Exploiting the Reuters incident

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. Exploiting the Reuters incident

    It is indisputably wrong for a media outlet to alter photographs or other information so as to falsely represent what is being reported. That is beyond dispute. Yet for three straight days now (and still going strong), the right-wing blogosphere has been wallowing in a self-celebratory swarm because two photographs taken in Lebanon and published by Reuters were found to have been altered using Photoshop by the freelance photographer who submitted them. Rush Limbaugh has now joined the party, decreeing that "Reuters ought to be investigated." (The frequency with which Bush supporters call for media organizations to be investigated because of what they report is itself notable.)

    Given the intensity and duration of the blogospheric mob scene fueled by the Reuters discovery, one would think that this event demonstrates some sort of important point beyond the particular photographer's poor judgment or deliberate deceit. But it is difficult to see what the point might be, to put it mildly.

    The alterations made to the original Beirut photograph appear to have increased the amount of smoke one sees in the photo, taken after a Beirut bombing raid, but the amount of smoke in the original unaltered photograph is itself quite substantial. Israel really is bombing Lebanon; buildings really are being destroyed; many Lebanese civilians really are dying; and nobody who is serious disputes any of that.

    These excited bloggers seem to be using the Reuters incident to try to "prove" that the dreaded "mainstream media" -- and Reuters has long been a special target for many extremists on the right (who sometimes refer to it as "al-Reuters") -- is hopelessly biased against Israel and in favor of Islamic terrorists, including Hezbollah, and that nothing the MSM reports about this war, or anything else for that matter, can be trusted. Many of these bloggers appear to hope that this incident will call into question the reliability of all reporting on the war outside of YTNews and Fox, including what happened in Qana, Lebanon, and any reports that reflect negatively on the Israeli war effort.

    But Reuters hardly has a monopoly on scandals of this sort. Quite the contrary, examples of photographic alterations and political distortions of evidence are abundant. The blogger TBogg today documents two instances of photographic manipulation -- one from the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, which cloned members of the military in the audience while the president was speaking, and another that used Photoshop to falsely depict John Kerry at an antiwar rally next to Jane Fonda.

    And then there was the complete misquoting by Fox News' Carl Cameron of John Kerry at the height of the 2004 campaign:

    "Move over Dan Rather, Fox News' Carl Cameron is joining you in the hoaxer hall of shame. Fox News' Web site posted a story written by its top political reporter yesterday with made-up quotes that painted Democratic presidential contender John Kerry as a spa-going girly-man."

    Ironically, one of the anti-Reuters lynch mob leaders, Little Green Footballs, defended Fox's publication of false Kerry quotes by arguing that Fox "pulled the article down and apologized for it the same day. That is, of course, how a responsible news organization handles a situation like this" (emphasis added). That, of course, is precisely what Reuters did with the altered photographs. In fact, the agency went much further by removing all of the photographs and announcing it will never use that photographer again. Fox, by contrast, refused to remove Cameron from covering the Kerry campaign and continues to employ him. Worse, Fox excused itself by claiming that publication of the fake quotes "occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice."

    And then there is the still-unsolved mystery of the identity of the pro-Iraq war advocates who created forged documents purporting to prove that Iraq sought 500 tons of uranium oxide ("yellow cake") from Niger -- complete fiction that made its way into Senate and presidential briefings, and then into the president's State of the Union address, helping to sell the invasion of Iraq.

    By all means, misleading photographs and other fabrications should be documented and exposed. But such scandals typically reflect little about anything beyond the culpable individuals involved.

    -- Glenn Greenwald

  2. I agree that the specific photos that were altered did not seem to be particularly egregious. In fact, it could be argued they had been altered more to make thme look better than to make the destruction look worse.

    The problem arises because the media is so sanctimonious, even as it is clearly biased, in this case against Israel. The media dismissed bloggers as "unprofessional" and "untrustworthy", so of course those same bloggers are going to point out the inconsistency, whether it is Dan Rather or this photographer.

    Certainly the liberal bloggers are quick to hop on meaningless or hyperbolic statements from Rush or Ann Coulter and try to generalize form them that everything they say is untrustworthy. So have a little of your own cooking.
  3. Arnie



    Don't you get it? It's the "seriousness of the charges" to quote a favorite line from your favorite party. :D
  4. Pekelo


    When I first saw the 2 pictures on TV next to each other, I quickly grabbed my magnifying glass and started to look for Waldo...
  5. While the photos were altered, they only modify the information that was presented, but kept the general impression of the situation.

    What I find much, much more disturbing and unethical is the mis-reporting of actual information itself. Not outright lying, but leaving out critical pieces of information. This then completely distorts the information and impression the readers get from the news.
  6. maxpi


    That is exactly how bias is perpetrated. Omission of facts, omission of whole stories, hard to detect without an overview, which cannot be gotten from biased media. I used to get a copy of Soldier of Fortune if I wanted an up-close view of a situation. They would go there, describe the armaments, usually sum up what the damn conflict was about in a few words and then I could get on with my life. Reading the LA Times for one example, has become impossible for me. The distorted headlines and first paragraphs and reading through all that shit to find the few facts buried somewhere is a complete waste of time and effort.

    I did not fully understand the extent of the bias until I was shown that the biggest march on Washington, a huge, huge anti-abortion rally, huge by any standards, perhaps the biggest one of all time, was never covered by any of the national media. That was twenty years ago, I shut that shit off then, never miss it. ABC, NBC, liberal press, all one sided piles of shit, and boring to boot.
  7. "What I find much, much more disturbing and unethical is the mis-reporting of actual information itself. Not outright lying, but leaving out critical pieces of information. This then completely distorts the information and impression the readers get from the news."

    I see you are discussing Fox News and the Drudge report.

  8. maxpi