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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

AP Hoping This Goes Away--It Isn't Going to Happen

The AP's handling of the "burning six" situation has been beyond absurd and their credibility is slowly eroding away because their hopes that making a statement, that in effect said, we reported it, so therefore it is true, isn't going to cut it and it is being noticed more and more as questions are asked and AP is unable to answer them.

Curt at Flopping Aces did a wonderful job in exposing the AP's faulty reporting methods and sources. Michelle Malkin has also done quite a bit to make sure that this received the exposure it deserves. It has taken much too long, the damage done by the AP, not only in this instance, but now in every instance that their "source" the fake Capt. Jmil Hussen was involved. Fake source, or simply a liar about who he is, discredits every word he has fed the AP in every story that they have used him as their source.

Jules Crittenden did a wonderful piece in the Boston Herald also.

Because of this faulty reporting the Examiner has now also picked up the ball in this article called "How to end the AP's '60 minutes moment' on Iraq sources".

You've probably not read much about it because only a handful of mainstream media outlets have covered it, but the Associated Press - for decades America's largest and most trusted wire news service - is at the center of a credibility crisis largely of its own making.

You probably have heard of the AP story that started it - a horrifying dispatch from Iraq the day after Thanksgiving claiming that six Sunnis had been doused with kerosene as they left their mosque following Friday prayers and burned alive by Shiite-aligned militiamen.

The story, which was quickly picked up by virtually every major news organization in the world, also claimed that "the Shiite-dominated police and Iraqi military" stood by doing nothing as the six people were gruesomely murdered. The story was sourced to "police Captain Jamil Hussein."

The problem is there appears to be no such person as Captain Jamil Hussein, at least not who is employed by the Iraqi police. The U.S. military says Hussein doesn't exist and has demanded that AP issue a correction. The Iraqi government says no such person is on its police payroll.

Things have gotten progressively worse for AP since those initial questions about "Hussein" were raised by U.S. and Iraqi officials. A firestorm of criticism has exploded in the Blogosphere as bloggers have researched the names of more than a dozen Iraqi- named sources of apparently doubtful credibility that have appeared in AP stories.

The suggestion among many of the bloggers is that AP is being had by Iraqis aligned with the insurgency who are posing as credible sources and are using the world's most respected wire news service to project to the world a flawed image of the conflict in Iraq.

AP’s response was initially to accuse its critics of having disreputable agendas. Then the news wire sent two as-yet unidentified reporters back to the scene of the alleged burning and turned up additional sources claiming to have witnessed the murders. AP also says it has verified Hussein's credibility and its reporters have talked with him in his office, with him dressed in his Iraqi police uniform.

Like so many other news organizations, AP believes it must rely upon Iraqi stringers because there is simply too much danger to risk sending its American regular staff reporters outside Bagdhad's Green Zone. Middle Eastern terrorists groups have a history of taking AP reporters hostage, including Terry Anderson, who spent nearly seven years in captivity in Lebanon.

AP further suggested the critics are trying to force the wire service to rely only on official government sources when doing so would compromise the credibility of its reporting.


What AP appears not to grasp is that the most serious questions about its credibility are already in the minds of millions of people, thanks in part to the bloggers, but also to the few mainstream media organizations that have covered the growing controversy.

What is most puzzling about the AP reaction is its failure to do the one thing that would instantly put the critics in their place - produce Capt. Jamil Hussein. If he is in fact an Iraqi police captain, it is impossible to understand why he cannot be produced and his credentials verified.

"Captain Jamil Hussein" is but one of 14 Iraqi-sounding names of sources quoted by AP that U.S. military officials say cannot be verified as credible sources.

The present controversy over AP's source was preceded by the "fauxtography" scandal earlier this year when U.S. bloggers unmasked a Reuters stringer/photographer who was staging and doctoring "news" photos during the Hezbollah war against Israel from Lebanon.

Read the rest....

The AP has brought about this distrust by reporting information that cannot be verified by any other reputable news orginization and by standing by bad reporting methods.

In fact there is doubt within other media that the incident even happened.

As I mentioned yesterday the New York Times reported Ed Wong could NOT verify the story either as noted in his email:

Ed was unable to substantiate the burning incident for his Saturday story. Here’s how he described his reporting on that day, in an e-mail to us this afternoon:

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.

Edward Wong
Then we have the Iraqi's who have also made mention about this credibility issue as witnessed by Sciri Leader Hakim's remarks:

The Iraqi situation has been subjected to a great deal of defamation, and the true picture is not being presented in order to show a dark side of what's happening in Iraq. We see the attempts to defame and distort the situation in Iraq not taking into consideration the democratic steps that that country has taken, writing the constitution and establishing a state that depends heavily on the constitution, that it is unified and that it is strong. There are attempts to show the sectarian strife in an attempt to weaken the position in Iraq.

All in all, if the AP is goingto simply continue to hope and pary this will go away...they are sadly isn't going away and their refusal to produce Jamil Hussein and put this to bed, is going to bring into doubt every story they write.

Others discussing this:
Michelle Malkin, Confederate Yankee, Blue Crab Boulevard, Winds of Change.NET, Media Blog, Daily Pundit, and Bill Hobbs

Related: Supporting Enemy Propaganda--NYT,
About time Somebody Called Their Hand, Liberals Would Rather Hear Lies than Truth, Reporters Source in Iraq Proven False, Enemy Propaganda from our Media, Putting the Brakes on the Media Spreading Propaganda, Enemy Propaganda Update.