Mickey Kaus, the iconoclastic Democrat who loves picking on Democrats, points to this posting from Lt. Col. Bateman, which asks many pertinent and justified questions about a suspicious Associated Press story about six Sunnis burned to death and four mosques destroyed in the Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriya.
The AP doubled down on the story's veracity (though other press outlets, including Al Jazeera, have yet to confirm it) and insisted the story's main source, Iraqi police captain Jamil Hussein, does in fact exist.
The AP laced its defense with a brash attack on the military from AP International Editor John Daniszewski:
"The attempt to question the existence of the known police officer who spoke to the AP is frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question."
Lt. Col Robert Bateman posted a fresh account of the story Thursday at the liberal Media Matters web site, respectfully dissenting from a AP-defending column from MM columnist Eric Boehlert.
Here's a sample of Boehlert:
"I don't think it's out of bounds to suggest that warbloggers want journalists to venture into exceedingly dangerous sections of Iraq because warbloggers want journalists to get killed."
Before getting into convincing detail about why he thinks the AP's "Sunni burning" reporting is dubious, Bateman lays out his general concerns:
"What I do not like is gross inaccuracy, and particularly obfuscation to cover the same. What I detest the most is a cover-up with a bodyguard of counter-accusations to misdirect those who are interested. Now, all of you are free to discuss among yourselves how this process occurs with this political party or that one, or this major corporation or international body, or whatever. But what I believe I am seeing right now is that process appearing, again, in the media. Specifically, it's being pulled off by the Associated Press."
You can also read about Bateman's previous encounter with AP over its Pulitzer-winning story about the alleged massacre at No Gun Ri of South Korean civilians by U.S. troops during the Korean War (a tale called into serious question by the military historian Bateman as well as other journalists):
"Because of information I had uncovered about an AP story which dealt with an event of military history, information that revealed that the AP had been completely duped by at least one fraud (and perhaps as many as three), the AP was not happy with me. The AP would not admit that there were any problems, though, and insisted everything was just fine. They chose to counterattack rather than re-examine. When their efforts to coerce my boss into squelching me failed miserably, they contacted my publisher and tried to censor me that way. Again, they did all of this rather than admit that their story had serious problems. The irony of the largest news organization in all of human history attempting to silence an individual soldier is almost too much to believe."
Clay Waters covers the liberal bias of the New York Times at TimesWatch.