Posted by Curt on 3 December, 2006 at 9:22 pm. 19 comments already!

The New York Times has a new article out tomorrow in which they skewer blogs for having the audacity to question them:

For bloggers who believe that the media has been drawing false pictures of mayhem in Iraq, the insistence of the American military and Iraqi officials that the burning incident appeared to be a mere rumor was proof that their suspicions were correct.

“Getting the News From the Enemy” was how the Flopping Aces blog (floppingaces.net) tracked the developing face-off between the military and A.P.

Iraq’s interior ministry wielded the article like a bludgeon and used it as an opportunity to create a press monitoring unit that suggested, in no uncertain terms, that reporters in Baghdad should come to its press officers for “real, true news.” A ministry spokesman promised “legal action” — whatever that might mean — against journalists who publish information the agency deemed wrong.

That may seem patently absurd.

Now that my friends is called spin.  The Iraqi’s set up a unit so that the press could be assured that the official spokesmen that these reporters like to quote so much are in fact who they say they are.  What’s absurd is the notion that this wrong and somehow restricting their freedoms.  Is it too much to ask that the media quote REAL police officers?

The international editor of the A.P., John Daniszewski, said in a statement Tuesday that the military’s questioning of the original sourcing on the article was “frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question.”

Mr. Daniszewski added that A.P. was nonetheless re-reporting the incident, and the agency had sent its reporters back to the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad, where they found several additional witnesses who not only corroborated the original report, but gave exhaustive details of a day of bedlam, for a second article that hit the wires Tuesday afternoon. The initial report came out Friday, Nov. 24.

The second article included recollections of the hour — between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m. — and of militiamen using rocket-propelled grenade launchers to blast open the front of a mosque; of six men being dragged out, blindfolded, handcuffed and lined in the street; and of a 1.3-gallon canister being used to douse the men with kerosene. They were then set ablaze, The Associated Press’s witnesses recalled, allowed to writhe and suffer, and then ultimately shot, once each, in the head. Residents said they buried the bodies after a prolonged gun battle with the attackers.

Yeah, so ludicrous that they still cannot prove to anyone that Capt. Jamil Hussein is a living breathing person because we sure the hell know that he is no police Capt.  Is ludicrous that the AP even expects us to swallow this crap.  The author of this article fails to note that when the reporters went back they found 3 witnesses, all unnamed.  How convenient.  It’s also convenient that the bodies are already buried.  It’s convenient that even the family members of the supposed dead can’t be found.  All they have is 3 unnamed witnesses, 1 witness who recanted, and a imaginary police Captain.

And we’re being ludicrous.

As The Associated Press reminded everyone in September, the Pentagon is not without its own public relations agenda. It awarded a $12 million, two-year contract to the Lincoln Group, a public relations firm in Washington, to keep tabs on English and Arabic media sources and produce “public-relations-type products” for American forces in Iraq, A.P. reported. This is the same company that was found last year to be buying positive coverage in Iraqi newspapers as part of an American military operation.

Here we go, he pulls out the military propaganda angle.  Puhlease! 

There are also important questions that can be raised about the steps taken by Iraq’s interior ministry to control reporting on the streets, to steer journalists toward “official” channels of information, and to threaten those who seek independent sources.

Yeah, why would we want our media to be sure they are talking to a real live police officer instead of some insurgent.  If you want to quote the insurgent, fine….but label him as such dammit.

And finally, as horrible as the alleged events in Hurriyah were, caches of dumped dead bodies are turning up in neighborhoods almost weekly, car bombs rip through markets and waiting lines and the death toll for American soldiers is approaching 3,000. No one is disputing those accounts.

Uh, hello….yes we have.  Many have already noted that the sources for those stories are the same ones on the suspect list of insurgent stringers.

Whatever the agenda of the bloggers most interested in debunking the article, it somehow seems important to figure out why this incident — in the face of all the killings in Iraq — remains in such dispute.

The agenda is to force our MSM to own up to their partisan and biased reporting…..period.

Is it me or did this whole article smell of arrogant smugness?  As if they are a bit pissed that us little peons DARED to question them.

UPDATE

And the response from bloggers has started. 

Patterico’s Pontifications:

The piece also says that, accoring to the AP’s executive editor, “the agency had already done all it could to respond to the uncertainties by vigorously re-reporting the article . . . .” The author of the New York Times piece seems to agree. Apparently it never occurred to either of these stellar journalists that there is, in fact, one thing the AP could do — but, notably, hasn’t. And that is to produce Jamil Hussein.

Newsbusters:

We’ve been down this road before. Mainstream media efforts to minimize the Reutersgate scandal during the Lebanon/Hezbollah war mean that most Americans aren’t even aware that deadly serious concerns about the accuracy of major news service accounts have arisen. And they don’t know that it was bloggers who forced Reuters to withdraw all ten years of Adnan Hajj’s photographs.

Michelle Malkin:

Why is it that the "agenda" of the bloggers–finding out the truth–somehow seems so alien and suspicious to Zeller and his colleagues? Imagine! Bloggers who want to know whether what the media reported is true! Questions about witness recantations, anonymous reporters, false reporting about the mosque torchings, still-unsubstantiated claims about the six burning Sunnis and the existence, identity, and employment of Captain Jamil Hussein remain. Zeller’s article also glosses over one of the most important matters raised in the blogosphere: the reliance of the "venerable, trusted" Western press on unknown, unidentified foreign stringers in the Middle East.

Hot Air:

Which part is most offensive? The vaguely puzzled, “fake but accurate” overtones of that last paragraph? The aspersion cast on the military’s credibility vis-a-vis a news outlet that employs jihadi paparazzo Bilal Hussein? The indignation at the thought of Iraqi stringers feeling cowed by the government into slanting their coverage without a glimmer of awareness that they might already be slanting it the other way out of sectarian fear or sympathy? Or the fact that he glosses over the real worry here, that a “venerable, trusted news agency” might have committed fraud, to fret about people failing to distinguish real news from fake — and then acts defensive and disingenuous when a group of (conservative) bloggers try to make that very distinction?

Outside The Beltway:

Given that AP has had numerous problems with international stringers in recent months, one would think they would turn over ever stone to answer these questions. Plenty of once-venerable, once-trusted institutions have lost their credibility with repeated violations of their trust.

BizzyBlog:

Sorry, Mr. Zeller, AP, et al. Just off the top of my head, I am “legitimately curious” why “Jamil Hussein” stays in the shadows, why no one can name or produce the five of six who allegedly died, why the morgue is said to have no records of these deaths, why no one can find any relatives of the five to talk to, and why there is apparently no local news coverage naming the dead to cite. And I am “legitimately curious” as to why an allegedly “venerable, trusted” news agency that can’t or won’t answer these simple questions has any right to claim more credibility than the military, where people who commit dishonest acts receive disciplinary action instead of Pulitzers.

Blue Crab Boulevard:

The "mad blog rabble" would be more than happy with accurate reporting instead of what is supposed to be a respected news organization mindlessly regurgitating enemy propaganda. Notice how the AP tries to stifle even the Times’ reporting, though? Interesting, is it not?

7.62mm Justice:

There have been terrorist organization who have claimed that they are using our news outlets against us. Could it be that the use of native Iraqis is part of the problem? Could it be that some of the native Iraqis have an agenda of their own, perhaps even a terrorist agenda?

Ace of Spades HQ:

The Times does not mention the phantom police captain Jamil Hussein — at all. It gives the reader no heads-up about a key source who might very well be lying even about his occupation, nor does it mention that the AP seems on very shaky ground here. They’ve interviewed new (unnamed) witnesses, but can produce no proof Hussein is who he says he is — and the Iraq Ministry of the Interior says he’s not on the payroll.

Little Green Footballs:

These people really do seem to think they’re a priestly class, immune to criticism, existing on some rarefied plane from which they hand down truth to the ungrateful masses.

A quote from Frank Zappa seems appropriate: “Your whole attitude stinks, I say, and the life you lead is completely empty.”

But isn’t it interesting that Zeller inexplicably forgets to mention in his article what he reported in the Times “blog” on December 1—that the NYT’s own Iraqi correspondent was unable to corroborate the AP’s reports?

UPDATE II

This silly article comes on the heels of today’s AP report in which they detail how hard they tried to get in touch with the enemy.  Why?  Well I guess getting their stringers in Iraq to give them fake news didn’t work out so well so why not travel to Syria:

The interview with the man who identified himself as Abu Mohammed came after repeated efforts by The Associated Press to make contact in Syria with supporters of the insurgency in Iraq.

UPDATE III 0915hrs PST

Michelle and Hot Air both brought up this email that the writer of this NYT’s article received from a NYT’s reporter in Baghdad:

Hi Tom, You ask me about what our own reporting shows about this incident. When we first heard of the event on Nov. 24, through the A.P. story and a man named Imad al-Hashemi talking about it on television, we had our Iraqi reporters make calls to people in the Hurriya neighborhood. Because of the curfew that day, everything had to be done by phone. We reached several people who told us about the mosque attacks, but said they had heard nothing of Sunni worshippers being burned alive. Any big news event travels quickly by word of mouth through Baghdad, aided by the enormous proliferation of cell phones here. Such an incident would have been so abominable that a great many of the residents in Hurriya, as well as in other Sunni Arab districts, would have been in an uproar over it. Hard-line Sunni Arab organizations such as the Muslim Scholars Association or the Iraqi Islamic Party would almost certainly have appeared on television that day or the next to denounce this specific incident. Iraqi clerics and politicians are not shy about doing this. Yet, as far as I know, there was no widespread talk of the incident. So I mentioned it only in passing in my report. Best, Ed Wong

Which he mentions only in passing and does not even mention his own reporter had doubts about the story. Why? So that he could back up another fellow news organization and bash bloggers? If your really out for the truth then at least acknowledge that email in full instead of printing:

Meanwhile, little in the way of fallout over the event itself has been detected — no outcry, no heated, televised denunciations from Sunni clerics and politicians — as might be expected from what The Associated Press itself called “one of the most horrific alleged attacks of Iraq’s sectarian war.” And so questions lingered and the blogs raged on.

Does he acknowledge that the LACK of an outcry from clerics and politicians is a sign this thing is a fraud? No, instead we get "and the blogs rage on" meme….

A sure sign that the MSM is in a circle the wagons mode.

This may be a good time to check out this new book by Jim A. Kuypers, assistant professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, called Bush’s War: Media Bias and Justifications for War in a Terrorist Age:

Convincingly and without resorting to partisan politics, Kuypers strongly illustrates in eight chapters “how the press failed America in its coverage on the War on Terror.” In each comparison, Kuypers “detected massive bias on the part of the press.” In fact, Kuypers calls the mainstream news media an “anti-democratic institution” in the conclusion.

“What has essentially happened since 9/11 has been that Bush has repeated the same themes, and framed those themes the same whenever discussing the War on Terror,” said Kuypers, who specializes in political communication and rhetoric. “Immediately following 9/11, the mainstream news media (represented by CBS, ABC, NBC, USA Today, New York Times, and Washington Post) did echo Bush, but within eight weeks it began to intentionally ignore certain information the president was sharing, and instead reframed the president’s themes or intentionally introduced new material to shift the focus.”

This goes beyond reporting alternate points of view. “In short,” Kupyers explained, “if someone were relying only on the mainstream media for information, they would have no idea what the president actually said. It was as if the press were reporting on a different speech.”

Buy it here.

UPDATE IV 1005hrs PST

Hot Air has the video of Jules Crittenden being interviewed on Fox News this morning. 

[flv:crittenden.flv 400 300]

No mention of my blog, just "some bloggers", but I forgive him.  I am interested in getting the larger point of this whole incident out into the world.  The larger point being that our MSM uses obviously biased frauds to print a unsubstantiated story.  All so a sense of chaos and destruction invades the American homes

UPDATE V 1430hrs PST

A reader commented about one little factoid in this latest NYT’s piece that I overlooked:

The second article included recollections of the hour — between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m. — and of militiamen using rocket-propelled grenade launchers to blast open the front of a mosque; of six men being dragged out, blindfolded, handcuffed and lined in the street; and of a 1.3-gallon canister being used to douse the men with kerosene. They were then set ablaze, The Associated Press’s witnesses recalled, allowed to writhe and suffer, and then ultimately shot, once each, in the head. Residents said they buried the bodies after a prolonged gun battle with the attackers.

Dogstar left this comment:

Note also the "eyewitnesses" claimed a "1.3 gallon container" was used to douse six men. Assuming the container was full and all of it ended up on the men (no spills), that’s only one-sixth of a gallon of fuel per man.

About half a quart.

How exactly does one completely burn a man with half a quart of fuel?

The "victims were allowed to writh".

You mean, like, rolling on the ground? Wouldn’t that extinguish the flames from the small amount of fluid?

How exactly does a witness know that a 1.3 gallon container was used?  Don’t they use the metric system in Iraq?  I’m asking because I do not know.  But lets say this amount is accurate, half a quart per person.  That’s like one splash of gasoline…this is enough to set a person completely ablaze?

Unnamed witnesses.  One fraudalent witness.  One witness who recanted.  No bodies.  No family members of the victims found.  No evidence of burned bodies on the street such as clothing.  No outcry from local clerics and politicians.  Now it looks like the supposed amount of gasoline is called into question.

But who are we to question the media right?

UPDATE VI 1900hrs PST

Ron from Rockets Brain Trust sent me this comment from a moonbat which encapsulates the leftist mode of thinking.  Sure, the news may be making stuff up but as long as it ensures that their goals succeed then they are all good with it:

Do you realize that you and Flopping Faces and Malkin and Powerline, Little Green Snotballs, Instacracker and the rest of the warbloggers out in the fever swamps are truly making a difference?

Yes. Unfortunately, it’s probably not what you all intended unless by "difference" you’re ok with it meaning "source of mocking and amusement" or "what happens when tinfoil overheats."

However, for the sake of argument, I’m willing to concede the point that the AP is either accidentally or purposefully printing anti-war lies about Iraq in order to continue to foment the American public’s revulsion and anger about a civil war that may or may not be happening.

See, here’s the thing – I’m totally cool with that. The sooner we get out of their the better. Cut and run? Hell yah!

And if it means we’re more likely in the future to use diplomacy or non-violent sanctions, or god forbid, isolationism, to deal with tinpotted dictators in their stupid medieval nations…then WAY COOL.

I hope we read stories about hideously vile and evil events in Iraq every day if it means we leave. If they are made up all the better. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are. But either way, we can stop trying to demonize Islamics into horrid heartless violent killing machines intent on forming a New Caliphate and subjugating all that we hold dear and holy.

And there you go.  MSM lie all you want as long as it gets them what they want.  I wonder what they would say if it ensured the exact opposite of what they want happened.  You think the moonbats would be upset about this fake news?

Other’s Blogging:

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