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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

We Have to Fight to Get to the Truth


Americans are well-aware of the bias laid on by the New York Times, the broadcast networks, CNN and the BBC, but the outright falsification of photographs by Reuters is absolutely shocking (perhaps shocking is the wrong word after CBS and Dan Rather falsified President Bush’s National Guard record in an attempt to influence the last presidential election; good riddance Dan Rather and Mary Mapes). If you look at my blogroll at the lower right, you will see I have removed Reuters from the list of news sources I automatically monitor. What good is a news source if it lies?

August 08, 2006
Media Manipulating the War News?
By Jack Kelly, Real Clear Politics

Reuters announced Sunday it was suspending its relationship with Adnan Hajj, a freelance photographer in Lebanon who had worked for the British news service since 1993, because he doctored a photograph on the aftermath of an Israeli air strike in south Beirut.

Mr. Hajj cloned the image of a plume of smoke rising from a bombed building, which made it appear the damage was more widespread than in fact it was.

The doctoring was discovered by Web logger Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs), the man who proved the memo then CBS anchor Dan Rather was relying on for his expose of President Bush's National Guard service had been typed on Microsoft Word, which did not exist at the time of the date on the memo.

In announcing the suspension, Reuters quoted its head of public relations, Moira Whittle, as saying: "The photographer has denied deliberately attempting to manipulate the image, saying that he was trying to remove dust marks and that he made mistakes due to the bad lighting conditions he was working under."

Perhaps Mr. Hajj also was attempting to remove dust marks when he cloned (twice) an image of a flare being dropped from an Israeli F-16 in a photo he took Aug. 2. The caption says, erroneously, that the F-16 was dropping bombs.

This doctoring was discovered by Web logger Rusty Shackleford (Jawa Report). After investigating Mr. Schackleford's charges, Reuters announced Monday it was withdrawing from its data base all 920 photographs Mr. Hajj took for them.

"There is no graver breach of Reuters' standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image," said Reuters global picture editor, Tom Szlukovenyi.

The cloning in the photographs was clumsy, which suggests that Mr. Hajj should not take all the blame for their distribution. What is the point of having photo editors if they cannot spot such obvious frauds?

This is especially so because another stringer for Reuters, Issam Kobeisi, may be involved in a staged photograph. Mr. Kobeisi transmitted July 22 a photo of a woman wailing outside the wreckage of what the caption said was her apartment building.
A British Web logger (Drinking From Home) noticed that on Aug. 5, AP photographer Hussein Malla transmitted a photo of the very same woman (she has a scar on her left cheek and a mark under her right eye) wailing in front of an entirely different bombed building. If she isn't the most unlucky multiple property owner in Beirut, then the photo most likely was staged.

What is significant about Mr. Hajj is not the two photographs Reuters admits he doctored, but the doubt it casts on the veracity of the other images he's transmitted.

Mr. Hajj was among those whose dramatic photos of dead children being pulled from the wreckage of a building the Israelis bombed in the village of Qana July 30 helped turn world opinion against Israel. Dr. Richard North, a British Web logger (EU Referendum), thinks these photographs were staged, because rescue workers clearly carrying the same corpse are wearing different gear in different photographs. The time stamps on the photos suggest they were taken hours apart, he said.

Other Web loggers have noted that while some of corpses allegedly retrieved from the site were covered with dust (as one would expect from a collapsed building), others were not. Some apparently were in rigor mortis; others not.

There have been questions about Qana the news media have made little effort to answer. The Israeli air force bombed the building at 1:00 a.m., but says it didn't collapse until around 8:00 a.m. This could have been a delayed reaction to the bombing; the result of secondary explosions (the Israelis thought Hezbollah was storing munitions in the building), or the product of demolition by Hezbollah.

If one assumes the collapse was the result of the bombing, one has to wonder why those inside made no effort to leave during the hours between the bombing and the building's fall, and those outside made no effort to rescue them.

A German newspaper (the Bild Zeitung) described "green helmet," a central figure in the Qana photographs I wrote about in my last column, as "a professional Hezbollah propaganda man."

This is a major scandal. Reuters has been transmitting Hezbollah propaganda. We need to know how much, whether photo editors were complicit, and what Reuters intends to do to keep this from happening again.

And if Mr. Hajj staged photographs at Qana, he wasn't alone. Stringers for AP and Agence France Press transmitted the same images.

It's often been said that truth is the first casualty in war. But it shouldn't be the news media that kills it.

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Jihad Journalism?
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Posted 8/7/2006

Media Bias: Need a little anti-war, anti-Semitic buck-up? Try some Reuters coverage. The British news outlet will be only too happy to oblige.

Over the weekend, a Reuters photographer was caught trying to make one of Israel's defensive attacks against Hezbollah in Lebanon look much more devastating than it was. The photo was eventually withdrawn and the photographer ostensibly fired.

The photo, an image of the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in Beirut, had apparently been altered to give the effect that the smoke was thicker and the damage worse than it was. The doctored version, credited to Adnan Hajj, a freelance Lebanese photographer, shows two heavy plumes of smoke where there was in fact but one.

Charles Johnson, whom we will return to later, is one of several bloggers who noted that some buildings were repeated in the altered photo as well.

Reuters' explanation? "Photo editing software was improperly used on this image. . . . We are sorry for any inconvenience."

An apology to clients is nice. But what about an apology to Israel for employing staff members who are trying to inflame world opinion against a nation that is already globally hated?

Here we return to Johnson of the Little Green Footballs blog. For his effort in pointing out the phoniness of the photograph, he got a warm message from a Reuters account that said: "I look forward to the day when you pigs get your throats cut."

The so-far-unidentified person used "zionistpig" as his or her e-mail address.
Another anti-Semitic misstep and another Reuters statement. This time the news service confirmed that, yes, "an employee has been suspended pending further investigation." The person "was not an employee of Reuters' news division," for whatever that's worth.

Johnson believes the threat might have come from Inayat Bunglawala, media secretary for the Muslim Council of Britain. He has declared that the British media are "Zionist controlled" and has written for the British Guardian Web site. If so, someone within Reuters conspired with Bunglawala to get the message to Johnson.
Just one episode, some might say. Means nothing. But there's a pattern:
• Thanks to the Powerline blog, we know that Reuters is either sloppy or has purposely used unaltered (we presume) photos to try, yet again, to cripple Israel's self-defense initiative by exaggerating the damage.

On July 24 Reuters issued a photo of a damaged area in Beirut with the explanation that it was the result of "Israeli attacks on a Hezbollah stronghold." Less than two weeks later, a photo dated Aug. 5 from the same damaged area but from a different angle shows a woman walking "past a building flattened during an overnight Israeli air raid on Beirut's suburbs August 5, 2006."


Buidings Supposedly bombed on July 24 (inserted by RussWilcox)


Buidings Supposedly bombed on August 5 (inserted by RussWilcox)

The photographer? Adnan Hajj, whose entire catalog of Reuters photos has been pulled by the news outlet. The agency also said it has "ended its relationship with Hajj."
• Reuters has not admitted to any doctoring of photos regarding the site of Israel's late July attack on Hezbollah in the Lebanese village of Qana. But the blogosphere is hot with charges that Reuters and others were duped by — or cooperated with — Hezbollah to stage the rescue and recovery of the Qana victims to stir up scorn for Israel.

The Reuters photographer this time? Hajj.
• Reuters has admitted that Hajj changed an image of an Israeli F-16 flying over Lebanon to make it appear the jet fighter dropped three flares rather than one.

• Fearing it will violate its commitment to accuracy and impartiality — which clearly are in question — Reuters refuses, as company policy, to use the word "terrorist" in news reports. Executives prefer that "individuals, organizations and governments . . . make their own decisions based on the facts." But when Reuters provides the facts, reaching a reasoned conclusion becomes a difficult task.

It's neither anti-war nor anti-Semitic, but don't forget it was Reuters that issued the photograph of White House adviser Karl Rove with a clear red-lettered "EXIT" sign next to his head on the June day it was reported he would not be charged in the Valerie Plame dust-up.

Sounds much like the subliminal image Reuters issued a few months earlier of Vice President Dick Cheney with the word "Retire," part of a "Retirement Savings" sign, looming ominously above his head.

Is Reuters a patsy or collaborator? Either way, it is helping the cause of terrorism and undermining civilization.

Unless it wants to become just another branch of Al-Jazeera, it had better make meaningful institutional changes soon.

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3 Comments:

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Joe Alves Jr. said...

Whether it is Reuters, Al-jazeera, CNN, or any of the looney Liberal fly-by media, they're all a bunch of fools who take sides with killers and foreign dictators. They think that the terrorists will look upon them some day with favor. The truth of the matter is, that these fools will be the first to be beheaded by their so called freedom fighter heroes, whom any sane American would call, blood thirsty terrorist murderers. In time, people will see these liars for what they are, and of course the Kool Aid drinking hate America crowd will go on listening to these pinheads because they need to believe this blather. And speaking of blather,---where's Dan Rather? Pun intended.

 
At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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