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Sunday, December 03, 2006

About Time Somebody Called Their Hand

The recent work of some of the conservative bloggers have exposed a problem with the mainstream media that is finally starting to be noticed. As
Jules Crittenden writes in the Boston Herald, the rock has been lifted and what came crawling out was the AP.

The Associated Press is embroiled in a scandal. Conservative bloggers, the new media watchdogs, lifted a rock at the AP.

Curt at Floppingaces,, led the charge. He thought there was something strange about an AP report, and took a second look at it, then a third look. He and others blew the lid off it. The AP is making up war crimes. But the resulting stink in the blogosphere has barely wrinkled a nose in the mainstream press. The ethics-obsessed Poynter Institute seems to be oblivious to it.

It has to do with the AP’s Iraqi stringers and an oft-quoted Iraqi police captain named Jamil Hussein. Problem is, the Iraqi police say Capt. Hussein does not exist. The Iraqi police and U.S. military say an incident described in an AP report - Iraqi soldiers standing by as people were burned alive in a mosque - didn’t happen. Another AP-reported incident, U.S. soldiers shooting 11 civilians, also never happened, the military says.

When the AP was forced to acknowledge this situation, it did so in a story about a new Interior Ministry policy regarding false reports. The AP buried the fact that its own false report prompted this new policy.

Rumor should never be reported as news and it brings up a number of other questions too.

As was pointed out in an email to me and a few others this morning, why is the mainstream media ignoring all the Centcom releases that come out daily? Why is yahoo news or google news not reporting "all" the information, all the verifiable stories and simply relying on those coming from Reuters and AP. Reuters has its own share of blame for the same problem as was witnessed by their "doctored" photos in the Israel/Hizbullah conflict.

Then we have the liberal bloggers and why they are not insisting on the truth from AP, Reuters and all the other mainstream media? Is it as simple as some suggest, that as long as the propaganda coming out fits into their "views" then they do not care that they are being lied to? Or is it deeper than that? Only they can answer that, yet they are strangely silent. A few have actually defended the AP against the indefensible.

The Boston Herald article also points out how the AP, who is so anxious to get their reports out, not only are not verifying their sources but they are actually burying the real truth when it is about one of their own.

The AP has another Iraqi stringer problem. Photographer Bilal Hussein is in U.S. custody, and the AP has been clamoring indignantly for his release. AP reports have buried the U.S. explanation that Hussein is being held without charge because - quite aside from producing photos that showed him to be overly intimate with terrorists in Fallujah - he was in an al-Qaeda bomb factory, with an al-Qaeda bombmaker, with traces of explosives on his person when he was arrested.

So, what IS taking the mainstream media so much time to catch up with this story, Glenn Beck has mentioned it on his show, the New York Times has finally reported on it, but why has it taken this long? It is news after all.

....the power of blogs is exponential; blog posts can be linked and replicated instantly across the Web, creating a snowball effect that often breaks through to the mainstream media. Moreover, blogs have a longer shelf life than most traditional news media articles. A newspaper reporter's original article is likely to disappear from the free Web site after a few days and become inaccessible unless purchased from the newspaper's archives, while the blogger's version of events remains available forever.

....Reporters say that these developments are forcing them to change how they do their jobs; some are asking themselves if they can justify how they are filtering information. "We've got to be more transparent about the news-gathering process," said Craig Crawford, a columnist for Congressional Quarterly and author of "Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media." "We've pretended to be like priests turning water to wine, like it's a secret process. Those days are gone."

Hyscience points out that if the MSM is not going to report accurately, there are other options and it seems many are turning to those.

Is there a remedy for the MSM? As for a significant step toward "getting it right," the MSM should recognize what Jules Crittenden pointed out in his article; newspapers don't have an alternative, but readers do. It's called the Internet. That's why newspapers (and the rest of the MSM don't want to be dragged further into irrelevance and disrepute, they have to tell the source of their articles, most often The Associated Press, that they are dissatisfied with its product, and make damned sure that their own original material is accurate and unbiased.

On Jules Crittenden's blog he does ask a valid question, now that the conservative bloggers have brought this matter about the AP into the open, and the AP,with their lies, have forced the hand of the MOI to institute a policy of holding the media accountable for false reports, are we, as bloggers going to be just as tenacious in holding the MOI accountable for any abuses of this new policy?

If we do not, then we are no better than the liberal bloggers who have been strangely silent about the AP abuses of their powers. We cannot have our cake and eat it too. If we insist on holding one responsible, we must be prepared to be fair.

Others discussing this:
In From the Cold.
Don Surber.
Blue Crab Boulevard.
Prairie Pundit.

Keep up with who is discussing this at memeorandum.