I’ve been getting a fair amount of hostile comments regarding an earlier post in which I discussed an AP story that accused half the American population for being delusional because it belived that Iraq did have WMDs. I’ve updated that post to support my belief that Iraq had WMDs at relevant times and to note that the definition of a WMD seems to have become something of a moving target in the debate.
In any event, there’s another reality challenge and Reuters has fallen on its sword. Charles Johnson, at Little Green Footballs, led the charge to expose the fact that one of Reuters’ Lebanese photographers was doctoring photographs to increase the perception that Israel’s attacks were disproportionate. Unlike CBS, which could point to backroom deals in Texas copy centers, Reuters had nowhere to go, and did the right thing: it admitted the photographs’ falsity:
Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.
Global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi called the measure precautionary but said the fact that two of the images by photographer Adnan Hajj had been manipulated undermined trust in his entire body of work.
“There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image,” Szlukovenyi said in a statement.
“Reuters has zero tolerance for any doctoring of pictures and constantly reminds its photographers, both staff and freelance, of this strict and unalterable policy.”
The news and information agency announced the decision in an advisory note to its photo service subscribers. The note also said Reuters had tightened editing procedures for photographs from the conflict and apologised for the case.
Removing the images from the Reuters database excludes them from future sale.
Reuters ended its relationship with Hajj on Sunday after it found that a photograph he had taken of the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on suburban Beirut had been manipulated using Photoshop software to show more and darker smoke rising from buildings.
I have to say, while Photoshopping seems to be a new approach to the disinformation campaign emanating from the Middle East, I’m not entirely surprised. Others more astute than I, early in the Iraq war, began commenting that, by some amazing coincidence, there was often a photographer on hand when an IED went off. Last year, the Obsidian Order, which now seems to be defunct, did a long post on some amazing car bomb coincidences. (I can’t get the pictures to load, and don’t know if that’s my problem or a problem with the post.)
The fact is that the photographers from whom Reuters, AP, et al buy their war photos often seem to be, not Western employees, but stringers who are members of the communities in which the photos are taken. On the one hand, that gives them access to the inner workings of their own communities, and it certainly makes them affordable. On the other hand, I think it imposes extra obligations on the news agencies to make sure that these locals are not letting their biases affect their photos, that they are not using their proximity to create propaganda moments, and that they are not actively doctoring photos or faking scenes to promote a political agenda.
UPDATE II: Thomas Lifson, at American Thinker, has a lyrical article describing Reuters’ origins and its current downfall. It’s a great synthesis of current information about Photogate, as well as an elegant analysis of what Photogate means.
UPDATE III: More from Power Line about Hajj photos that may be staged.
UPDATE IV: The fake Jenin massacre is one of the more masterful media manipulations. Gerry Charlotte Phelps links to a blog that has a video that an Israeli drone allegedly took of one of the Jenin “corpses” being carried off from the scene of the “massacre.” It keeps falling of the stretcher, and then panics the surrounding people by getting back on by itself. I don’t know if the footage is real. Certainly, if it is, I don’t know why Israel held onto it so long. Still, if Israel is finally fighting back against faked and staged stories, better late than never.