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December 04, 2006

Shock: New York Times Defends AP Against Blogger Flopping Aces On Jamil Hussein Story

This is a link to Flopping Aces, quoting the Times and responding to it, so you can click with a clear conscience.

The international editor of the A.P., John Daniszewski, said in a statement Tuesday that the military’s questioning of the original sourcing on the article was “frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question.”

Mr. Daniszewski added that A.P. was nonetheless re-reporting the incident, and the agency had sent its reporters back to the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad, where they found several additional witnesses who not only corroborated the original report, but gave exhaustive details of a day of bedlam, for a second article that hit the wires Tuesday afternoon.

The Times does not mention the phantom police captain Jamil Hussein -- at all. It gives the reader no heads-up about a key source who might very well be lying even about his occupation, nor does it mention that the AP seems on very shaky ground here. They've interviewed new (unnamed) witnesses, but can produce no proof Hussein is who he says he is -- and the Iraq Ministry of the Interior says he's not on the payroll.

Check this out, for example:

For bloggers who believe that the media has been drawing false pictures of mayhem in Iraq, the insistence of the American military and Iraqi officials that the burning incident appeared to be a mere rumor was proof that their suspicions were correct.

No, the proof -- or at least strong evidence -- bloggers were correct on this was the fact that Jamil Hussein, AP's star source for its stringer-written story, is not actually a police captain as they claimed.

The Times fails to mention this.

They do seem to attack AP's dare-not-question-us attitude, slightly, but there's no question with whom their loyalties lay. Check out how bloggers are described:

Then there was The Associated Press itself, which by Friday had come to view the continued scrutiny of its article as evidence that everyone — the military, the blogosphere, even other media outlets tracking the back-and-forth — was either agenda-driven, insolent, or both, but not legitimately curious.


And so questions lingered and the blogs raged on.

Raged? Do we "rage" more than, say, Paul Krugman? Not a subtle attempt to portray media critics as unhinged cranks, even as they bury the evidence that those unhinged cranks may be right.

The executive editor of The Associated Press, Kathleen Carroll, in a meeting in her office Friday afternoon, explained that the agency had already done all it could to respond to the uncertainties by vigorously re-reporting the article, and suggested that to engage these questions — to continue to write about them — merely fueled a mad blog rabble that would never be satisfied.

"A mad blog rabble"? Now they're going all the way, huh?

And we can be satisfied, very easily -- with one paystub in the name of "Captain Jamil Hussein" from the Iraqi MOI.

He should have dozens and dozens of them. And yet the AP cannot produce one. Why is that?

And finally, the fake-but-accurate salutation. The New York Times suggests here that things are just so batshit crazy in Iraq anyway, what does it matter if the AP is falsely reporting enemy propaganda or not?

Whatever the agenda of the bloggers most interested in debunking the article, it somehow seems important to figure out why this incident — in the face of all the killings in Iraq — remains in such dispute.

The suggestion that there has to be some larger reason to have a concern about accurately-reported news is a strange one to be coming from the New York Times.

Or, perhaps, not so strange at all.

And more on AP's questionable reporter at Flopping Aces.

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posted by Ace at 12:47 PM

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