If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it – and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.
This controversy and the AP’s handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world’s biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.[…]But efforts by two governments, several news organizations, and bloggers have failed to produce such evidence or proof that there is a Captain Jamil Hussein. The AP cannot or will not produce him or convincing evidence of his existence.
It is striking that no one has been able to find a family member, friend, or colleague of Captain Hussein. Nor has the AP told us who in the AP’s ranks has actually spoken with Captain Hussein. Nor has the AP quoted Captain Hussein once since the story of the disputed episode.
Therefore, in the absence of clear and compelling evidence to corroborate the AP’s exclusive story and Captain Hussein’s existence, we must conclude for now that the AP’s reporting in this case was flawed.
To make matters worse, Captain Jamil Hussein was a key named source in more than 60 AP stories on at least 25 supposed violent incidents over eight months.
Until this controversy is resolved, every one of those AP reports is tainted.
When two governments challenge the veracity of your reporting, when there are reasonable doubts about whether your prime named source for a sensational exclusive story exists, when there’s no proof a reported horrific incident occurred, when the news outlet responsible for the disputed report stonewalls and is stridently defensive, when the validity of dozens of other of your reports has been called into question as a result, then that news organization has a scandal on its hands, and that is where the AP finds itself.
Having learned from my own successes and failures and those of others, I know that a journalistic scandal can be handled effectively only when the news organization’s management deals with it proactively, constructively, and transparently, with a readiness to admit any mistake, to apologize for it, and to take appropriate corrective action.
Has he really learned? Remains to be seen, but his call for the AP to accept responsibility is heartening. The AP needs to accept that their use of domestic stringers is NOT working. It may make them more money since they get all the blood and guts stories, but no one knows if these stories are true anymore. We get stories from them that detail 50+ bodies being dumped daily but when I confirm this via the Iraqi police I get a number that is 1/3rd that.
We get stories that detail men being burned alive, families being killed from airstrikes, and large amounts of bodies being dumped. None of it can be verified. They use these stringers and write these stories for one reason, and one reason only, to make it appear that Iraq is much worse then it really is.
Now with my post yesterday I detail another domestic reporter they have used for years with an obvious bias. This guy, Muhieddin Rashad, along with Qais al-Bashir, and Sameer N. Yacoub have all written many stories for the AP using sources that are either completely bogus or at least suspect.
NO story we get out of Iraq can be trusted anymore until the news services admit their mistakes and quit using these biased sources. Or, if using stringers then independently verify the story. Talk to family members of the victims, get pictures of the scene, in other words gather evidence as any good cop would.
And so it was more than a month after Hussein was compromised that I did what the Associated Press editorial process should have been doing the entire time: I began attempting to fact-check the claims made by Jamil Hussein. I took the list of 61 AP stories citing Hussein, opened my web browser to Google.com, and went to work.
In eight hours over three days last week, I tracked down online examples of the first 40 of 61 Associated Press stories citing Jamil Hussein, as replicated in news outlets and even official government press offices around the world. I then took keywords, dates, and phrases from the paragraphs citing Hussein, and attempted to find corroborating accounts from other news organizations.[…]The detailed results of my search are here. Knowing what I now know, I don’t think that the editorial processes of the Associated Press even put forth that paltry effort.
Put bluntly, a search for other news agency accounts of the events described by Jamil Hussein seems to indicate that most of these events simply do not exist anywhere else except in AP reporting. I was completely unable to find a definitive corroborating account of any of Jamil Hussein’s accounts, anywhere.[…]And yet, in 40 AP stories checked, only in two instances covering a total of four stories did I run into anything approaching possible corroboration.
But still to this day the AP refuses to acknowledge that they screwed up, and screwed up royally.
UPDATE 1515hrs PST
So I get back in and find that the AP’s spokesperson, Kathleen Carroll, has told the rest of us to stick it:
Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, told E&P today that she had not read Jordan’s latest item, posted Monday, and likely would not. But she stood by the news organization’s previous statements backing the existence of an Iraqi police captain, Jamail Hussein.
"I’ve been pretty public about what we have done to get to the crux of the criticism we have gotten about it," she added. When asked about critics’ demands that AP produce Hussein to prove his existence, she said "that area [where he works] has pretty much been ethnically cleansed, it is a nasty place and continues to be."
Carroll said that Hussein "is a guy we’ve talked to for years," adding that "we don’t have anything new to say about it, nothing new to add."
Linda Wagner, AP’s director of media relations and public affairs, said she had just seen Jordan’s post, but did not expect to have more to say about it. She said "it would be highly unusual for any news organization to provide sources on the demands of critics."
That is the purest example of arrogance I have seen coming from our MSM in sometime. She is basically telling the rest of us that they cannot be bothered providing any evidence that what they wrote actually happened, and in the same breath saying they cannot be bothered to look at any evidence that their story is untrue.
What the flying hell!
DON’’T E-MAIL me. . . . I don’t want to talk to you; I want to talk at you.
. . . .
I get that you have opinions you want to share. That’s great. You’re the Person of the Year. I just don’t have any interest in them.
. . . .
A lot of e-mail screeds argue that, in return for the privilege of broadcasting my opinion, I have the responsibility to listen to you. I don’t. No more than you have a responsibility to read me. I’m not an elected servant. I’m an arrogant, solipsistic, attention-needy freak who pretends to have an opinion about everything. I don’t have time to listen to you. I barely have time to listen to me.
And finally this sentence had me in stitches:
When asked about critics’ demands that AP produce Hussein to prove his existence, she said "that area [where he works] has pretty much been ethnically cleansed, it is a nasty place and continues to be."
Are you kidding me? They saw fit to give his WHOLE name, including the middle name, along with his rank and which station he works at currently and the one worked at previously but now they wont produce him because its dangerous for him?
Talk about digging yourself a bigger hole.
Pathetic with a capital P.
Armed Liberal at Winds of Change:
Here’s the problem, Ms. Carroll. We don’t believe he exists. If he doesn’t exist, much of your reporting from Iraq is subject to dispute. If your reporting from Iraq is subject to dispute, your credibility is pretty much blown apart – and I don’t know what else you have to sell.
As usual, Armed Liberal is right on target.
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