Patterico's Pontifications

1/23/2007

Keeping An Eye on E&P

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:42 pm



Allah is continuing to keep an eye on E&P for an acknowledgement of Michelle Malkin’s findings on the non-destroyed mosques. Yesterday’s caveats still hold, but as time passes, E&P’s silence will become more meaningful. And like Allah, I have a hunch that the silence will be lasting.

25 Responses to “Keeping An Eye on E&P”

  1. We already knew the Iraqi Army disputes the burning Sunni’s angle along with their own alleged malfeasance. Their patrol reported that long ago.

    How does commentary from “Capt. Aaron Kaufman of Task Force Justice, which works closely with the Iraqi Army battalion that was on the scene and monitored events as they happened” add first-person knowledge? It doesn’t. It’s filler.

    If the U.S. military can supply Michelle Malkin with pictures from the November 25th Iraqi patrol, it can also follow up on its demand for an AP correction based on an MOI claim Jamil Hussein wasn’t an employed cop. Where’s any clarification from the voluble Lt. Michael Dean while we’re settling scores?

    Jamil Hussein may be a pseudonymous liar. I think AP possibly got burned. But we still can’t completely rule out people were doused and lit – only that mosques were damaged and not destroyed. AP likely sent a “Mandatory Kill” topline to clients after the “destroyed mosques” initial run, if it was discovered in the same cycle. This is not the milblog Enunciation.

    Ed (2f56d2)

  2. Ed #1:

    AP likely sent a “Mandatory Kill” topline to clients after the “destroyed mosques” initial run, if it was discovered in the same cycle. This is not the milblog Enunciation.

    Ed,

    If the AP felt its first story was wrong and sent what you call a “mandatory kill” to its clients, does that mean it doesn’t owe its clients and readers a correction?

    If so, it must be like the 5-second rule when you drop something. Pick it up in 5 seconds and it’s safe to eat. Similarly, it sounds like you believe if the AP kills a story in [5 minutes/hours/?], it doesn’t have to be true or corrected. Am I misreading your comment?

    DRJ (f4c219)

  3. Ed, a few points.

    First off, “disputed” is not the same as “a fundamental fact of a story has been visually proven to be false”. The “Burning Six” weren’t alone in their news story, remember? There are four mosques still standing when the AP said they were destroyed. I’m not saying that the fact that the mosques are standing necessarily implies that the “Burning Six” didn’t happen, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the AP to issue a correction akin to:
    Of the four mosques we reported as being destroyed, none suffered actual structural damage. Investigation is still out on the “Burning Six”.

    Second, why should Lt. Dean issue a correction? If “Jamil Gholaim Hussein” is not “Jamil Gholaim Hussein”, then Lt. Dean is factually correct. To quote Dafydd:

    Here, it’s just about like this: “Our source is Fester Bestertester, who works at the K-Mart on Maple St.”

    “There is no Fester Bestertester at the K-Mart on Maple Street.”

    “Aha, the regional manager of K-Mart just admitted that he has a Fester Karbunkle Bestertester working at the K-Mart on Maple! Don’t you feel like an idiot now? Were you lying when you said Fester Bestertester doesn’t exist, or were you just stupid and incompetent?”

    “Actually, the regional manager of K-Mart said that we have a Fester Aloysius Karbunkle working there, and that was only after you added the name Karbunkle. He doesn’t have the name Bestertester. Nobody named Fester Bestertester works there.”

    “See? We told you all along our source was Fester Bestertester working at K-Mart on Maple Street!”

    Third, your phrasing of “Jamil Hussein may be a pseudonymous liar” has some interesting semantics involved. First, this assumes that Jamil “not Hussein” was, in fact, the real source for these stories. Second, I’m catching a possible implication in your usage of the word “pseudonymous” that implies that you think it was Jamil himself who gave the false name. It’s as if you’ve ruled out the possibility that an AP stringer mangled a real name to create a fake source in an attempt to gain credibility for false stories. Note that I didn’t say “fact”, Ed. “Possibility”. Many of us are waiting until the verdict is in, here – mind doing the same for us?

    Oh, one last note in passing. If Jamil Hussein is a pseudonymous liar, how does that compel Lt. Dean to issue a correction?

    Henry Dorsett Case (71646f)

  4. Henry,

    It’s not accurate to say none of the mosques sustained strutural damage. It’s clear from the video Michelle ran that the dome of one of them was badly damaged. But four mosques were not “destroyed” — although they did sustain damage.

    Patterico (a8fa4a)

  5. *grumbles* And again I leave bad HTML in my wake. Apologies again.

    Henry Dorsett Case (71646f)

  6. As has been pointed out before, if there were six Sunnis burned to death, what happened to the bodies? Why were there no funerals (typically very noisy affairs, nowadays)?

    The supporting evidence isn’t there. It’s the “dog didn’t bark” factor. Reason enough to have doubts that the “Burning Six” ever actually happened.

    larry (336e87)

  7. Damaged, destroyed… dead, not dead… man, you guys are picky!

    Jim Treacher (15574e)

  8. larry,

    Elementary physics should tell you what happened to the bodies of the Burning Six. It’s simple, really – when your body is taken to a morgue that doesn’t exist, your body ceases to exist!

    Henry Dorsett Case (71646f)

  9. There are four mosques still standing when the AP said they were destroyed.

    Why do you guys continue to repeat this nonsense? Can’t you just give a link to AP report about four destroyed mosques? A hint: there was none. Burnt doesn’t mean burnt down, it doesn’t mean destroyed either, in Arabic — probably even more so. Disproving a story that was not reported in the first place is fun thing to do, but what is the relevance of this effort?

    NN (9c16c2)

  10. I’ve got a cite from the original article here:

    11/24/06 10:10:28

    Sunnis claim mosques and houses burned by Shiite militia, police watch
    By QAIS AL-BASHIR
    Associated Press Writer

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Sunni residents in a volatile northwest Baghdad neighborhood claimed Friday that revenge-seeking Shiite militiamen had destroyed four Sunni mosques, burned homes and killed many people, while the Shiite-dominated police force stood by and did nothing.

    The reports were the most serious allegations of retribution in Baghdad the day after Sunni insurgents killed 215 people and wounded 257 with five car bombs and mortar fire in the capital’s Sadr City Shiite slum.

    Police officials in the region told Associated Press reporters that nothing had happened in the Hurriyah district, a once-mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhood that has increasingly come under the control of the Mahdi Army of radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

    The Sunni residents, who would not allow use of their names for fear of retribution, said militiamen were blocking them from entering burned homes to claim the bodies of victims killed in the fires.

    The AP later changed this to “burned” without issuing a retraction/correction.

    Where’s that “never claimed that they were destroyed”, again? Or are you going to claim that Mary Katherine Ham fabricated an AP story in order to create a neat little strawman to “disprove”? We know the story was changed – we want the AP to admit why. To this day, they stand behind Qais Al-Bashir and Jamil (not) Hussein.

    Henry Dorsett Case (39026f)

  11. I suspect AP moved the “destroyed”-to-“burned” correction as a “Re-send” topped with an editor’s note identifying what was altered. While it seems few clients ran the initial version, the ones that did could have exercised a prerogative to highlight the change.

    I haven’t been in a newsroom in 15 years, but wire stories are “Re-sent” within a news cycle to mark updating death tolls, attribution and spelling mistakes. Marginalia accompanying this particular one should have explained what prompted the fix. May be recoverable, but doubtful.

    By the way, did Michelle Malkin stop by AP offices in the Green Zone to inquire how the initial “mosque destroyed” story was vetted? If I were fronting a series of posts impugning an organization’s standards and practices, that would have been my first stop. Even if they stiffed her — it should have been pro forma.

    Ed (2f56d2)

  12. Ed,

    You apparently suggest that, as the AP changed its stories over time, these changes were made clear to its media customers but the media chose not to publish or highlight those changes. On what do you base your belief that every media source, rather than the AP itself, decided not to print a correction or clarification? In a story that has become so controversial, doesn’t the AP owe it to its customers and readers to publish a clarification or correction on its own website?

    Why do you suggest that Michele Malkin should actually go to the AP’s Baghdad offices to question their procedures when she and others have made written requests to the AP? Is your concern that she was not following protocol or do you believe her physical presence would accomplish more than a written request?

    DRJ (e69ca7)

  13. Where’s that “never claimed that they were destroyed”, again? Or are you going to claim that Mary Katherine Ham fabricated an AP story in order to create a neat little strawman to “disprove”?

    It’s “Sunni residents claimed”. This is probably true — i.e that they claimed this. AP stressed the questionable nature of this report (“Police officials in the region told Associated Press reporters that nothing had happened in the Hurriyah district”).
    And yes, I think that Malkin’s rebuttal is a strawman story.

    NN (9c16c2)

  14. #13, I specified the damaged/destroyed mosque correction. That’s the dogbone posters appear to be clenching.

    If the “burned Sunni’s” angle were debunked & withdrawn, AP would flash a “Mandatory Correction” and all clients would carry it if they carried the original. They’d probably discipline or fire a repeat offender on staff. But if there were 7 Sunnis not 6 burned, or vice versa, there would likely be a “Re-Send” on the same day and a new write the next day. An independent Iraqi TV station carried the original immolation story, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s website.

    Michelle Malkin could have learned something going to the AP office while she was in the Green Zone. There was nothing to lose and I’m surprised no one has commented.

    Ed (2f56d2)

  15. AP stressed the questionable nature of this report (”Police officials in the region told Associated Press reporters that nothing had happened in the Hurriyah district”).

    Right. They “stressed” the questionable nature by mentioning it one sentence followed immediately by “The Sunni residents, who would not allow use of their names for fear of retribution, said militiamen were blocking them from entering burned homes to claim the bodies of victims killed in the fires.” This is the same AP that has said that police, CENTCOM, and MOI reports against the existence/employment of “Cpt. Fester Bestertester Jamil Hussein” are similarly “questionable”. I really wonder at your definition of “stressed”.

    Ed, the question was not what there was to lose by going to the AP office. The question was what was the potential gain. What is it (beyond “something”) that Michelle could have learned by going to the AP office in the Green Zone?

    Henry Dorsett Case (0c08e1)

  16. Michelle Malkin travels 7,600 miles and gladly accepts U.S. military hand-outs to challenge AP’s Baghdad reporting – while the people whose story she’s re-constructing and questioning work out of a nearby office. Asking how they actually vetted that story conveys the appearance of being analytical. You won’t make much headway arguing otherwise.

    [If only we’d bothered to raise questions, the AP would *certainly* have been forthright and responsive! Hello from Ed’s dreamworld! — P]

    Ed (759672)

  17. So we’re not expecting the same old “We know who Jamil Hussein is; the MOI said he exists, didn’t you read the story?” song and dance number from the AP? Why, exactly, do you think the AP is going to be any more transparent for Malkin than they have been just because she’s there?

    Henry Dorsett Case (0c08e1)

  18. Ed,

    I think I understand your point. If Michelle Malkin is going to investigate this topic wearing her reporter’s hat, why not personally talk to the AP people on the ground in Baghdad? I think the easy answer is that the AP has chosen to handle this matter at the administrative level rather than make available its Baghdad reporters.

    It would be refreshing to see a Baghdad-based AP reporter come forward to discuss Jamil Hussein but so far AP has declined to provide a local reporter, let alone Jamil himself. Do you really expect Michelle Malkin to go to Iraq and chase AP reporters around for comment? Taking you at your word, apparently you do.

    In any event, I don’t see how Michelle Malkins’s conduct in any way prevents or excuses the AP from making corrections if it publishes misleading or incorrect information – even if it is something “minor” like the difference between destroyed and damaged.

    By analogy, I would undoubtedly learn more about your background and opinions if you and I were to sit down in person and discuss this. On the other hand, the fact that we aren’t discussing this face-to-face doesn’t excuse either of us from doing so in a truthful and candid manner, including correcting clear misstatements. Similarly, the fact that MM and the AP reporters haven’t had face time doesn’t change either parties’ responsibility to provide accurate information or to correct inaccuracies when they occur.

    DRJ (e69ca7)

  19. All fine points. But you can expect to be taken seriously trying to expose a generalized conspiracy by AP’s Baghdad staff to deceive the news-reading public – using only institutions sympathetic to the same proposition.

    Buy a round of beers with McClatchey or Reuters people and ask about blemishes in AP’s practices and how they avoid daily pitfalls. Make some effort to find Iraqi Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein and later said there was.

    Michelle was credentialed by the NYPost, an AP client. They probably knew she was coming. She should have dropped off the mosque photos on Bureau Chief Steven Hurst’s desk and written up his response or lack of one. I know I’d read about that.

    Ed (1c66cc)

  20. Do you think Steven Hurst doesn’t know about these photos, Ed?

    Patterico (a8fa4a)

  21. Ed,

    I agree with you regarding the Reuters and McClatchy reporters. They didn’t bite on this story – in fact, I think Reuters wrote articles that questioned the burning Sunnis story – so I’m interested in what the Reuters’ reporters in Baghdad say.

    However, given that I’m never going to Baghdad (let alone Baghdad during an insurgency), I’m loathe to second-guess MM on who she talks to and where she goes while she’s there. For all I know, she did talk to journalists and others who were only willing to speak off-the-record. I doubt that any journalist in Baghdad right now wants to get into a spitting contest with other journalists. They have enough problems to worry about as it is.

    DRJ (e69ca7)

  22. In addition, Ed, I agree that someone needs to interview Khalaf and provide quotes. It’s possible that Khalaf has refused to give further interviews because the Iraqi government wants to make peace with the AP – and I can see why. Who needs the AP sniping at every government action?

    On the other hand, it’s also possible no journalist has been interested in buttoning down a quote because it might make the AP look bad. Discrediting one professional – in this case the AP journalists – may taint all journalists. There’s no incentive for institutional journalists to track down this story.

    Still, it does concern me that we haven’t heard anything more of substance from Khalaf, let alone Jamil and the AP’s reporters who relied on Jamil.

    DRJ (e69ca7)

  23. Ed,

    One final point. I don’t think there is a generalized conspiracy at the AP although I guess it’s possible.

    I suspect the AP’s Baghdad reporters acquired an apparently reputable source (Jamil, a police officer) who provided reports of violence that seemed based on fact, especially his initial reports. As time went on, the stories became more shocking and violent, and less verifiable. Perhaps the AP reporters began to question some of what they were told but they probably didn’t want to lose their source, both because Jamil had provided reliable stories (especially of isolated incidents of violence against Shiites in mixed or Sunni neighborhoods) but also because Jamil’s reports provided the AP with stories of violence against Sunnis that balanced the Shia atrocities dominating the news.

    IMHO, the AP reporters probably bent a few rules and ended up in a downward spiral that they were unable to stop. If so, it’s a tragic story that journalists generally love to report – but only when it happens to those in government, business, or other institutions.

    DRJ (e69ca7)

  24. I realize you can dispatch “Reporting For The Enemy” posts from either home or the Green Zone. Much easier to raise the ante over there, though.

    Steven Hurst’s reaction goes to the case she’s laboring to build. As does a follow-up on AP’s Bilal Hussein, whom Michelle implies staged photographs in collusion with the enemy and “has blood on his hands.” Again, the U.S. military raised the spectre and she laments a “cover-up.”

    It’s good she went and I’m obviously being too anal.

    Ed (1c66cc)


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