When the "six burning Sunnis" story hit the blogosphere, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal wrote that bloggers had "turned over a rock" at the Associated Press.
In his Best of the Web column today, Taranto turns over a rock himself and discovers a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News trying to scurry away from the light. Will Bunch is upset that conservative bloggers, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, and CENTCOM blew the whistle on the AP's story.
Now comes the flap over a mosque attack in Baghdad, and a dispute over the news account -- trumpted [sic] on this Daily News front page at top -- that six Sunni worshippers were burned alive. This Huffington Post post does a good job of breaking down the mixed signals on whether this event really happened as reported by the AP. It's clear to me that a) The AP based its article on information from a trusted and previously reliable source, which is no guarantee of avoiding an error but is also the proven and accepted way all over the world that journalists gather news and b) even if the report were wrong, and I'm not convinced that it is, it was in the context of horrific -- and demonstrably true -- escalating violence in Baghdad.
O'Brien, during a more wakeful momentAs alreadynotedhere on NewsBusters, the Senate held a hearing today examining the role of the media in promoting climate alarmism. With others covering the newsmaking part of the discussion, I decided to drop by to observe things from a blogger's point of view.
I went into the hearing expecting it would be more interesting than your typical congressional hearing and wasn't disappointed. Dr. David Deming, a geophysicist from the University of Oklahoma recounted an experience he had with an NPR reporter who hung up on him after he declined to say that he thought global temperature increases were human-caused.
Apparently I was not joined in my assessment of things by CNN "American Morning" anchor Miles O'Brien who fell asleep during the discussion, according to several witnesses. Only a colleague's nudge prevented the slumbering former science correspondent from missing the entire discussion. One would think that O'Brien could have scared up some more interest considering his ongoingfeud with Sen. Inhofe. The two have tangled on O'Brien's CNN show and both have denounced each other from their respective platforms.
Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner weighs in on how the Associated Press can extricate themselves from the Jamil Hussein/burning men story in Iraq. Sound familiar?
What AP appears not to grasp is that the most serious questions about
its credibility are already in the minds of millions of people, thanks
in part to the bloggers, but also to the few mainstream media
organizations that have covered the growing controversy.
What is most puzzling about the AP reaction is its failure to do
the one thing that would instantly put the critics in their place -
produce Capt. Jamil Hussein. If he is in fact an Iraqi police captain,
it is impossible to understand why he cannot be produced and his
"Captain Jamil Hussein" is but one of 14 Iraqi-sounding names of
sources quoted by AP that U.S. military officials say cannot be
verified as credible sources.
By this point, the Associated Press has almost assuredly tried to
contact Jamil Hussein to come on camera, in uniform, in his police
office to prove that he does in fact exist, thereby shutting down this
Just as assuredly, the present silence from the Associated Press on
the matter indicates that they have likely failed to produce their
source for over 60 news stories.
Here comes the 2008 presidential cycle, and on cue, Associated Press reporters are finding "centrists" in the race whose voting records are NOT a 50-50 mishmash of conservative and liberal. This cycle's "centrist" contenders are Hillary Clinton (actually strongly, staunchly liberal) and Evan Bayh (liberal most of the time.)
AP reporter Beth Fouhy stressed that Hillary Clinton won "even the most conservative areas of her adopted home state of New York," but there are drawbacks: "Despite her centrist six-year Senate voting record, Clinton's reputation remains deeply rooted in her polarizing eight years as first lady. Skeptics say she may still be too liberal for many voters, who recall her husband's scandal-plagued presidency and her own audacious effort to reform the nation's health care system."
Writer Tom Zeller manages to muddy the waters without ever directly mentioning the most troubling question of all: whether or not al Qaeda propagandists are using the Western media to foment civil war in Iraq. The closest Zeller comes to acknowledging this vital issue is mentioning the title of the Flopping Aces post that started the controversy, Getting News From the Enemy.
Qais al-Bashir, the AP reporter responsible for the burning Sunnis story, is up to the same old tricks. His article did not make it to the American media but was published in The Guardian. Guess the AP forgot about the Internet.
This time al-Bashir reported on the Baghdad Market bombing. While we know that the bombing did actually happen, the tall tale weaver ran with an inflated casualty count from one of the unauthorized sources from CentCom's list.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Three parked car bombs exploded in central Baghdad on Saturday near a predominantly Shiite area packed with vendors, killing at least 91 people and wounding dozens, officials said.The bombs were about 100 yards apart in the busy al-Sadriyah shopping district and exploded nearly simultaneously, according to police Lt. Ali Muhsin.
In today's Boston Herald, columnist Jules Crittenden calls on the mainstream media to confront the Associated Press over its "shoddy" work:
When a company defrauds its customers, or delivers shoddy goods, the customers sooner or later are going to take their business elsewhere. But if that company has a virtual monopoly, and offers something its customers must have, they may have no choice but to keep taking it.
That’s when the customers, en masse, need to raise a stink. That’s when someone else with the resources needs to seriously consider whether the time is ripe to compete.
The Associated Press is embroiled in a scandal. Conservative bloggers, the new media watchdogs, lifted a rock at the AP.
It would be political malpractice for Democrats to hand the microphone for their weekly radio address to someone whose remarks didn't advance the interests of their party. And sure enough, the transcript of left-wing preacher Jim Wallis's talk of today reveals nothing that wouldn't comfortably fit in the mouth of Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.
Wallis might coyly call himself "non-partisan," but does that oblige the CNN-AP to follow suit? Yet in its story on Wallis's address, AP-CNN referred to Wallis as "non-partisan" and tried to bolster that view of him by adding that "the religious leader has been openly critical of Democratic politicians." Perhaps as a matter of the Dems' overly-partisan form. But as a matter of substance, Wallis's views are indistinguishable from those of the liberal mainstream of the Democratic party.
What really happened on Flight 300 in Minneapolis surely isn't what what the media originally reported (examples: Associated Press, Bloomberg). Richard Miniter's Pajamas Media's report, other blog reports, and the Washington Times get us as close as we'll probably ever get to the full truth.
OVERVIEW: As we have seen during the past two weeks in the reporting of incidents out of Iraq (the "Ramadi non-Airstrike" covered by Patterico, and the "Burning Six" assembled by Michelle Malkin), that the press will not wait to release a report that fits one of their templates ("Soldiers kill civilians," "Iraq is an incurable mess," "There is heavy bias against Islam," etc.) if the limited facts at hand seem to support that template. By the time the full set of facts catches up, millions of readers and viewers have been misled (and, of course, influenced); corrections, if any, are limited; and the press has moved on to their next story. "Drive-by Media" indeed.
As a convenience to readers, I have converted Miniter's PDF of Pauline's e-mail to HTML, and it is here. It did not convert perfectly, but no text was lost; I strongly recommend a full read, as it makes additional points not raised in this post. The 3.8 mb police report PDF file is not readily convertible.
Here's a portion of what Miniter wrote, (but DO read the whole thing):
NOTE: Skip to the last paragraph to get the media bias-related conclusion/speculation.
The Institute for Supply Management's November report tells us that manufacturing's winning streak is over:
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector failed to grow in November for the first time following 41 consecutive months of growth, while the overall economy grew for the 61st consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.
As I have noted periodically (here, here, and here, among others), the 41-month expansion streak we were in the midst of is one of the longest ever, and enters the record books with other expansions as follows (link is to ISM history going all the way back to 1948; parenthetical values are for the month following the end of each streak, the lowest value it went to during the subsequent contraction, and the number of months it took for the value to get back to 50.0 or higher):
-- October 1962 - December 1966: 51 months (49.1, 42.8, 8)
-- August 1975 - July 1979: 48 months (49.5, 44.8, 7)
-- February 1971 - August 1974: 43 months (46.2, 30.7, 12)
-- June 2003 - October 2006: 41 months (49.5, NA, NA)
-- August 1986 - April 1989: 33 months (49.3, 45.1, 12)
The "police captain" that the Associated Press used as the source for their story about six Sunni men dragged from prayers and burned alive by Shiite militants is not a policeman and does not work for the Iraqi government in any capacity, according to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior.
CENTCOM had warned the AP about Hussein and other questionable sources they were using, but was rebuffed by the wire service organization. The AP's sensational story of the burning Sunnis was cited by NBC as a reason they decided to start calling violence in Iraq a "civil war." The source, "police captain Jamil Hussein," has been quoted in wire service stories since April of this year.
I already linked to Flopping Aces, read his bust of the AP here. Given that, or even aside from it, should this, (registration required) via the AP, be in the main Iraq story in the Chicago Tribune today?
Separately, police and witnesses said U.S. soldiers shot and killed 11 civilians and wounded five on Sunday night in the Baghdad suburb of Husseiniya.
"We were sitting inside our house when the Americans showed up and started firing at homes. They killed many people and burned some houses," said one of the witnesses, a man with bandages on his head who was being treated at Imam Ali Hospital in the Shiite slum of Sadr City. The police and witnesses spoke with Associated Press Television News on condition of anonymity to protect their own security.
A man poured gasoline on himself on November 3rd and on the side of the road on Chicago's Kennedy Expressway he lit himself on fire. It caused a traffic jam, but little else. In fact, no one even knew who the suicide was for several days until a friend of his got a letter sent him by the dead man just before his final day.
And still, few cared.
It turns out this was supposed to be some kind of anti-war statement akin to a Buddhist monk's self-immolation in Saigon during Vietnam. Sadly, this protester didn't seem to know that statements don't mean very much unless someone actually hears them.
The man, an activist named Mark David "Malachi" Ritscher, left a rambling manifesto-like web page purportedly explaining his actions that does little but show his rather unbalanced mental state. As Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper put it, the web message "comes across as intelligent, passionate, bitter, angry, disoriented -- and disturbed".
With the recent racial slur outburst from "Seinfeld" actor, Michael Richards, we will have to pay close attention to see if Richards gets a softer treatment than Mel Gibson did with his own racial slur laden rant earlier in the year.
But, if this AP report is any indication, it seems sure that "Kramer" won't be as maligned as Mel Gibson.
Let's trot out the AP's deepest, most tiresome wish that Iraq is the new Vietnam once more. And THIS time, all it takes is a Bush state visit to the country once enmeshed in internecine warfare to cause the AP to trot out all the old claims and prosaic comparisons.
In a long, presumptuous story Jennifer Loven, our intrepid AP reporter, makes all sorts of wild comparisons making her piece -- titled Bush Vietnam Trip Revives Iraq 'Quagmire'-- almost a parody of itself.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush's recent acknowledgment that the war in Iraq was comparable to the Viet Cong's psychologically devastating Tet Offensive in 1968 was hardly the first time a parallel has been drawn between the Iraq and Vietnam conflicts.
Questions about a "quagmire" have haunted the president's Iraq policy since before a single bomb fell on Baghdad.
Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms of bias, pop star Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.
“I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people,” John said in the Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine. “Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.”
“But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion,” he said. “From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.”
Nobody should be surprised when the MSM takes an anti-American angle on just about anything that is printed in the press today. Surprise is mostly reserved for articles that are fair and objective.
Thus I was typically disappointed when I opened the AP section of Yahoo News and was confronted with “World opinion divided on Saddam sentence”. However, as I read the article I was stunned at how willing the writer was to allow questionable claims to go unchecked by those opposed to the War in Iraq and U.S. foreign policy. (Update - The AP Rolled the article off the wires so I replaced the link with an ABC news copy).
There is rarely a time where a statement by Republicans or President Bush is left to hang without the typical “yeah but” rebuttal. Yet the Associated Press has reached a new low in unprofessional reporting as they allow the following quotes to hang as if they were accepted dogma; which may in fact be the case for the reporter on this story. (all emphasis mine)
This reminds me of something blogger Ace of Spades mentioned to me some time ago about how it's not just the words, it's the pictures. Seemingly without exception, stories about the economy durng the 1990s had images or video of machines producing currency, cash registers ringing, and heavy traffic inside shopping malls. When's the last time anyone saw any of this in a news report about this very good economy?
Without offering any contrary views AP reports that the drop in profits for US Citgo gas stations only hurts Americans.
This half-the-story report was buttressed with a quote from Vance McSpadden, executive director of the Oklahoma Petroleum Association. McSpadden wants to stop Americans from avoiding the Citgo chain of stations -- Citgo gets their imported product from Hugo Chavez' state owned and operated Venezuelan oil companies
Over the Summer, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez went on a world-wide tour of America's biggest enemies telling them and all who would listen how America is the Great Satan and that George Bush is the devil. His whirlwind tour of hate ended at a rostrum in the U.N. where he made himself look the fool in front of the world to the applause of rabid America haters everywhere.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- So much for the Republican charm offensive toward minorities. Black voters are far less likely to approve of the way President Bush is doing his job than voters generally and they are more likely to feel that the country is on the wrong track, disheartening news for a Republican Party that has been trying to curry favor with minority voters in recent years.
The Associated Press is continuing to report that Democrat Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland supports stem cell research despite the fact that his recent voting record contradicts such claims.
Fox, who supports research on embryonic stem cell for a potential cure for Parkinson's, also has lent his celebrity to Democrats Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, running for the Senate in Maryland, and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, who is seeking re-election. Both politicians also back stem-cell research. [emphasis added]
The AP appears to be star struck by Michael J. Fox with the debut of his campaign ad for Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill and several other Dems this week. So star struck that the AP has pronounced him a great success in a puff piece today. But how can they possibly know for sure if his ads are working?
Ah, the refined sensibilities of the Associated Press. Far be it from that paragon of journalistic impartiality to insert itself in the controversy over whether George Bush & Co. intentionally murdered thousands of Americans on 9-11 via the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.
And so it is that the Associated Press preciously entitled its article about the decision of 9-11 conspiracy nut Steven Jones to retire from his BYU professor's post:
"BYU Scholar, Sept. 11 Theorist, Resigns".
A "scholar" and a "theorist." Impressive! Might that be some kind of hybrid between a 'gentleman and a scholar' and a theoretical physicist, perhaps? Now, in fairness, I wouldn't expect the AP to adopt my "conspiracy whack job" nomenclature in its headline - although it would be entirely accurate. But the utter neutrality of "theorist" coupled with the honorary title of "scholar" seems excessive. Would the AP describe David Duke as a "racial theorist," for example?
(AP) London, March 2, 1867: Karl Marx, a rising star among centrist economists, announced today the publication of the first volume of his treatise, 'Das Kapital'.
OK, perhaps I exaggerate a tad. But is there any man of the left that the MSM is unwilling to cast as a "centrist" or moderate, particularly when he is seen as a potential Democratic presidential nominee?
The Associated Press offers a perfect case in point this evening. This article reports Barack Obama's acknowledgement on today's Meet The Press that, earlier protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, he is indeed contemplating a run for the presidency. Writes the AP:
"In recent weeks, his political stock has been rising as a potentially viable centrist candidate for president." [emphasis added]
As NewsBusters reported Friday, CNN recently aired videos supplied by terrorists inside Iraq showing snipers attacking American soldiers. As a result of this outrageous behavior, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has asked for all of CNN’s reporters currently embedded with U.S. military units be removed. As reported by the Associated Press:
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee asked the Pentagon on Friday to remove CNN reporters embedded with U.S. combat troops, saying the network's broadcast of a video showing insurgent snipers targeting U.S. soldiers was tantamount to airing an enemy propaganda film.
The tape, which came to the network through contact with an insurgent leader, was aired Wednesday night on "Anderson Cooper 360" and repeated Thursday.
The Associated Press reported late Thursday evening that the chairman of the House Intelligence committee Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) has suspended a Democrat staffer over possibly being the source of the recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate to the New York Times (hat tip to Michelle Malkin): “In a letter to Hoekstra dated Sept. 29, Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., a committee member, said the Democratic staffer requested the document from National Intelligence Director John Negroponte three days before a Sept. 23 story by the Times on its conclusions.”
CBS News today is carrying the AP story, "Dems to Use Moderation if They Win House." Written by Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor, the article appears intended to quiet any anxieties about what a Democratic majority in the House will mean.
"They're mostly a liberal bunch. Yet the would-be chairmen in a House under Democratic control promise to rule from the center. They'd have little choice, given the likely balance of power they would confront if elected."
Later in the story:
"What won't be seen is any serious move to impeach Bush, even though the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, has introduced a bill calling on Congress to determine whether there are grounds for impeachment over the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
"Conyers already has been overruled by Democratic leaders including would-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who dismiss any talk of impeachment."
I experienced an eerie sense of déjà vu this morning while reading an AP article entitled "Iran Blames U.S. for N. Korea Nuke Test." I could swear that I had already read this same blame-America analysis somewhere else. That sent me scrambling back to my report on the piece by LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks, "A Good Week for the Axis of Evil" contained in my NB item of yesterday [but please don't read just yet]. And sure enough, I found language there that closely tracked the statement from Tehran.
So, let's have a little fun. I'll set the two statements out below, and you try to guess. Which was issued by the Men of Mahmoud, and which by a homegrown member of the Blame America Brigades? Answer below.
Since the Mark Foley page story first broke, there have been many articles discussing the double standard in which Republican and Democrat sex scandals are handled by Congress and the media. No finer example of such hypocrisy has been demonstrated than by the Associated Press on Saturday, October 14, which had nothing but high praise for the now deceased former Rep. Gerry Studds while it continued to heap scorn on Foley.
For example, an article entitled “Studds, first openly gay person elected to Congress, dead at 69,” spoke glowingly of the former Congressman who, unlike Foley, actually had a sexual encounter with a seventeen-year-old male page in 1973. In fact, the AP suggested that this was an important moment in history for gay rights:
“Gerry often said it was the fight for gay and lesbian equality that was the last great civil rights chapter in modern American history. He did not live to see its final sentences written, but all of us will forever be indebted to him for leading the way with compassion and wisdom,” said his husband, Dean T. Hara, 49, in a statement.
The article included some glowing praise from a current member of Congress: