Friday, December 01, 2006

AP: All the News That Fits the Script

The Iraqi Government is fed up with being lied about. They’re tired of a biased press that’s helping to incite violence. At the end of the day, a fabrication by AP is a step further and more cretinous than the filtering of reports to announce violence in Iraq in a one-sided manner: reporting the parties involved only when it serves the world-view of the press staff itself.

AP has resorted to buying any line if there is anything that seems like a source without vetting it to the standards it would have if the outcome didn’t support a preconceived notion of theirs’, in this case one that is provoking internecine violence in a young politically fragile Iraq which would otherwise have potential to grow into the kind of society these reporters want for themselves outside the middle east. When all else fails invent a source:

Khalaf explained the news monitoring unit at a weekly Ministry of Interior briefing. As an example, he cited coverage by The Associated Press of an attack Nov. 24 on a mosque in the Hurriyah district in northwest Baghdad.

The AP reported that six Sunni Muslims there were burned alive during the attack. The story quoted witnesses and police Capt. Jamil Hussein.

Khalaf said the ministry had no one on its staff by the name of Jamil Hussein.

"Maybe he wore an MOI (Ministry of Interior) uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money," Khalaf said.

AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll rejected the accusation. "The implication that we may have given money to the captain is false. The AP does not pay for information," she said.

Khalaf said the ministry had dispatched a team to the Hurriyah neighborhood and to the morgue but found no witnesses or evidence of burned bodies.
The arrogance and selfishness is not alarming, but staggering nonetheless with large knock-on effects over the course of the past 3 years. BizzyBlog has an admission:
AP now admits that the part of the original story about four mosques burning is down to one that is “badly damaged by explosives and shows signs of scorching from fire.” I am not aware of any formal correctons sent out to AP subscribers to correct this stunning error.

No name identification of the remaining five alleged victims has been done. A person from AP who called me back in response to my phone request to speak with John Daniszewski, and my message left for him (my message was left with a person, not on his VoiceMail), confirmed this fact this afternoon. I informed this person that I was having a hard time believing that in roughly six days, some local Iraqi news outlet hadn’t published the names of the victims yet (that is, if there are really five other victims). I was told they’re “doing all they can.”
A brief look into a brief exchange between the CENTCOM’s press liason and an AP reacting like an adolescent says it all:
As is often the case, it's hard to sort out who's right. But Memmott does a public service by reproducing in full a letter to the AP from Lt. Michael Dean, U.S. Navy public affairs officer, and the response from the AP's international editor, John Daniszewski. Click on the link atop this item to read the letters in full, along with Memmott's more detailed account. But what got our attention was the tone of the two letters. Here's an excerpt from LT Dean's:

Unless you have a credible source to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum, acknowledging that the source named in the story is not who he claimed he was.

Here's part of the AP's response:

The Associated Press denounces unfounded attacks on its story about six Sunni worshipers burned to death outside their mosque on Friday, November 24. 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.

So the military makes a "respectful request," to which the AP responds by "denouncing unfounded attacks" and calling criticism of its reporting "frankly ludicrous" and accusing its critics of "desperation."
Isn’t it charming how committed AP is to “truthiness” to support a stance on the facts?

No comments: