The hornet’s nest has really been riled up now. The NYT came out with an article today, backing the AP in its “rigorous” reporting, and bashing bloggers who question it:
For bloggers who believe that the media has been drawing false pictures of mayhem in Iraq, the insistence of the American military and Iraqi officials that the burning incident appeared to be a mere rumor was proof that their suspicions were correct.
“Getting the News From the Enemy” was how the Flopping Aces blog (floppingaces.net) tracked the developing face-off between the military and A.P.
Iraq’s interior ministry wielded the article like a bludgeon and used it as an opportunity to create a press monitoring unit that suggested, in no uncertain terms, that reporters in Baghdad should come to its press officers for “real, true news.” A ministry spokesman promised “legal action” — whatever that might mean — against journalists who publish information the agency deemed wrong.
That may seem patently absurd.
What is really absurd, is they way they re-frame the facts. The press conference was not to say that the military is the only source of real news, but to tell us if the sources the MSM has been using are in fact who they say they are (i.e., Iraqi police).
Whatever the agenda of the bloggers most interested in debunking the article, it somehow seems important to figure out why this incident — in the face of all the killings in Iraq — remains in such dispute.
The “agenda” is to get the truth out of Iraq. Why is that so hard? Why is it the agenda of the NYT to defend the AP, even when their own NYT Iraqi correspondent is questioning the story? (Email to Tom Zeller, author of today’s NYT article):
Hi Tom, You ask me about what our own reporting shows about this incident. When we first heard of the event on Nov. 24, through the A.P. story and a man named Imad al-Hashemi talking about it on television, we had our Iraqi reporters make calls to people in the Hurriya neighborhood. Because of the curfew that day, everything had to be done by phone. We reached several people who told us about the mosque attacks, but said they had heard nothing of Sunni worshippers being burned alive. Any big news event travels quickly by word of mouth through Baghdad, aided by the enormous proliferation of cell phones here. Such an incident would have been so abominable that a great many of the residents in Hurriya, as well as in other Sunni Arab districts, would have been in an uproar over it. Hard-line Sunni Arab organizations such as the Muslim Scholars Association or the Iraqi Islamic Party would almost certainly have appeared on television that day or the next to denounce this specific incident. Iraqi clerics and politicians are not shy about doing this. Yet, as far as I know, there was no widespread talk of the incident. So I mentioned it only in passing in my report. Best, Ed Wong
Zeller linked to this email in his blog last week. In today’s article defending the AP and its story, he makes NO mention of it. Why? Would it make it harder for him to skewer the little annoying bloggers who are expecting him to do his job?
Via Flopping Aces, go to that post to read the whole sordid affair, and see all the other “blogs raging on…”.