more "emotion-filled" than the one taken moments before.
I look forward to continuing with my hunt for photographic propaganda.
The fauxtography scandal is blowing out of control as proof after proof rolls in how much of the self-described photojournalism coming out of Lebanon is illegitimate. If you're a blogger (or are reading some) covering the story, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll include a link in this roundup. And of course, you can link in the comments as well. Comments are now open to unregistered users.
UPDATE 6:25. After an overnight hardware failure, NB is back up and running. The links will begin momentarily.
UPDATE 6:38. Snapped Shot is another blog worth checking out. Keep those links coming, folks!
UPDATE 7:05. Via NB reader Geepers comes this link to a German TV news show proving that the infamous Salam Daher, aka "greenhelmetguy," is a stage manager for Hezbollah. The video shows him rehearsing the removal of a body from an ambulance and giving directions to the camera operator.