Smoke and mirrors

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, August 8th, 2006
1:28 pm and is filed
under The War on Stupid.

Attack of the cloning toolThe wingnuts are furiously circle-jerking their way around a second lap of Reuters, having revealed that not one, but two photographs by Beirut-based freelance photographer Adnan Hajj had been altered.

The picture that kicked this off is a staggering show of incompetence on all fronts. I don’t know what the photographer was thinking when he clumsily cloned those clouds (perhaps it’s a clever viral for a certain online casino that’s sick of getting all the free press), or what Reuters were doing when they cleared this obvious forgery. I certainly have no idea what was running through the mind of the individual who sent a ‘death threat’ to the head wingnut at LGF from a Reuters server… but I do know ultra-bias and intellectual dishonesty when I see it, so please excuse me while I share:

1. Psst! You may not be familiar with the term ‘ultra-bias’… because I’ve just made it up. We need something snappy to describe the practice of operating with an agenda while insisting that all others remain ‘objective’ – i.e. that they present matters in a ‘fair’ manner that favours said agenda.

2. Some quick background for you; Little Green Footballs had this to say about my project ‘Chasing Bush’: A shady group of British peace creeps is planning to electronically stalk President George W. Bush during his visit to the UK: Chasing Bush. Isn’t that lovely. Maybe they’d also like to help Al Qaeda build their car bombs.

The comments contain more than one (ahem) death threat, but let’s stick with the ever-so-subtly-inferred charge by the webmaster; that I was enabling terrorists.

Bush came to this country on a State Visit. It wasn’t a talk or a summit, so it served no purpose beyond a boost to his ego and/or his campaign for a second term. That (still) no-one will admit to inviting him would suggest to anyone but the most ardent Bush-supporter that he invited himself. So that’s Bush who turned Iraq into a playground for terrorists, swept munitions into their hands and provided them with a never-ending stream of propaganda via the use of illegal detention and torture, lining up a photo-opportunity that puts him, Blair, the Queen and the British public in the frame… and in the firing line. The oft-repeated charge that we were helping Al Qaeda to target our beloved leaders and/or place the public at risk contains more than one lie, but the common thread in all of them is the careful and knowing manipulation of the terrorist threat for political gain… and the core message is as follows:

The liberal protestors are in league with the terrorists!

3. As telling as it is, this is just one single run-in. The wingnuts and Reuters, however, go way back and past findings would suggest that… (steel yourselves):

The liberal media are in league with the terrorists!

OK, preliminaries sorted. Let’s press on:

(clears throat)
(sips water)

Here’s Little Green Footballs kicking things off, here’s way too much analysis of an obviously doctored image and here’s Michelle Malkin connecting her private dot collection. Even at this stage there are early mutations that seem to suggest that any visual proof of Israeli overkill is an invention (a later version of this same ‘joke’ appears here).

Reuters nix the image, and quickly withdraw all 920 photographs by Adnan Hajj from their database.. Only 43 of these images were filed with the Reuters global pictures desk since the start of this conflict, but there’s no prizes for guessing how often the number ‘920’ is favoured ahead of ’43’ following this withdrawal. Here’s one typical entry and here’s one blogger carefully noting the ’43’ on one day before switching back to the far more useful figure of ‘920’ the next.

Scale is important…. as is scope. While a number of attempts are made to link Adnan Hajj to a wider terrorist-led conspiracy, more wingnuts busy themselves with the other 43 920 images… The Jawa Report try and fail early on before hitting paydirt with this image and a further admission by Reuters.

Before any of this happened, EU Referendum was busily beavering away highlighting the ‘staged’ nature of images of children killed in Qana. One of the photographers involved was… Adnan Hajj.

Result? Cox & Forkum helpfully link the two items here and suddenly (and quite accidentally) we have a widely-distributed suggestion that images of dead children are being photoshopped into existence.

By now it’s hit the mainstream… and Rush Limbaugh has more than enough ammo to run with a ‘tip of the iceberg’ rant against ‘big media’, peaceniks, Jew-hating terrists, etc. etc. etc., taking us to the centre of this perfect storm, where the impression is hammered home time and time again that Israel’s disproportionate response is nothing but an invention of the liberal media (who are, of course, in league with the terrorists).

Job done. Objectivity restored. You may return to your homes.

UPDATE – A related link regarding the ‘liberal’ media. (via)

UPDATE – Liberal media strikes again. (via)

UPDATE (14 August) – BSSC – Double Double Effect: This video contains scenes which some may find disturbing. It’s called “Green Helmet acting as cynical movie director in Qana” and that’s a fairly accurate description of what it shows. It does not in any way alleviate the moral responsibility of those who killed the innocent child shown. Clearly, this video is being used as part of a coordinated effort to distract and deflect attention from what Israel is actually doing to Lebanon.

UPDATE (21 August) – Independent – America’s one-eyed view of war: Stars, stripes, and the Star of David (mirror): Often, the coverage has been hysterical and distasteful. In the days following the Israeli bombing of Qana, several pro-Israeli bloggers started spreading a hoax story that Hizbollah had engineered the event, or stage-managed it by placing dead babies in the rubble for the purpose of misleading reporters. Oliver North, the Reagan-era orchestrator of the Iran-Contra affair who is now a right-wing television and radio host, and Michelle Malkin, a sharp-tongued Bush administration cheerleader who runs her own weblog, appeared on Fox News to give credence to the hoax – before the Israeli army came forward to take responsibility and brought the matter to at least a partial close… Part of the Republican strategy this year is to attack any media that either attacks them or has the temerity to report facts that contradict the official party line. Thus, when Reuters was forced to withdraw a photograph of Beirut under bombardment because one of its stringers had doctored the image to increase the black smoke, it was a chance to rip into the news agency over its efforts to be even-handed. In a typical riposte, Michelle Malkin denounced Reuters as “a news service that seems to have made its mark rubber-stamping pro-Hizbollah propaganda”.

UPDATE (6 Sep) – Robert Fisk – The lies, the threats, the hypocrisy… Does one sigh with weariness or rage at such dishonesty?: So you can see how Hizbollah are planning their post-war narrative. They never intended the Lebanese to suffer, but they were anyway going to suffer later and, besides, Hizbollah won… But equally pernicious is the utterly false narrative which the Israelis and their supporters are now preparing for the world, one which includes all the old lies about the anti-Semitism of reporters and the involvement of the Red Cross in terrorism… The lies against the press by Israel’s friends are as predictable as they are vile.

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