NB contributor Bob Owens has a great piece over at Pajamas Media on how he helped spot yet another instance of the Western press getting snookered by a fake news story promulgated by terrorists in Iraq. Once again, the media's desire to portray Iraq as a total disaster let them get tricked:
On Thursday, June 28, The Associated Press—and to a lesser extent, Reuters, and a small independent Iraqi news agency—ran stories claiming that 20 decapitated bodies had been found on or near the banks of the Tigris River in Um al-Abeed, a village near Salman Pak, southeast of Baghdad.
By 8:10, Thursday morning, I’d fired off the first of a series of queries to Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) Public Affairs and current and former liaisons with the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) Public Affairs Office, asking what they knew of this claim. I was immediately suspect because of the dubious sourcing prominently noted in one version of the original Associated Press story:The dead — all men aged 20 to 40 years old — had their hands and legs bound, and some of the heads were found next to the bodies, the officers said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. The bodies were found in the Sunni Muslim village of Um al-Abeed, near the city of Salman Pak, which lies 14 miles southeast of Baghdad. One of the police officers is based in Baghdad and the other in Kut, 100 miles southeast of the capital. The Baghdad officer said he learned of the discovery because Iraq’s Interior Ministry, where he works, sent troops to the village to investigate. The Kut officer said he first heard the report through residents of the Salman Pak area.
Some other versions of the story (indeed, the most common variation) carried by American and international media outlets buried the distant locations of the two anonymous police sources six paragraphs further down in the story, under an account of a bus station bombing in Baghdad.
One can only guess why the Associated Press saw fit to distance the claim from the location of the sources, and only the editors at Fox News saw and corrected the Associated Press story to correctly pair the paragraphs stating the claimed mass beheading and the distant location of the story’s anonymous “police” sources.