Thursday, August 10, 2006

House of Cards

The best way I've found to tell how far any major blogosphere story has penetrated the real world is to ask MacDaddy if he's heard anything about it. He's what I'd consider an average Canadian news watcher (meaning pretty light), and while about as far left as you can get on most social issues, he's still what I'd consider a pretty impartial observer. So when I asked him if he had heard anything about recent issues with Reuters problems with their photographers I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he had. Of course he was only aware of the big one that blew the cover off this whole mess, but hey it's a start.

Just for those not keeping score at home here is a brief rundown on just a few of the Reuters/AP/MSM photo scandals from the last week or two.

1) Originally there was the Qana photo story. While not doctored as some other photos have been, this was one of the first big stories to imply a strong likelihood of photo staging. Pay special attention to the man in the helmet, or Green Helmet Guy, as he is now affectionately know through out the blogosphere; he has a habit of showing up to parade around bodies at the sites of 'Israeli atrocities' throughout Southern Lebanon.

2) This can be considered part 1.b as it is a video, captured from German TV, actually showing GHG doing exactly what he was being accused of in point 1, staging the corpses of victims for better photo ops.

3)Ever have that feeling of deja vu? Try these AFP/Reuters shots on for size then. You may wonder, like the rest of us, what the IDF has against the owner of this particular house as according to the captions they reduced it to rubble not once, not twice but three separate times from July 18th to August 5th.

4)Not to be outdone, the New York Times decided to send their own photographers out into the field to create fake news. You'd think the fact the 'bombing victim' is relatively dust free, holding his hat and walking around in the other photos in the series would have been a bit of a hint for a savvy editor of one of the worlds largest newspapers. Apparently not. You know how newspapers just love to have exclusives and when it comes to fake news no one has a better track record than the New York Times.

5)At least U.S. News and Time magazine didn't use the pictures of any fake victims opting instead to do their best to fabricate a fake Hezbollah victory (scroll down). As it turns out, the 'downed Israeli fighter' (as claimed by TIME) burning Beirut to the ground in the background is actually a tire fire at a dump believed to have been started by a Hezbollah rocket accident. "No Israeli Planes were Injured in the Making of this Photo Op".

6)The AP then jumps into the fray with this photo series showing another child who was killed at the hands of the IDF. Once again, the only problem was that the child had actually been killed earlier in a playground accident and not by any Israeli attack. It's one more sad example of just how willing people are to use dead children as propoganda props.

7) And of course, the one that started it all, the 'Beirut Burning' photoshop deal. Oddly enough, this is probably the most accurate photo of the bunch. While the only one confirmed to have been altered, at least it is a picture of an actual event taken on the day it says. I have no idea why Adnan Hajj (the photographer) felt the need to embellish the photo, as it is powerful enough in the original form, but I'm sure there are a lot of editors at Reuters, the AP and newspapers around the globe wish he had just left well enough alone.

This has all led to unprecedented moves. First Reuters killed the photoshopped picture of Beirut after admitting it was altered. Then after at first refusing to review any of Mr. Hajj's other photos they buckled and pulled all 900+ of his credited photos from their library. If you've been paying attention you will also notice that several of the controversial photos listed above are credited to Mr. Hajj. Apparently he's as willing to use a word processor to alter his photos as Photoshop.

While pictures have been questioned in the past, it wasn't until this obvious fraud made its way into the media stream unchecked that the facade of unbiased photojournalism was destroyed. In only a week more examples of blatantly false, misleading or staged photos have popped up than I could ever list here. All this while the supposed impartial journalists looked the other way. Even now most mainstream media outlets pay little more than lip service to a story that should be shaking their industry to the ground. If you can't trust the photographs that are so often used to show the story, what else can't you trust.

Check out Michelle's Vent on the matter.

Update:
Zombie has a great breakdown of some more Reuters specific frauds. Once again Mr. Hajj features prominantly.

Foremost among Zombies examples, this Jawa Report post on how, once again, Adnan Hajj, with his trusty word processor and Photoshop program, turns a single IDF fighter defensive flare into a barrage of missles being launched onto Lebonese targets.

Update II:
Another great video on the subject over at Aish.com (h/t JeffGannon.com)

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