U.S. Bloggers really hung the news agency Reuters out to dry – and about time.
They caught them doctoring a photograph of downtown Beirut after an attack by the Israeli air force.
Reuters had added an extra amount of smoke and a few extra buildings to make the bombing look more serious and more severe than it really was.
Reuters has admitted the doctoring, done by computer software, and blamed the photographer, one Adnan Hajj, who now has been fired.
He is the same Reuters cameraman who was accused of doctoring photos after an Israeli air attack on the Lebanese town of Qana.
That picture showed a man, standing in rubble, holding a dead girl, a small child, aloft for the camera lens. A picture taken at 7:21 am shows the dead girl being held above an ambulance. A picture three hours later, at 10:25am, shows the same girl being loaded in the same ambulance. Another photo, taken 20 minutes later, shows the same child being carried by a Lebanese rescue worker, no ambulance in sight.
This propaganda, aided by news photographers, is typical of Hezbollah and their friends. When they report civilian casualties in Lebanon they invariably double the actual figure.
I myself noticed that original press accounts, which had people in a fury last week, had 70 or so people dead in an Israeli bombing, many of them children. The true figure tuned out to be 34, about half.
The blog sites that uncovered the photo manipulation were “Little Green Footballs”, “Left & Right” and “The Ace of Spades.”
“Little Green Footballs” is run by Charles Johnson.
Johnson is supportive of Israel, at least relative to the jihad against it, and critical of terrorist groups.
In the early summer Johnson got a death-threat by email.
It said, “I look forward to the day when you Zionist pigs get your throats cut.”
Johnson traced the email through a series of diversionary covers and found that it came from a Reuters News Agency e-mail account in London.
After Johnson raised Hell, Reuters admitted it came from an employee and they suspended him, or her, but refused to identify the person and reported nothing about the incident. They did claim the employee was not in their news department. But Reuters is in the news business itself, news is it’s raison d’etre. The sending of death threats on the computer system of a major corporation isn’t a news story? If it had been an employee of General Motors, for example, caught sending threatening emails to Ralph Nader would they cover it? Well, I guess so.
By the way, it was Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs who played a huge role in exposing the phony documents on CBS –the forgeries about George Bush - that got Dan Rather and his producer canned.
An AP Beirut photo also has raised eyebrows.
A woman has made two different appearances in photographs used by the Associated Press and Reuters, wailing with arms outstretched over the destruction of her Beirut home.
US bloggers noticed that the photographs were taken two weeks apart from each other –the same woman, or her twin sister, but in two different locations.
"Either this woman is the unluckiest multiple home owner in Beirut, or something isn't quite right," noted the author of the Drinking From Home blog.
In the first photograph, taken by Reuters, the woman is seen in front of a bombed out building in Beirut.
"A Lebanese woman wails after looking at the wreckage of her apartment, in a building, that was demolished by the Israeli attacks in southern Beirut," Reuters said in its caption.
The photo was dated July 22 2006.
A second photograph of a woman who looks exactly like the woman in the first Reuters image, even bearing the same scar on her left cheek, is then supplied by the Associated Press.
"A Lebanese woman reacts at the destruction after she came to inspect her house in the suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon," the Associated Press caption claimed.
The date accompanying the photograph is August 5 2006, and the scenes behind the woman show a different neighborhood.
The BBC, which has been notoriously anti Israel and anti-US in its war coverage, has removed the Associated Press image from its own website.
The Associated Press has so far not responded to requests by “Ynetnews” and others for an explanation of the mysterious time gap.
The BBC's website photo editor, one Phil Commes, has taken an uninterested line on the faked photographs from Beirut supplied by Reuters, saying: "One man's color balancing is another man's grounds for dismissal."
The New York Times offered a correction the other day on a photo they had run of a Lebanese man being hauled from the rubble of a destroyed building in Tyre.
The man looks dead or dying and the caption suggests it.
Bloggers noticed photos of the man taken later walking around uninjured.
Turns out he was a rescue worker and was not hurt in any attack.
Finally, there is US News & World Report.
Their cover on July 31st showed an armed man, described as a Hezbollah fighter near Beirut” He was standing in front of an ominous black plume of smoke.
Later it turned out that the smoke plumes came from the garbage dump in front of which he was posed, not from the implied Israeli bombing raid.
“Try not to let the facts get in the way of a good story,” as a city editor once said to a cub reporter.