E&P has a couple of pieces about Jamil Hussein. One chronicles Kathleen Carroll’s response as the Winning Party in this Vicious and Irresponsible Attack on the AP‘s Credibility:
“I never quite understood why people chose to disbelieve us about this particular man on this particular story,” Carroll told E&P, referring to Jamil Hussein, an Iraq police captain. “AP runs hundreds of stories a day, and has run thousands of stories about things that have happened in Iraq.”
Let me explain it to you Ms. Carroll. It would be because there are many reasons to doubt the story. They are listed here and in the links in that post. The fact that you actually have a source doesn’t mean your story was correct, any more than Dan Rather’s documents were correct because they were provided by a real person and not cooked up by CBS.
Here’s another one I forgot to mention in that post: despite your claim that Jamil Hussein had always been a source of reliable information, he had indeed previously provided you with facts that your own reporters were unable to verify.
At least Carroll doesn’t paint all conservative blogs with the same brush:
When asked what she though [sic — the spellchecker doesn’t catch that! — Ed.] of bloggers who criticize other media in light of this incident, Carroll would not condemn all of them. “I wouldn’t say bloggers are this unanimous group, there are smart and responsible blogs that help you and there are those who are water cooler blogs,” she said. “They are not any more monochromatic than the more conventional news media.”
Not so for E&P, which runs an incredibly dishonest piece painting Allahpundit and me as “Hussein doubters” — and insinuating that I said Allah had no reason to apologize for being a Hussein doubter. That is complete horseshit, as I was praising Allah for being appropriately skeptical of the conservative claims regarding Hussein’s status as a policeman. Allah warned conservatives weeks ago that there could be a mix-up with names, and not to get carried away with claims about Hussein’s existence. I issued several caveats myself, repeatedly warning bloggers not to concentrate on claims of Hussein’s nonexistence. By painting Allah (and me) in a false light, E&P is on the same level as folks like Eric Boehlert, who misquoted See Dubya and falsely claimed that he’d never expressed any sympathy for a killed AP reporter. Apparently these people believe that if they feel that they are on the right side of the issue, they can say any damn thing they please about anyone, and no research is required.
I respond to this E&P piece in UPDATE x6 of this post, which sets forth many of the caveats Allahpundit and I had about assuming Jamil Hussein didn’t exist — caveats that we began to express on November 30, the first day that the Iraqi government gave us specific reason to doubt their claims on this issue.
There’s no question that I initially believed the MOI’s assertions and took them as fact. If you ask an employer whether someone works for them, you normally expect them to know. It’s obvious that believing them — and especially reporting their claims as fact in a post on November 27 — was a mistake on my part, as I have already acknowledged. I reversed my attitude of unquestioning acceptance within three days, but I should not have been so unquestioning to begin with. Mea culpa. It’s a good lesson for the future to be more skeptical of all sources. At this point I don’t think I’d accept the Iraqi government’s word about anything.
But that doesn’t excuse E&P painting cautious bloggers like Allah as being wild-eyed Hussein doubters. Allah is (in the words of my pal See Dubya) the conscience of the conservative blogosphere, and spends a lot of time trying to rein in some of the more rabid bloggers. He won’t say so, but E&P’s characterization of him as a rabid Hussein doubter is patently unfair. Not that they care.
Dafydd ab Hugh [UPDATE: Actually Sachi — see UPDATE below] has a monster post on this which is worth a read. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in it — you have to say that nowadays, or people will point to your link as a “favorable link” and attribute every last link in the other person’s post to you. Just another item from their bag of tricks they use to distort people’s words and slander them.
Finally, Allah has said, extensively, that questioning war reporting is not the same as saying everything is hunky-dory about the war. It quite obviously is not. Allah’s comment on this is worth reposting:
The only thing that really annoys me about the left blindly defending the AP here is the argument, made most emphatically by Eric Boehlert, that we’re using this incident somehow as a fig leaf for how bad things are in Iraq. If the AP turns out to be lying, the theory goes, we’ll declare all reportage from Iraq suspect by extension and conclude that things aren’t nearly as dire as they seem to be. Which, of course, is patent nonsense. There are Shiite death squads operating in hospitals in Iraq; if you knew nothing else about the country, you could glean from that fact alone how unspeakably horrible conditions are throughout the country.
We’re not using this story as a fig leaf for the war. On the contrary, it’s Boehlert — the same guy who wrote a book claiming that the media is, giggle, right-wing — who’s using the war as a fig leaf for the AP’s anti-American bias. According to him and his pals, to challenge the veracity of this story is to be guilty, essentially, of historical revisionism, of denying the brutality Iraqis are facing. Oh sure, they say en passant, if the AP got it wrong they should be called on the carpet for it — while in the same breath they dismiss the charges as a “smear campaign” or “baseless” or whatever conclusory pronouncement you prefer. They don’t care if the AP blew it or not. They say they do because they know they have to. It’s purely pro forma.
The truth is, and you can see this in Boehlert’s piece or Tom Zeller’s piece in the Times a few weeks ago, they think the AP story is true in the Larger Sense, as a microcosm of the brutality in Iraq, even if it’s not, you know, technically true. Which, my friend, is just another way of saying “fake but accurate.” That’s precisely the line they’re taking on this story, which is why it’s so outrageously disingenuous of them to pretend to give the slightest shit about whether Jamil Hussein is real or not. As far as they’re concerned, if he’s real, the story’s true; if he isn’t real, the story’s True. Heads they win, tails we lose. And the AP, if it’s guilty of bad facts to whatever greater or lesser degree, gets an almost completely free pass. It’s more important that Michelle Malkin be wrong, you see, than finding out if the world’s biggest news agency is passing off crap stories about the most important issue of our time. Repulsive.
Mark my words: unless Danziger comes back with a categorical denial that Jamil Hussein exists, they’ll trumpet whatever facts about him redound to the AP’s advantage even if on balance the AP looks bad. For instance, if it turns out he exists but he’s not a real cop, the news on the lefty blogs will be “HE EXISTS.” And then they’ll set about showing why it’s not a big deal that he’s not a real cop, even though the AP has been claiming he’s a real cop for months now. Anything they can do to shore up the AP’s credibility, any argument they can make, they’ll do it, because like I said above, that’s what this is really about — protecting the left-wing media from a credible charge of malfeasance, even though it wouldn’t mean much in the grander scheme of how awful things are in Iraq.
By the way, my comment in response to that read:
Did anyone ever claim that the AP had just made up this guy out of whole cloth?
I completely agree with Allah’s take on this. Things in Iraq are bad. In fact, in some ways, things may be worse than many realize, largely due to our decision to repeat the failures of the end of the Vietnam war. Nobody responsible is saying everything is great there, and the lefties who claim that we are, are liars. Pure and simple.
UPDATE: The Dafydd ab Hugh post is actually by Sachi — which means, Dafydd tells me, that Sachi wrote the first draft, and Dafydd did the editing and added about 1/3 of the content, spread throughout the piece. Dafydd tells me that every “Sachi” post is a collaboration along those lines.
UPDATE x2: OK, I’d better clarify that as well. Dafydd writes to say that my UPDATE might falsely suggest that Sachi doesn’t write her own stuff:
I assure you that normally, I merely *edit* what she wrote; I don’t rewrite it! All the core ideas, the
structure, the specific examples, the basic phrasing, and the research was Sachi’s.
When I edit Sachi (or anyone else), I rephrase somewhat here and there; I find a great argument that she buried and unbury it; I tell her she
needs to find some links to justify such and such (but I don’t find them for her: she’s perfectly capable of finding them, and I’m perfectly
capable of being the laziest slob on the face of the planet!); I tell her places she needs to sharpen her focus, because I don’t quite
understand what she’s driving at; I often make her rewrite… just like a newspaper editor.
Sorry for the confusion.