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.