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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
For those that are interested, Charles Johnson, the proprietor of Little Green Footballs, was interviewed on CNN earlier today. He discussed at length the issue of Adnan Hajj, the Lebanese photographer at the center of Reutersgate.
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.
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.
It’s one thing when an obviously deluded shill suggests that Americans are stupid because they disagree with him as reported by NewsBusters Saturday. However, it is quite another thing when the largest wire service in the country does it.
Yet, that’s exactly what transpired when the Associated Press published a report Sunday evening entitled “Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD”: “Half of America apparently still thinks so, a new poll finds, and experts see a raft of reasons why: a drumbeat of voices from talk radio to die-hard bloggers to the Oval Office, a surprise headline here or there, a rallying around a partisan flag, and a growing need for people, in their own minds, to justify the war in Iraq.”
Much like CNN’s Jack Cafferty the day before, AP didn’t offer the possibility that many of these believers feel Saddam moved his weapons to Syria or elsewhere before the invasion began. Such was certainly not on the mind of AP writer Charles J. Hanley, who, instead, wanted to make the case that Americans are just deluding themselves:
Last night's report by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs that a "Beirut burning" photo that was clearly and clumsily doctored with Photoshop editing tools had made it way onto the wires from Reuters has morphed into what must be considered a full-blown scandal that should, by rights, shake the news service and other "Mainstream" Media outlets to their very foundations, and force them to reexamine how they conduct and control their photojournalistic efforts around the world.
Consider just some of what has happened in the 24 hours or so since my NewsBusters post very early Sunday morning:
Reuters has "dropped" the freelance Lebanese journalist after the image in question was shown to be doctored:
The wire service offered perhaps the lamest excuse ever offered in the history of photojournalism for Adnan Hajj, the photographer involved --
The headline had me laughing before I even read the article:
"Michael Moore says gets lots of Republican hugs"
I'm thinking it must be a slow news day. But then I read the article and realize that the entire article reads like a press release for Moore, himself.
Michael Moore -- gadfly filmmaker, liberal activist and political lightning rod -- says he finds himself being hugged by a lot of Republicans these days.
So who are these Republicans he speaks of? Does the article identify any?
...the Oscar-winning director says he is approached all the time by conservatives ready to make peace.
Ok, so who are they? Names? Descriptions? Anything....?
Some in solidly Republican northern Michigan and elsewhere now believe that they made a "colossal mistake" in initially supporting the war in Iraq, Moore said, and they have let him know it in chance encounters on the streets of Traverse City, a resort town where he has relocated from New York.
Guess we folks at NewsBusters and at our parent organization, Media Research Center, can go home. Our work is done. Not only is the media not controlled by liberals, it's actually . . . dominated by the right wing. For that matter, it has been for decades! If only we had known, we could have saved ourselves all this trouble.
How did I learn this? From Arshad Hasan, of Democracy for America, the group Howard Dean founded at the end of his candidacy, and that has as its stated goal "to rebuild the Democratic Party." Dean's brother Jim serves at its chair.
Arshad was nice enough to send me an email this morning [OK, I signed up for their list], informing me of the exciting news that DFA is working "to take back our media" and that for such purposes will be conducting online 'DFA Night School' sessions to cover the following subjects:
With Mexicans going to the polls today to elect a new president, Reuters leaves little doubt as to whom it's pulling for: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party The headline tells you all you need to know, but here are a few choice excerpts to flesh out the picture of an heroic 'leftist' bringing hope to the little people, versus the other major candidate, Felipe Calderon, who is given the shortest of shrift, merely being described once, and then only as a 'conservative.' Nuff said!
"When the air reeks of sewage, rain makes your street look like a ploughed field and month-long water shortages mean even bucket baths are sometimes a luxury, a flushing toilet can be a dream worth voting for. A two hour commute from downtown Mexico City on the putrid periphery of a vast urban sprawl, many in this town of housemaids and security guards will vote for a leftist in Sunday's presidential election, hoping he will change their lives." [Intead of a chicken in every pot, a potty in every house?]
"Lopez Obrador gave cash handouts to elderly and disabled people and single-parent families as Mexico City mayor. He has promised to spread those programs throughout Mexico while boosting incomes through welfare payments and fuel price cuts." [Nothing like handouts and more welfare to get an economy going!]
Unlike the 53-state commission, where members were nominated by regional blocs, the council's 47 members were elected by the U.N. General Assembly, a change which proponents say makes it more difficult for rights violators to win a seat.
Sounds better than the previous UN Human Rights watchdog, right?
Unfortunately, the story doesn't mention the fact that several members of this "new" Council are some of the worst human rights abusers in the world today.
We're all a little tired of the parade of Pat Robertson gaffes that the press seems to enjoy -- the latest one being the leg-press-a-ton boasting. But Catholic blogger Mark Shea reports the latest from gay bishop Gene Robinson, an outrageous gaffe that the secular media will predictably ignore:
It's been reported that Karl Rove will not be indicted for the Valerie Plame case. But that doesn't mean Reuters doesn't wish the opposite would have occurred. The organization resurrected a picture from last month and ran it this month after news that Karl Rove was off the hook.
The headline reads 'US probe of Ishaqi killings no surprise for Iraqis.' You might have thought the headline and accompanying article were from Al-Jazeera. But no, it's Reuters that wrote the headline that, dripping with skepticism, suggests that the US military inquiry that cleared American soldiers from wrongdoing in connection with the killing of civilians at Ishaqi was a whitewash. That same cynicism persists throughout the article. Consider these excerpts:
"Isa Khalaf doesn't want cash from the U.S. troops he says massacred his relatives in a March raid. He wants an explanation he may never get now that a U.S. probe has cleared them of any wrongdoing."
"The U.S. investigation that cleared soldiers of any misconduct in Ishaqi may have allowed the soldiers to move on with their lives. But the farming town will be haunted by memories of the bloodshed."
Off the wires from Marketwatch (registration may be required; bolds are mine):
May Chicago PMI rises to highest level since October
Business activity expanded in the Chicago region for the 37th consecutive month in May, the National Association of Purchasing Managers-Chicago said Wednesday. The Chicago purchasing managers' index rose to 61.5% from 57.2% in April, much stronger than the expected decline to 56.2%. It was the highest level since October. Anything over 50% indicates growth. The prices paid index fell to 76.9% from 77.2%. The new orders index rose to 69.6% from 60.8%.
Early yesterday morning at about 3:00 am on the West Coast, someone in Britain connected to the Internet and browsed over to this article at the Guardian by Inayat Bunglawala, media secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain: This code could open doors.
Bunglawala’s piece (about the Da Vinci Code) is in the section of the Guardian site where readers can comment, and someone posted a link to LGF as a rebuttal to Bunglawala. Our Swedish British visitor clicked that link, leading him/her/it to this post: Swedish Muslims Demand Shari’a.
Imagine you're a newswire editor writing the headline for a story in which former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has accused Pres. Bush of 'religious absolutism.' What would be a fair headline? Something like:
Albright Accuses Bush of 'Religious Absolutism'
Now consider Reuters' actual headline:
Albright Critical of Bush's Religious Absolutism
Note the not-so-subtle difference. We've moved from Albright accusing Bush of religious absolutism, to Reuters effectively reporting Bush's absolutism as a fact, of which Albright is simply critical. Not even a set of quotation remarks around 'religious absolutism' to clarify that the words are Albright's, and not unquestioned fact.
In April I wrote about the opening of the Democrats' Election 2008 Talking Points Tour. It kicked off with Barack Obama preaching the certainty of fossil fuels heating up our planet while conveniently neglecting to mention what is heating up Mars and Jupiter.
The media has turned the tour up a notch with a twisted fascination over Al Gore, coverage excuse provided by his new movie on global warming that is certain man is heating the planet with SUV usage while conveniently neglecting to mention what is heating up Mars and Jupiter. Al ensures full media coverage by bringing the war into it.
"I also believe that after 9/11 if, in addition to rallying the country and wisely invading Afghanistan to pursue Osama bin Laden, that if the president of the United States had said 'Let's become independent of oil and coal', that people would have responded to that."
Yeah, we responded to that in the 70's. It would have been nice if he had done something about it when he was sipping iced tea with the Red Chinese. But Bill Clinton can't run for President again so he comes right out and says what other Democrats won't:
"Climate change is more remote than terror but a more profound threat to the future of the children and the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren I hope all of you have...
News story, or Gore 2008 press release? At first glance it was hard to tell, but . . . wait! Yup, there it is: (Reuters). So yes, this is cold, hard reporting of just-the-facts, ma'am. Then again, consider the opening paragraphs:
Al Gore brushes aside talk of another run for the U.S. presidency and wages a new campaign to protect the Earth that he says must be won.
The former Democratic vice president sounds the alarm as a citizen activist armed with his old slide show turned into a Hollywood movie about the threat of global warming.
It's not enough for "DaVinci Code" star Ian McKellen to make cracks about Bible disclaimers. MRC's Michael Chapman passed along that in an interview with Reuters, he took his wisecracks directly to the Catholic Church:
“When I put the book down I thought, ’what a load of potential codswallop .That’s still going on in my mind. But I’m very happy to believe that Jesus was married.”
Sir Ian, who came out as gay in 1988 during a Radio 4 discussion programme, continued: “I know that the Catholic church has problems with gay people and I thought that this was absolute truth that Jesus was not gay.”
I'm sorry, but this really makes me furious. Reuters, after five years and Osama Bin Laden's videotaped admission, still uses locutions like this to decribe the 9/11 attacks:
U.S. authorities have said five al Qaeda hijackers seized control of American Airlines Flight 77, a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia bound for Los Angeles, and flew it into the Pentagon.
Reuters reported a startling scientific find on Wednesday that certainly brings into question the current hysteria surrounding global warming (hat tip to Drudge): “Climate shifts were probably responsible for the extinction of the mammoth and other species more than 10,000 years ago, not over-hunting by humans, according to new research published on Wednesday.”
How does this fit into the global warming debate? Well, according to Dr. Dale Guthrie of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, “‘The new patterns of dates indicate a radical ecological sorting during a uniquely forage-rich transitional period, affecting all large mammals, including humans.’"
And what happened during this "ecological sorting":
In this AP article is an ironic twist of Sophoclean proportions. An Israeli company has cut off - get this - gasoline supplies to the Iranian-funded Palestinian territories for non-payment of bills:
An end to fuel supplies could cripple hospitals, halt food deliveries and keep people home from work - a devastating scenario for an economy already ravaged by Israeli and international sanctions.
Right. The "economy" has been "ravaged" by Israeli sanctions. It's nothing whatever to do with the fact that Arafat and his friends - and that includes the current President, the Holocaust-denying, walking Hamas assassination target, Mahmoud Abbas - have spent the last fifteen years shipping everything that's not nailed down (and if they can pry it loose, it's not nailed down) out of the country. Which, as of the last AP report, was the reason that Hamas got elected in the first place, not their hostility to Israel, if you remember.
Reuters reports that in a survey of ten countries, citizens of the U.S. and England have a low regard for the media.
Britain may have a sophisticated media industry but it also has some of the most sceptical consumers, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believing the media does not report all sides of the story.
A 10-country opinion poll for Reuters, the BBC and the Media Centre found British and U.S. consumers out on a limb when it comes to public levels of trust in the media.
Overall trust in the media in Britain has bounced back over the past four years, from a low of 29 percent trusting in 2002 to 47 percent today. But this is still below the 10-country average of 63 percent.
Reuters organized a panel discussion between a blogger, journalists, and a U.S. military spokesman. They couldn't agree on much, except that the coverage of Iraq is either too positive or too negative.
U.S. media coverage of Iraq is too polarized between "good news" and "bad news" and all sides are missing out on a complete picture, participants in a panel discussion organized by Reuters said on Wednesday.
That was one of the few points of agreement between journalists, a professional blogger and a U.S. military spokesman gathered in New York to discuss media in Iraq.
"If you write a 'good news' story from Iraq you are immediately identified as an apologist for the administration ... and if you write something critical then you're in the other camp," said Roger Cohen, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune who was recently in Iraq.
Today's starters: Keeping with its tradition of political fairness and neutrality, Middle Tennessee State University is continuing its journalism conference (conference called: Self-Inflicted Wounds — Fact and Fiction in Journalism: Fabrication, Plagiarism and Confidential Sources)--kicked off earlier this week by an address from that paragon of objectivity Al Gore--with a panel discussion featuring Mary Mapes. The session is entitled "Rush to Judgment? The CBS Crisis." Any NB readers in the area?
The big media story of the day, as reported earlier by NB's Mark Finkelstein, is that Katie Couric is headed over to CBS. The NYT and LAT both have good good stories the deal and its implications. Why does Couric's leaving warrant attention, asks one blogger. Another says she won't watch "Today" if it hires "View" co-host Meredith Viera.