Remember when you were a kid and got caught telling a lie, but your excuse was that a pal "made you do it" and it was so hard to tell the truth anyway because of this reason or that? It didn't matter to your parents then, did it? Well, here we have Reuters revealing that they fell for a false story about 20 beheaded Iraqis that was planted by insurgents, but do they just admit it and take responsibility? No, they whine that it is "very hard" to get stories in Iraq because it is so dangerous for journalists there.
I can tell we are all rolling our eyes, aren't we?
On the 28th Reuters and the AP along with most major news sources recklessly reported that 20 beheaded bodies were found by "Iraqi Policemen" on the banks of the Tigris River near Salman Pak, 19 miles south of Baghdad.
I say recklessly because not one of these supposed professional news sources substantiated the story but merely accepted the "news" as fact with no corroboration. This is something we have seen dozens of times since we entered Iraq with these news services explaining away this breach of professional standards by saying that it is just too dangerous for journalists to be in those areas to do the leg work to make sure their stories are true before they publish them.
Reuters found out on the 30th that they'd been had.
BAGHDAD, June 30 (Reuters) - Media reports attributed to Iraqi police of 20 decapitated bodies found south of Baghdad this week were untrue and may have been planted by insurgents to provoke revenge attacks, the U.S. military said on Saturday.
Well, it's nice to see them admit they were made fools of... again. But the rest of this report is a litany of excuse making that befits the proverbial 10-year-old caught lying and blaming everyone and everything else for the lapse.
Even the title of the Reuters admission seems to deny the truth; "US says report of 20 beheaded bodies in Iraq false." It wasn't "report is false", but a more doubtful "US says" the report is false, as if it is just American officials' opinion and perhaps not really a fact that the beheaded bodies is a fantasy planted by insurgents.
Reuters at least gave the military a line to explain what really happened, an unusual action taken by Reuters who normally would not bother giving the military an opportunity to get their own side of the story out.
"(Insurgents) are known for purposefully providing false information to the media to incite violence and revenge killings, and they may well have been the source of this misinformation," the military said.
And, guess what? The media are quite happy to assist the insurgents in their goals to "incite violence and revenge killings" because we have repeatedly found that the MSM takes the word of our enemies far easier than they do that of our allies and our own authorities.
But Reuters has a reason, see. It's just so darn hard to report the real news. It's MUCH easier to just print what ever they are told third and fourth-hand without bothering to do any checking of the facts.
Verifying reports in Iraq is very hard for journalists, who have been systematically targeted by different militant groups and rely extensively on local sources for information.
And does this "danger" give them any insight into how our soldiers feel out there? Evidently not.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the danger they claim is not real. The last paragraph of this non-apology story reveals that the death toll for journalists and their assistants is high.
Paris-based press freedom advocates Reporters Without Borders estimate that over 180 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, making Iraq the most dangerous place in the world to report.
So, yes, they do face a real threat. But, is danger an excuse for total slipshod journalism? Is it better to just report anything you are told without checking facts, or better only to print what you have substantiated? Is printing a lie because it is safer the right thing to do?
Dangerous conditions is a legitimate reason not to report too many stories, granted. But dangerous conditions is NO excuse for throwing away all standards and printing just any old thing you are told as if it is fact.
But, then, these so-called journalists really don't care much for the truth. They accept the insurgents' propaganda because they so want those false stories to be true that checking the facts is not something they're too inclined to bother with much.
As the old saying goes, "Let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story."
Worse, this explaining away of their failure to live up to traditional and correct standards in reporting means they have no intention of changing this slipshod method of gathering the news. They have already given the excuse and they will simply continue to fall back on it in the future.
It's just "very hard", you know?
So, Reuters gets 10 points for admitting on the 30th that they printed lies on the 28th, but minus 20 points for spinning excuses instead of accepting responsibility and making efforts to be sure it doesn't happen again. And minus 100 points for being the knowing dupes of our enemies.