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November 30, 2006

AP Fights Back, Hinting That Partisan Political Operatives Are Being Used By The Military To Slander Them

Smells like Rathergate again.

How transparent can they get? Caught in what seems to be a mistake, compounded by dishonest changes in their story as the story "evolved," they take the Dan Rather tactic of refusing to address the substance of the charges, preferring instead to claim -- get this -- bias and agendas in those making the criticisms.

Let's stipulate for the record: We're biased. So's the military. So's AP.

The question is: what are the actual facts? AP seems less surefooted in attempting to deal with that question.

AP instead tries to make some vague connection between this story and the outrage! of a government PR agency planting positive stories in the Iraqi press.

JunkYardBlog has an offer:

Like I said, I'm not really even that offended by this insinuation because the AP's credibility has been wounded and they're just flailing around desperately looking for someone to blame it on besides themselves. But I'll make you a deal, AP. I'll cooperate with you fully in proving to your satisfaction in proving I am an independent blogger and not getting paid by this Lincoln group. As long as you'll protect my anonymity as you would any confidential source, I'll give you all reasonable access to satisfy you that I'm just a poor little desk-jockey typing away here and not a paid-up tentacle of the military-industrial complex. Obviously it's impossible to prove a negative, but I think I will be able to satisfy you that my writing on this case and my interest in it has been independent. I expect many of the bloggers linked in this piece would submit to a similar examination.

In exchange, you guys will present Capt. Jamil Hussein, live, in person, at the Iraqi MOI HQ. As he's a real, bona fide police captain, I'm sure he'll be interested in clearing up his employment status!

I'm serious, AP dudes. Drop me a line. Seedub at hotmail. Let's do this.

I don't think his hotmail account will be ringing.

More... Flopping Aces started this story (AFAIK), and he has CENTCOM's full denial and AP's statement that it "stands by its story."

Kathleen Carroll states:

From Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor, The Associated Press

We are satisfied with our reporting on this incident. If Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen choose to disregard AP’s on-the-ground reporting, that is certainly their choice to make, but it is a puzzling one given the facts.

AP journalists have repeatedly been to the Hurriyah neighborhood, a small Sunni enclave within a larger Shiia area of Baghdad . Residents there have told us in detail about the attack on the mosque and that six people were burned alive during it. Images taken later that day and again this week show a burned mosque and graffiti that says “blood wanted,” similar to that found on the homes of Iraqis driven out of neighborhoods where they are a minority. We have also spoken repeatedly to a police captain who is known to AP and has been a reliable source of accurate information in the past and he has confirmed the attack.

By contrast, the U.S. military and Iraqi government spokesmen attack our reporting because that captain’s name is not on their list of authorized spokespeople. Their implication that we may have given money to the captain is false. The AP does not pay for information. Period.

Further, the Iraqi spokesman said today that reporting on the such atrocities “shows that the security situation is worse than it really is.” He is speaking from a capital city where dozens of bodies are discovered every day showing signs of terrible torture. Where people are gunned down in their cars, dragged from their homes or blown apart in public places every single day.

At the end of the day, we have AP journalists with reporting and images from the actual neighborhood versus official spokesmen saying the story cannot be true because it is damaging and because one of the sources is not on a list of people approved to talk to the press. Good reporting relies on more than government-approved sources.

We stand behind our reporting.

First of all, this is a blatant misrepresentation of the charge; the charge is not that the "Iraqi policeman" is not an official spokesman, but that he is not a cop at all. AP lies even when it reports on its own lying.

And, just for fun, remember Kathleen Carroll has a never-concede-error mentality. Remember her statement denying any staging whatsoever in the Qana Corpse Carnival?

The AP said information from its photo editors showed the events were not staged, and that the time stamps could be misleading for several reasons, including that web sites can use such stamps to show when pictures are posted, not taken. An AFP executive said he was stunned to be questioned about it. Reuters, in a statement, said it categorically rejects any such suggestion.

"It's hard to imagine how someone sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene can decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy," said Kathleen Carroll, AP's senior vice president and executive editor.

Carroll said in addition to personally speaking with photo editors, "I also know from 30 years of experience in this business that you can't get competitive journalists to participate in the kind of (staging) experience that is being described."

I grow weary of the media's constant defense that they are "in the shit" and you aren't so you'll just have to listen to them. AP's first reporting on this was done entirely by a local stringer, not by an AP reporter. What little staff they have is not out in the field but back in the relative comfort of the green zone. And of course AP's senior editorial staff is all in the "air-conditioned offices" Kathleen Carroll derieds.

Maybe Ms. Carroll should go over to Iraq, embed in a unit, see things first hand. At least then she'd have some credibility in making the "we're out there in the shit" defense.

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posted by Ace at 04:47 PM

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