Monday, December 04, 2006

AP Making Up War Crimes

Jules Crittendon has written an excellent piece on AP's ethical problems and outright fabrication of negative Iraq news stories.

Curt at Floppingaces,, led the charge. He thought there was something strange about an AP report, and took a second look at it, then a third look. He and others blew the lid off it. The AP is making up war crimes. But the resulting stink in the blogosphere has barely wrinkled a nose in the mainstream press. The ethics-obsessed Poynter Institute seems to be oblivious to it.

It has to do with the AP’s Iraqi stringers and an oft-quoted Iraqi police captain named Jamil Hussein. Problem is, the Iraqi police say Capt. Hussein does not exist. The Iraqi police and U.S. military say an incident described in an AP report - Iraqi soldiers standing by as people were burned alive in a mosque - didn’t happen. Another AP-reported incident, U.S. soldiers shooting 11 civilians, also never happened, the military says.

When the AP was forced to acknowledge this situation, it did so in a story about a new Interior Ministry policy regarding false reports. The AP buried the fact that its own false report prompted this new policy.

The AP stands by its reporting.. The AP has cast “Capt. Jamil Hussein” simply as someone not authorized to speak, and AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll has sniffed morally: “Good reporting relies on more than government-approved sources.”

Good reporting should NOT rely on made up scenarios though, Ms. Carroll. No wonder Capt. Hussein is not authorized to speak, since he doesn't exist. And where are the "media watchdogs?" Nowhere to be found.

The AP has another Iraqi stringer problem. Photographer Bilal Hussein is in U.S. custody, and the AP has been clamoring indignantly for his release. AP reports have buried the U.S. explanation that Hussein is being held without charge because - quite aside from producing photos that showed him to be overly intimate with terrorists in Fallujah - he was in an al-Qaeda bomb factory, with an al-Qaeda bombmaker, with traces of explosives on his person when he was arrested.

The AP, of course, has been delivering unbalanced reports about U.S. national politics for some time, as when President Bush, whom AP reporters despise, is barely allowed to state his case on an issue before his critics are given twice as much space to pummel him. The AP, once a just-the-facts news delivery service, has lost its rudder. It has become a partisan, anti-American news agency that seeks to undercut a wartime president and American soldiers in the field. It is providing fraudulent, shoddy goods. It doesn’t even recognize it has a problem.

You're not seeing much about this because, as Crittendon points out later in the article, most of the news media depends on the AP for its stories. Looks to me like, judging by the free fall in newspaper circulation, they need to demand a better product.