This crude phrase from my military past came back to me as I watched and read the coverage of the fighting in Lebanon. In story after story, that’s what journalists were doing to their integrity. Almost daily I would see a shocking photo on the cover of Time, U S News & World Report, or on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle. Then in a couple of days I would find a blog that proved the photos were staged or doctored, or that journalists had been duped by Hezbollah.
Easily the most egregious example of false reporting concerns the purported targeting of Lebanese Red Cross ambulances by the Israeli air force. The Zombie Time blog does a very thorough and clear debunking of the fraudulent or incompetent reporting of the “attack,” so I won’t go into the details they present. However, the bottom line on this incident is that it was reported as an Israeli atrocity, a blatant violation of one of the most sacred rules of warfare, and yet every fact indicates it never happened. Numerous photos were taken of the ambulance(s) supposedly hit by rockets from Israeli fighter jets, and the ambulances were later placed on display in Tyre, Lebanon. Had I been a journalist and seen the photos or the ambulances, I would have stated and reported immediately that they had not been hit by rockets, and in particular that the ambulance supposedly most damaged absolutely could not have been hit by a rocket directly striking the center of the red cross on the top of the ambulance.
Have you seen the pictures of the ambulance? Any one with half a brain would know 1) any rocket hit would have totally destroyed the ambulance, and 2) there is no combat pilot in the world who would fire a rocket from a direct dive above a target. The rocket would be launched from a shallow dive, and come at the target at an angle to the ground of less than 30 degrees. That’s right, it would have hit the side of the ambulance, not gone straight down through the roof like a bomb might if launched from a high elevation. A close inspection of the photo of the ambulance roof shows the hole matches a round ventilation hole seen in the roofs of other Lebanese Red Cross ambulances. A close inspection also reveals no corresponding hole in the floor, and no fire or blast damage inside.
This all escaped the scrutiny of trained journalists and resulted in reports of Israeli attacks on ambulances filed by the Associated Press, and soon appeared in newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe, in Time Magazine, in Britain on ITV News and in The Guardian, and many others.
The “journalists” working on this story, supposedly trained professionals all, filled their mess kits to overflowing with their own feces on this one. They continue compounding error by not running retractions and corrections. “Move on,” they say. “That’s yesterday’s ‘news.’”
Or what passes for “news” from these “journalists,” as they turn their only reason for their employment, their truthfulness and integrity, into excrement in their mess kits.
Little Green Footballs has an excellent recap of faked news in their “Fauxtography Scandal Updates,” and one of the featured staged photo sessions is of a Lebanese “rescuer” near Qana who has been nicknamed “Green Helmet.” You’ve seen his picture on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, in U S News & World Report, and in many others. In fact, if you look for him, you will soon find that he is the star of the disaster near Qana. He is ubiquitous in the photos and videos playing the role of rescuer, while what he actually did on that sad day was pose dead children for photo opportunities, holding them up like trophies to satisfy the photojournalists’ demands.
The children were undeniably dead, possibly killed as a result of Israeli attacks on Hezbollah rocket launchers nearby, but the “Green Helmet” rescue shots were posed for cameras, and were not spontaneous news shots. One of the Reuters cameramen that day has since been fired for “Photoshopping” pictures to make them more dramatic. One example, still featured in U S News & World Report, shows a Hezbollah fighter posed in front of a huge fire, reportedly the result of an Israeli fighter plane shot down.
However, the photo is actually at a tire dump, and the fire was set, possibly accidentally, by Hezbollah. No Israeli jet or military action had anything to do with the fire, but that doesn’t seem to bother U S News & World Report. The photo showed up again on the Letters page of their 28 August 2006 issue. I guess you don’t feel any shame as a journalist if you’re so careless you don’t know you’ve been made a fool.
Just don’t accept when they offer to share their mess kit.
UPDATE: PowerLine has the story and pictures that prove Reuters is a willing participant in a journalistic fraud being perpetrated in Lebanon. When you look at the picture of the Reuters "press" car and the damage supposedly done by an Israeli rocket, then at its interior, the only possible conclusion is that Reuters is a party to releasing a fraudulent news report concerning its own activities. Any claim Reuters has to journalistic integrity is now excrement in their mess kits.
It's sad to see the formerly proud profession of journalism fall so low. Their only defense seems to be that everyone is doing it, and Little Green Footballs illustrates how lucrative it is for the Associated Press to prostitute its "news" coverage with an Arab bias.