Patterico's Pontifications

8/14/2006

Rutten’s Excellent Column on Fauxtography (Or, If You Like, Hezbollywood)

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Media Bias,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 6:03 am



Although I was offline a good part of the weekend, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that Tim Rutten had an excellent piece in Saturday’s L.A. Times about the Reuters controversy.

THE controversy this week over Reuters’ distribution of digitally manipulated, falsely labeled and — probably — staged photos of the fighting in Lebanon hasn’t been nearly as large as it should have been.

Credit for bringing the sordid business to light goes to Charles Johnson, a musician and Los Angeles-based blogger, who operates a hard-edged right wing website unfathomably called Little Green Footballs. Last Saturday, Reuters, which is headquartered in London, transmitted two photographs by one of its regular Lebanese freelance photographers, Adnan Hajj, whose work for the agency has appeared in many American newspapers since 1993. An anonymous tipster reportedly drew Johnson’s attention to the photos, and he immediately recognized that one purporting to show the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on Beirut had been digitally enhanced. It subsequently emerged that another image allegedly showing an Israeli fighter launching multiple air-to-ground missiles also had been altered using the common Photoshop computer program.

While Rutten was busy seriously looking into the controversy, the paper’s news section contented itself with running the Washington Post‘s slanted piece on the issue. As Rutten explains: “The Times picked up [an article] from the Washington Post, which focused mainly on the politics of Johnson’s website.” Yup, that’s about right.

But Rutten’s column has almost made up for the news side’s complete lack of interest in this story. For example, he picked up on Slublog’s Passion of the Toys (which I linked here):

What’s hard to imagine is how anybody can look at the photos and not conclude that they’re riddled with journalistic deceit.

Many, including grisly images from the Qana tragedy, clearly are posed for maximum dramatic effect. There is an entire series of photos of children’s stuffed toys poised atop mounds of rubble. All are miraculously pristinely clean and apparently untouched by the devastation they purportedly survived.

Rutten also says:

In some cases, the bloggers seem to have uncovered the same photographer using more than one identity.

This appears to be a reference to the (since debunked) allegation that Adnan Hajj is also Issam Kobeisi. Good for Rutten for picking up on the allegation . . . though it was debunked on August 9, two days before Rutten’s column ran. Anyway. Rutten continues:

There’s an improbable photo by Hajj of a Koran burning atop the rubble of a building supposedly destroyed by an Israeli aircraft hours before. Nothing else in sight is alight. (With photos, as in life, when something seems too perfect to be true, it’s almost always because it is.)

That’s a reference to this photo. Rutten caught that. And Rutten continues further:

In other photos, the same wrecked building is portrayed multiple times with the same older woman — one supposes she ought to be called a model — either lamenting its destruction or passing by in different costumes.

Yup. As Ace pointed out over the weekend, this building was depicted as having been destroyed for the fourth freakin’ time. Ace said:

How many frigging times is this building going to be destroyed before the war is over?

Four times so far. The same building has been destroyed four goddamned times, each time “overnight,” since July 18th.

But Rutten missed the Green Helmet guy who choreographed the photography of dead children, so that they would be removed from ambulances for a better and more effective shot. (More on him here and here.) He missed the photographer who admits that bodies have been dug up to make pictures more effective. He missed the girl who fell off the swing being portrayed as a bombing victim.

I’m sure there’s more I just missed.

But hey — there’s a lot going on with this story. It’s hard to keep up. Rutten has done a good job of giving L.A. Times readers a glimpse into the propaganda abyss.

If only the news side were as interested . . .

P.S. Everything I covered in the above post, and everything I missed as well, is covered in this absolute bit of genius from See-Dubya. It’s titled “Fauxla,” and is sung to the tune of “Lola” by the Kinks. Here’s some highlights, but I guarantee you that you’ll want to read the whole thing:

MSM stringers down in old Beirut

Nasrallah had some photos that he wanted them to shoot

Called ‘em on his Motorola:

“We’ve a narrative to control-lah”

But the bloggers were a-watching all the clone-stamped smoke

Little Green Footballs said j’accuse! like Zola

Just like Emile Zola.

Oh Reuters, Reuters I can’t understand

Why you keep on showing us the Green-Helmet Man

Taking bodies in and out of his mortuary van

While your cameras roll-ah

Doin’ it for Hezbollah

. . . .

Now Ace ain’t the world’s most quick-witted man,

But even he had to wonder about the burning Koran

Bloggers on patrol-ah

Got more eyes than a behold-ah

There’s so much more, but I want you to click on the link and read it all.

Absolute genius.

25 Responses to “Rutten’s Excellent Column on Fauxtography (Or, If You Like, Hezbollywood)”

  1. Usually I can’t get more than a sentence or two through a Tim Rutten piece before I gag, and have to put it down. In fact, I usually ignore Rutten because he is what Hugh Hewitt calls an MSM “tuba” thumping the same old tune.

    My wife read this piece by Rutten and suggested I look at it as well. Tim had apparently taken the blinkers off for the day, but Rutten being Rutten, couldn’t get all the way through the piece without taking a snarky shot at bloggers and non MSM types; he referred to the MSM as the “serious” media. Oh well, give Mr. Rutten an A for effort. I hope he shows continued improvement.

    Mike Myers (55ef4a)

  2. From my perspective…

    The children are dead – doesn’t matter if their bodies were repositioned. It isn’t the best journalism, but then again if it wasn’t the cameraman doing the repositioning of the bodies himself…

    That “Green Helmet” video is despicable, but what was missing was the translation of everyone in the crowd around them. Might somebody have said, “Pull the kid’s body back out again so I can take a picture?” Who knows?

    The problem with the conservative reaction to these images is that your response is to assert that the tragedies behind these scenes never happened.

    As someone who is ideologically opposed to war itself to the core of my being, I think that Americans NEED TO SEE MORE images of death and destruction… If images – even semi-staged images of real bodies – can contribute to a war cheerleader reconsidering his/her position in favorite of non-violence, then such images are useful and good.

    The Liberal Avenger (5f0af6)

  3. The problem with your reaction, Liberal Avenger, is that “We” cannot decide to have peace. The Other Guys have to want it too. Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Iran and Syria obviously do not want peace. They want the destruction of Israel and the destruction of the United States. They’ve been saying it for decades and we have chosen not to believe that they truly mean what they say.

    When the enemy hides behind civilians as cover, who is more responsible for their deaths? Do you choose to passively accept your own civilian casualties or do you kill the people who are trying to kill you? Non-violence is not going to stop people who will gleefully kill themselves in order to kill you. It will only make their job a whole lot easier.

    I am ideologically opposed to being killed because some people are naive enough to believe that peace at any price is not an excessive price to pay.

    csufbomb (30e635)

  4. The problem with the conservative reaction to these images is that your response is to assert that the tragedies behind these scenes never happened.

    /yawn

    Strawman. Really weak one at that.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  5. Dwilkers:

    Read Michelle Malkin and tell me whether or not that point is a strawman I’ve constructed.

    The Liberal Avenger (5f0af6)

  6. Liberal Avenger,

    The problem with staging the photos of dead children is that it is DISHONEST. The ideal taught in American j-schools is one of truth and objectivity. The public has a right to expect that the news and photos presented in MSM is truthful. That’s what makes these pics so despicable.

    By contrast, Hajj and other photogs and journalists like him, do not believe in objectivity. In fact, in most of Europe as well as the Middle East, journalists are expected to take sides on any story or issue. In that respect, doctoring or staging photos is only the most modern extension of this idea. The problem with it is that it is propaganda, but was presented as news to American consumers. That’s falseness in advertising. 😛

    As for your peace-loving stuff, I think everybody loves peace. I know I do. But I also know that you don’t have peace when one side continues to assault you day after day. I have no problem with them showing dead children, but try showing some Israeli casualties along with the Lebanese.

    sharon (03e82c)

  7. Rutten’s article was quite stunning, for the LAT, at least. Maybe I’ll subscribe again!

    Nah…

    Liberal Avenger,
    How can you be for the purity of pacificism and so nonchalant about the Big Lie of Hezbollah war propaganda? So much for the morality of your position.

    Patricia (2cc180)

  8. Patricia

    Pacifists are rarely moral.

    Darleen (03346c)

  9. Re #2. “The children are dead – doesn’t matter if their bodies were repositioned.”

    So says the self described, “…someone who is ideologically opposed to war itself to the core of my being…” and who tells us he, … think(s) that Americans NEED TO SEE MORE images of death and destruction…”

    Seems the Liberal Avenger is thinking along the same lines as Hizbollah’s propaganda “repositioners.”

    Riehl World View has the following:

    “…Hizbullah gunmen placed a rocket launcher on the roof in Qana and brought disabled children inside, in a bid to provoke a response by the Israeli Air Force. In this way, they were planning to take advantage of the death of innocents and curtail the negotiation initiative,” the site stated.”
    … “There were 15 physically or mentally handicapped children among the children killed in Qana,” said Bahia Hariri, who represents south Lebanon.

    http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2006/08/did_hezbollah_d.html

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  10. Lib Avenger –

    Even in a “best” or most generous interpretation of the staging of photographs, there remains the lie that the sequences do not portray the truth. That is, one child’s body being repeatedly carried over the same path by multiple actors to make it appear that there were many child victims.

    In other such cases, like the girl who fell off the swing in a tragic non-war accident, the body is paraded with the lie that she died due to combat.

    In every single such case, there is a marked disrespect for the dead, as proven by the out-take sequences in which the actors roughly yank the bodies of children out of ambuances and off gurneys to re-do the sequences, twisting their limbs and heads callously for camera angles.

    Dead children = PR currency — what does that say about the perpetrators and the photographers who reward the behavior?!

    jim (a9ab88)

  11. “The public has a right to expect that the news and photos presented in MSM is truthful.”

    Comment by sharon — 8/14/2006 @ 9:45 am

    I have no doubt that “the public” is perfectly free to expect
    anything that can be imagined, but looking through the
    U.S. Constitution, I don’t see an enumerated, or for that matter
    an implied “right” to “truth and objectivity” from the press.

    anonymous (ceebbb)

  12. I don’t see an enumerated, or for that matter
    an implied “right” to “truth and objectivity” from the press.

    Then “the press” shouldn’t be surprised if their audience rejects them as the terrorist apologists that they are. The press has breached its contract with us.

    Darleen (03346c)

  13. “I have no doubt that “the public” is perfectly free to expect anything that can be imagined, but looking through the U.S. Constitution, I don’t see an enumerated, or for that matter an implied “right” to “truth and objectivity” from the press.”

    I didn’t suggest there is a Constitutional right to truth and objectivity from the press, but that’s what MSM SAYS it gives the public. It is its stock and trade. This is not about Constitutional rights. It’s about credibility. When American news outlets, which constantly tell the public how fair, truthful, objective, etc. they are are caught using doctored photos, it reflects badly on that credibility. I doubt readers in Europe or the Middle East are surprised at the doctored photos. But for Americans, it goes to the core of MSM’s respectability.

    sharon (03e82c)

  14. […] More on this issue …HERE……..HERE……….HERE………HERE….HERE AND ….HERE.WARNING…GRAPHIC IMAGES. […]

    stikNstein….has no mercy » Blog Archive » AP REFUSES TO ACKNOWLEDGE FAUXTOGRAPHY…..what’d ya expect them to do? (04e757)

  15. One thing they didn’t have to photo shop was a photo of the terrorist leader. He was, as usual for a terrorists, quivering and hid in a hole somewhere. Now the idiot is out screaming they won the war. Lets see, by winning they got hundreds killed and all of them ran over 20 miles away from the border with Israel.
    If that’s a win, i’d hate to see a loss. And the same antique MSM that hyped the doctored photo’s are hyping the phony, we won, claims of the terrorists. Can we call the left wing democrats and their talking head media types unpatroitic yet, as a fact we can and add traitors to the end.

    Scrapiron (71415b)

  16. I don’t see an enumerated, or for that matter
    an implied “right” to “truth and objectivity” from the press.

    Well I can see why the fellow who posted that used the nom de blog “anonymous”.

    He’s certainly right on the enumerated point; and he’s partially right on the “implied” point insofar as truth and objectivity is NOT required of the press by the Constitution.

    At the time the Constitution was written, and for that matter for a long time thereafter, the press was full of scalawags and opinionated scoundrels who made no secret of their bias and opinions. Yellow journalism was the order of the day, and an upright gentleman would no more let his sister marry a journalist than he would allow her to marry an actor. (Okay, those were different times, different mores, but the point of the matter is that journalists were somewhere down near the bottom of polite society).

    I had the unfortunate experience of travelling to Lagos Nigeria on eight or nine occasions during the early 1980s–each trip lasted a couple of weeks or so, and since there was a good deal of downtime cooling your heels waiting for meetings with agency functionaries, I read all of the Lagos daily papers each day. What a hoot! As I recall there were 7 or 8 papers–each of which was the firm captive of one of the contending political factions. Some of them made no bones about their affiliation, printing the political party’s name right under their banner head line. Others were somewhat more discreet–at least as discreet as say Bill Keller at the NYT or Dean Baquet at the Los Angeles Times.

    But the point is that, with the Lagos, Nigeria papers at least, what you saw was what you got—namely, rotten journalism, written and edited by people firmly in the pocket of one political party or another and making no bones about it. If you wanted to know what the Nigerian National Party (NNP) was thinking, you read their house organ.

    Here in the United States, you get MSM –and Fox News, CNN, MSNBC etc for that matter, all claiming to be fair, objective and unbiased. And of course you’ve got the J-schools telling their students that they are secular priests and saints of some kind devoted to telling the truth. The problem is that everybody outside the J-schools knows that those faculties are selling pure unadulterated hogwash when they say that–but the J-school grads have drunk the Kool-Aid and believe it.

    And as for the implied right to receive truth and objectivity from the press—that’s what the members of the press say they are providing. The people who buy their newspapers or listen to their reports are being misled if that’s not true.

    The lawyers who read this blog can recognize the doctrine of promissory estoppel–creating an implied and enforceable contract. The consumers who read this blog already know a whole lot about “bait and switch” advertising or consumer fraud. Two sides of the same coin—if you tell me you are going to tell the truth and be objective, you’re obligated to deliver. And the old dead tree press just isn’t doing that.

    Mike Myers (55ef4a)

  17. Do they still have editors over there?

    The exposure of the doctored airstrike photo was a coup for Johnson and his 4-year-old political blog, Little Green Footballs. Make that a second coup, of sorts.

    plus

    Johnson — who said he was tipped to the doctored airstrike image by a reader he knows only as “Mike” — has been winning converts since he turned Little Green Footballs from a how-to Web design site into a political blog (littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog) after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    New math? Forgotten recent history? You make the call.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  18. Web Reconnaissance for 08/15/2006…

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention….

    The Thunder Run (59ce3a)

  19. We may have no “right” to truth and objectivity from the press. But any parent who teaches his/her children to demand rights but forgets to discuss reponsibilities is failing. If the press, be they MSM or “New Media” what to be taken seriously they need to act like adults and be responsible. People who are not responsible have their “rights” taken away. (You get too many moving traffic violations in a period of time, you lose your driver’s license. Peoples lives are at stake, you know!?!?)

    Concerning “Qana”, is trying to compile a complete narrative.

    The issue is not as simple as “the children are dead, so what if they were moved/posed”, but if part of the story is fudged, how much of it was? Even to the point of deliberately killing innocent children with disabilities that were not in the area to begin with, just for show?? Before such thoughts are dimissed as “too much”, remember what these folks are known to do, deliberately kill innocent children, among others.

    Patterico, perhaps you can contact some forensic experts who will look at some things on their own time. For example, look at the pictures linked by Black Jack in Post #9 above. The pictures of children in a chronic care center look similar to some of the bodies pulled out of the rubble. Maybe someone with knowledge can do measurements of facial features, etc. to see if the living and dead bodies match. Anyone interested in justice should want to see that those who deliberately sacrifice innocent disabled children for their cause deserve Nuremberg-like treatment (a trial and a photoshoot at the end of a noose).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  20. We may have no “right” to truth and objectivity from the press. But any parent who teaches his/her children to demand rights but forgets to discuss reponsibilities is failing. If the press, be they MSM or “New Media” want to be taken seriously they need to act like adults and be responsible. People who are not responsible have their “rights” taken away. (You get too many moving traffic violations in a period of time, you lose your driver’s license. People’s lives are at stake, you know!?!?)

    Concerning “Qana”, a complete narrative is being compiled at
    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2006/08/part-1-introduction.html

    The issue is not as simple as “the children are dead, so what if they were moved/posed”, but if part of the story is fudged, how much of it was? Even to the point of deliberately killing innocent children with disabilities that were not in the area to begin with, just for show?? Before such thoughts are dimissed as “too much”, remember what these folks are known to do, deliberately kill innocent children, among others.

    Patterico, perhaps you can contact some forensic experts who will look at some things on their own time. For example, look at the pictures linked by Black Jack in Post #9 above. The pictures of children in a chronic care center look similar to some of the bodies pulled out of the rubble. Maybe someone with knowledge can do measurements of facial features, etc. to see if the living and dead bodies match. Anyone interested in justice should want to see that those who deliberately sacrifice innocent disabled children for their own cause deserve Nuremberg-like treatment (a trial and a photoshoot at the end of a noose).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  21. Ummm, sorry.

    Please delete my first Post at #21 above (as well as this one).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  22. photo fraud and blogademic research…

    So how do you know the difference between a research blog post and a news blog post? Typically, there is no way to tell except from the content, and that takes some experience to recognize. Maybe blogs should implement a tradition to help the reader …..

    Doc Rampage (59ce3a)

  23. So 85% of the pictures you see in the SMELL A TIMES or NEW YORK SEWER are faked who can ever trust these scoundrels?

    krazy kagu (1b5cd8)


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