And the right wing of the blogosphere has yet another front in the never-ending war on the media:
You’ve probably not read much about it because only a handful of mainstream media outlets have covered it, but the Associated Press – for decades America’s largest and most trusted wire news service – is at the center of a credibility crisis largely of its own making.
You probably have heard of the AP story that started it – a horrifying dispatch from Iraq the day after Thanksgiving claiming that six Sunnis had been doused with kerosene as they left their mosque following Friday prayers and burned alive by Shiite-aligned militiamen.
The story, which was quickly picked up by virtually every major news organization in the world, also claimed that “the Shiite-dominated police and Iraqi military” stood by doing nothing as the six people were gruesomely murdered. The story was sourced to “police Captain Jamil Hussein.”
The problem is there appears to be no such person as Captain Jamil Hussein, at least not who is employed by the Iraqi police. The U.S. military says Hussein doesn’t exist and has demanded that AP issue a correction. The Iraqi government says no such person is on its police payroll.
Things have gotten progressively worse for AP since those initial questions about “Hussein” were raised by U.S. and Iraqi officials. A firestorm of criticism has exploded in the Blogosphere as bloggers have researched the names of more than a dozen Iraqi- named sources of apparently doubtful credibility that have appeared in AP stories.
The suggestion among many of the bloggers is that AP is being had by Iraqis aligned with the insurgency who are posing as credible sources and are using the world’s most respected wire news service to project to the world a flawed image of the conflict in Iraq.
And so it goes. The usual suspects are in a tizzy, and looking at the memeorandum archives shows this has been playing out for a few days. No doubt, by the time we are done with this story, AP will be forced to offer an embarassing apology, and we can all listen to Bill O’Reilly and Red State tell us that this proves the media hates America.
I don’t know if the AP blew it- it sure looks like they got this wrong (from this Examiner piece), and they probably handled it poorly. But I don’t really care, either, because the past few years have made me cynical and petty and extremely wary of those attacking the media. If this were just about this one story, and the forces of patriotism on the right were aligned to attack the AP to get this one story right, it would be one thing. But that isn’t the objective.
The objective is to destroy the credibility of the Amurica-hating ‘mainstream media’ completely, and to replace it with party organs. Instead of realizing that a large organization with thousands of employees and hundreds of thousands may have mistakenly trusted a source who lied or was wrong, we will be bombarded with weeks of messages that this is just more ‘proof’ that the media is on the side of the terrorists and that really, the only people you can believe are those who have exposed this evil that is AP.
And that is what it is all about- smacking down the media and the media elites so that they are not trusted, and we can get the unvarnished truth from outsiders and self-styled truth detectors like Bill O’Reilly. The forces who want you to think that abortion causes cancer and that Terri Schiavo was about to go for a walk and that global warming is a fraud and that gay marriage is the greatest threat to civilization have an axe grind, and if they can delegitimize the media to further their own aims, they will. And that is precisely what they are doing.
In essence, the battle here is between the thousands of members of the media who go out every day and place themselves in dangerous situations to bring hard facts home to us but who sometimes get shit wrong, and those who think that reporting is repeating whatever the Ken Mehlman/Karl Rove press release of the day might say. So excuse me if I cut the media a little slack. I have watched these attacks for years now, and at the embarassing beginning of this blog was a full-throated participant in the attacks, but I am to the point now that I am willing to give the people trying to get the truth out more of a break than the people I know are pushing an agenda.
Because, as we all know, if it were not for media reporting, everything would be going ok in Iraq.