A Street Corner in Ramadi


Did the media fall for yet another insurgent information operation in Ramadi?

cnn video icon.JPG

Click to play CNN video of Ramadi incident. Original caption: "U.S. Marines beat back the largest attack in weeks by Sunni Arab insurgents in western city of Ramadi."

Last weekend, several news sources, including the Associated Press and CNN, reported a major insurgent attack on the provincial government headquarters in the heart of Ramadi. We reported the story on Sunday, with skepticism, noting "Insurgents have conducted false propaganda operations in the past, such as the incident in early December where the Associated Press reported a fake uprising based on stringers, so the possibility exists this report is false as well."

The purported incident in Ramadi never made the press releases at either Multinational Forces-Iraq or CENTCOM. The Associated Press has a reporter (Todd Pitman) embedded with the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Mr. Pitman's blog is called AP Blog From Ramadi, Iraq, and the site has not been updated since April 7th. An inquiry to Captain Alfred Smith, the Public Affairs Officer from the 2/28th Brigade Combat Team, which runs Ramadi, produced the following reply; "There was some action , a little more active than the norm but just another day for us." This Week in Iraq, a Coalition bulliten, has a brief description of a fight in Ramadi but nothing like the media accounts.

Original caption from The Examiner: Unidentified masked gunmen fire at a government building, in Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 14, 2006. Gunmen fired three mortar rounds targeting a U.S base and a government building on Tuesday in Ramadi. Police said one civilian was killed during an exchange of fire between gunmen and U.S. forces. [Click to enlarge.]

At first glance, it appears the media has fallen for yet another enemy Information Operation. But there is more.

A reader in Holland notes some curiosities between a video from last weekend's purported Ramadi attack taken on April 8th and a photograph taken in Ramadi on March 14th. Study the video, then the photo, and you will see both of these images were taken at the exact same street corner in Ramadi, and shot from an identical angle. Note the awning, the poles, the two 'booths', even the stance of the 'insurgents' and the direction which they are firing. This is without a doubt the same street corner in Ramadi. The video and photo are obviously taken at two different points in time (note the umbrella in the video, as well as the different dress of the insurgents). (You'll have to watch the video to get the full effect as I was unable to capture a screen shot for a photo comparison.)

And there is yet another photograph from the same street corner in Ramadi, this time from a different angle. Note the red riot-shutters and the 'Sharp' advertising on the building. The photograph was taken at the end of February of 2005 and published in The Global Beat, which is a self described "resource for the global journalist.". This street corner is quite popular with insurgents and 'photojournalists'.

Photo taken in February, original caption: Iraqi insurgents prepare to meet an assault by U.S. troops at Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Despite the U.S.-sponsored elections, the insurgency continues unabated, and has accelerated in recent weeks.

What are the odds video and photographs from two different incidents of insurgent attacks are taken from the nearly exact same perspective? Was the photographer/cameraman the same person? How did he know to be at this particular location at this particular point in time? How is the third photograph, taken from the exact same location over one year ago explained? Did the insurgency dig deep into their propaganda libraries?

The Associated Press has a reporter embedded with the Marines in the heart of Ramadi, the same Marines who would have "fought back with anti-tank rockets, machine guns and small-arms fire," and called in airstrikes from F/A-18s. Did they bother to ask him about this incident, or did they merely rely on a stringer to provide potentially doctored video? CNN's caption for the video is "U.S. Marines beat back the largest attack in weeks by Sunni Arab insurgents in western city of Ramadi." Did they really?

Also Read:

The National Journal's Neil Munro provides a comprehensive roundup of the media's dealings with stringers as photojournalists. A quote of interest:

Patrick Baz, AFP's photo director for Iraq, is based in Cyprus. He said in an interview, "We don't hire them for [their skills as] reporters; we hire them because we can't go there.... We teach them and try to explain to them what a real reporter is. Some become real reporters, some do it for money, some are involved in the insurgency ... or terrorist activities, but we stop them when we find them going too far."

Also, Michelle Malkin notes that Associated Press "photojournalist" Bilal Hussein, who has a long history of taking pictures for insurgents, took the second photo displayed in this post. She received a tip Bilal Hussein " was captured earlier today by American forces in a building in Ramadi, Iraq, with a cache of weapons." Developing...



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READER COMMENTS: "A Street Corner in Ramadi"

Posted by Marlin at April 12, 2006 3:32 PM ET:

Speaking of the MSM's coverage of the war, I came across a blog today written by one Pat Dollard, a Hollywood agent who quit that career to report from the front lines in Iraq. His take on the journalists he's met in Iraq isn't kind. He's also got some good photos from Ramadi.

--------------

The journalists I've met here, have, to a man, all been Democrats, and all have railed against the Bush administration and have, with much hope in their eyes, predicted failure for America in Iraq.

These have included Michael Phillips of the Wall Street Journal (the Journal's op-ed is conservative, it's news division is not, but the news divisions everywhere have taken it upon themselves to be shadow op-ed governments anyway), some chain-smoking fat-ass with an alcoholic's nose named Pat who told me he was "basically the Baghdad Bureau Chief for the L.A. Times", a dude named Casteneda who was covering Ramadi for the AP, et al. They all come here intending to shill for their party, and then they all shill for their party.

Hollywood, Interrupted: Entry Two - April 6, 2006

Posted by Sgt H. at April 12, 2006 3:32 PM ET:

It's difficult to say. The two corners have similarities and differences. Notice the CNN feed; the vehicle is a different color (white) from that of the still (red/maroon). The objects that look like a sort of vending stand along the curb have an umbrella shading them in the video feed, but do not in the still photograph. Could it be the discrepancies are a result of different stages of action during the same day; i.e., one vehicle departed and another arrived, or the umbrella was knocked over and out of site some how? Unknown. Or, this very well could be the same corner, just a different day.

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 12, 2006 3:40 PM ET:

Sgt H,

I explicitly stated in the post the images are from different days... "The video and photo are obviously taken at two different points in time (note the umbrella in the video, as well as the different dress of the insurgents)."

Posted by Colin at April 12, 2006 4:13 PM ET:

Is there another possibility? Could this just be one particularly busy corner in Ramadi? What buildings are around there? Is it possible that there is some kind of high value target around there, and that vantage point offers the best strategic position to attack it from?

For the record, I believe your assesment of the video. The most likely scenario is that the video was doctored or staged or something. I'm just laying out the arguments that someone who thinks the video is valid would say.

Posted by TallDave at April 12, 2006 4:36 PM ET:

This isn't that surprising. After all, doesn't AP stand for "Amusing Propaganda?"

I'm willing to bet anyone here could, with little effort, concoct such a story (with supporting video) and sell it to the AP who promptly would put it out on the wire.

Unless of course there was anything pro-US about it. Then it would be instantly dismissed as obviously fake propaganda.

Posted by TallDave at April 12, 2006 4:37 PM ET:

I don't see why the marines would allow this to go on being reported if it were not true without rebuttal.

Probably not high on their list of military priorities. I imagine they'll get to it eventually, though.

Posted by crosspatch at April 12, 2006 4:44 PM ET:

Actually, look at this picture from Feb. Same building, same alley

http://www.bu.edu/globalbeat/index022105.html

Posted by crosspatch at April 12, 2006 4:45 PM ET:

HA, thats from Feb 2005, not 2006!


So it looks like a lot of stock footage of this place has been taken over the years :)

Posted by Soldier's Dad at April 12, 2006 5:13 PM ET:

There is the sound of a machine gun in the video clip. The number of rounds being fired is too many for an AK or M-16. Presumeably, the machine gun fire is coming from the alley way. The car and umbrella are directly in front of the alleyway, and seem to be in outstanding condition. So if the machine gun fire is in fact real, it is being fired at a target other than the insurgents viewed in the video.

The electronics shop in the video and photo has been open recently, judging by the condition of the cardboard television boxes on the curb.

If one pauses the video repeatedly, the camera has a lot of motion, but the so called insurgents aren't moving around a lot.

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 12, 2006 5:24 PM ET:

Marlin,

I could tell a few tales about the media in Iraq, but i have this bad habit of treating private conversations as private...

Great find, Crosspatch, I have updated the post, many thanks...

Posted by Not Perfect at April 12, 2006 5:25 PM ET:

There is a report describing this incident in page 8 of "This week in Iraq" published by multi-national force.


It talks about "a coordinated insurgent assualt Saturday on the provicial governer's office in Ramadi."


Report continued, saying "Insurgents launched the sustained attack from several directions midday on the Government Center, said Capt. Andrew Del Gaudio, commander of 8th Marine Regiment's Company K, 3rd Battalion. ..."


Here is the link for the full report. You may experience problems opening it. Try two three times.

http://www.mnf-iraq.com/Publications/TWII/current.pdf

Posted by david Hardy at April 12, 2006 6:25 PM ET:

Nice American offers you much bucks for video or stills of combat. Getting real images can be dangerous. So you get a coupla buddies with AK-47s to stage it for you, and collect your cash. Probably lots. Networks sell stock footage for upwards of $40 per *second*, and stringers can claim they're putting their lives on the line. $40/second US ... probably a fortune in Iraq.

Reason for the same location in many shots might be simple. The one drawback to this scheme is that neighbors will get hacked off at the ricocheting bullets, might expect you to pay for whatever you just shot up. They seem to be shooting down an alley, and we have no clue what's down there. It might lead to the open countryside, an abandoned building that no one cares whether it is damaged, or some other feature that results in no claims for property damage.

Even the black hoods might be a way of hiding the fact that every scene shows the stringer's cousins. It'd be pretty obvious if the footage was all from the same place and with the same 2-3 "insurgents."

Posted by Kirk at April 12, 2006 6:26 PM ET:

this reminds me of faked video of israelis shooting at palestinians in a video called "pallywood". can be seen here:
http://www.seconddraft.org/movies.php
no doubt the same thing is happening in Iraq.

Posted by Twok at April 12, 2006 6:29 PM ET:

The good news is, the military is adapting to the need to wage war even under the burden of the media effectively acting as a fifth column (subconsciously or otherwise). This will help us in future wars, and is a capability no other country has (as they have not been subjected to this).

Posted by Shaun Bourke at April 12, 2006 6:43 PM ET:

The Feb 2005 picture referenced looks to me to feature a white Westerner 'sorta' dressed in terrorist gard strutting for the camera, most likely a Jurno dubbing for a terrorist in a staged shot.

In the other picture I would not like to be the 'terrorist' in the blue shirt, unless of course his partner is firing blank rounds.

Posted by Soldier's Dad at April 12, 2006 6:46 PM ET:

Not Perfect,

The Marine "Version" has the insurgents firing from positions in abandoned buildings. The CNN video has the insurgents firing from "photo op" corner.

From the mnf-iraq link -

"During the fighting, insurgents took
up positions in several destroyed
buildings and a nearby mosque"

Judging by the boxes out front of "Mahmoods" Electonics Shop, I don't think "Mahmoods" qualifies as an abandoned building or mosque.

Posted by Jerry Hurtubise at April 12, 2006 6:48 PM ET:

Am I nuts, or is that skinny armed, white skinned, cargo pants and Reeboks wearing guy not exactly "Islamic terrorist" material? WTF?

Posted by Twok at April 12, 2006 7:09 PM ET:

Jerry,

You are right. He might be an American fifth-columnist , similar to John Walker Lindh..

Posted by Fungo at April 12, 2006 7:14 PM ET:

"Has fell?" I think you mean, "has fallen." If you're going to play reporter, for God's sake learn grammar!

Posted by Twok at April 12, 2006 7:19 PM ET:

Fungo,

I take it you have no dispute with the THEME of Bill's article?

Posted by crosspatch at April 12, 2006 7:42 PM ET:

Something else rings odd with me in the video ... notice at the start there are two guys hanging out on the sidewalk all casual-like just off the left side. Every once in a while the camera will jiggle and you can see them. Eventually one of them walks over to the "insurgents" and seems to be looking down the alley at whatever it is they are shooting at while the other guy hangs around on the sidewalk.

I don't know what is going on in that video but it is NOT a firefight. Maybe a firepower display but for sure not a firefight. Not a single window gets shot out of the car behind the "insurgents" and unarmed spectators appear to be casually watching what is going on.

Tell you what, a real firefight breaks out near me and I am unarmed, I am going to make myself REALLY small and not walk out into the middle of they alley to see what they are shooting at. Bogus. Completey bogus.

Posted by crosspatch at April 12, 2006 7:51 PM ET:

If I were to venture a speculation about what is going on it would be this:

Sometimes things get a little slow or a little too dangerous for the stringer but he needs some cash. He gets some of the neighborhood guys to put on some hoods and shoot down the alley for him. He turns in the video and collects his pay.

Posted by Tom W. at April 12, 2006 7:56 PM ET:

I know a reporter who told me that in journalism school, they're taught that there is no objective reality. We all experience the world based on our age, gender, religion, nationality, class, and--above all--race.

Since there is no objective reality, that means there's no such thing as objective truth. The truth is what we perceive it to be. Therefore, there is no such thing as staged material.

The insurgents are simply providing the AP with what they perceive to be their truth, and the AP will report it because the insurgents' truth is no more or no less valid than our truth.

To object to the AP reporting this material is to be judgmental and probably racist.

Posted by serurier at April 12, 2006 8:27 PM ET:

Like I said the media always support terrorists , In fact they are spies !

Posted by crosspatch at April 12, 2006 8:40 PM ET:

After looking at that video several more times, I have the suspicion that the guy off the left side in the brown vest is a photographer. I got that impression from watching him very carefully around the middle part of the video.

Also, notice this blog entry from June of 2005

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/004733.php

Also, look at the building in the background in this photo:

http://katu.com/news/images/story2005/050415insurgent.jpg

I could swear I have seen that before in other "insurgent" photos. That one is from April 2005

The plaid shirt sure looks familiar on this one:

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/124449.php

Anything look familiar here?

http://nandotimes.nandomedia.com/ips_rich_content/595-iraq2.jpg

How about here:

http://ridingsun.com/files/PosingInsurgent2a.JPG

I don't know, I am going to have a hard time believing anything out of Ramadi put out by the private news services.

I have seen this building in the background of other shots too, notice the guy carrying the video cam in this shot:

http://www.interet-general.info/IMG/Ramadi-26mars2005-1.jpg

Maybe some day when I have nothing to do I will sift through images/videos (dot) google/yahoo (dot) com and see what I come up with.

Posted by C.S. Scott at April 12, 2006 8:47 PM ET:

"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast." - General William T. Sherman

Posted by NOTR at April 12, 2006 8:59 PM ET:

Looks like they have learned the PLA lessons of "Pallywood." As you know, most of the video "evidence" that comes out of the Palestinian - Israeli conflict is doctored or worse, contrived.

The "why" this happens is easy to figure. Video is powerful stuff that readily influences people used to making their decisions and drawing conclusions based upon sound bites and video snippets.

Once established, a first impression is hard to refute no matter how convincing the evidence to the contrary of that impression. I suppose it was inevitable the Iraqi terrorists would use what has proven so successful for the PLA.

Posted by Soldier's Dad at April 12, 2006 9:56 PM ET:

Lisa,

"I think whomever is in charge of media for the Marines should clarify reports when they see that it is incorrect."

You mean like invite someone like Bill to embed and tell the truth, and as soon as Bill starts telling what he sees first hand , Bill gets accused of being part of some sort of military information operation by the Washington Post.

Posted by crosspatch at April 12, 2006 11:27 PM ET:

http://michellemalkin.com/archives/004976.htm

Ladies and gentlemen, this is just too much to believe in one day.

From the above link:

"A year ago, I blogged about a controversial, Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken by an unidentified Associated Press stringer in Iraq. More background from the blogosphere here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Do take the time to re-read them all. The context is important.

One member of the Pulitzer-winning AP team was AP stringer Bilal Hussein. Hussein's photos have raised serious, persistent questions about his relationship with terrorists in Iraq and whether his photos were/are staged in collusion with the enemy. I've learned of an intriguing news development that strengthens those lingering suspicions."

Posted by crosspatch at April 12, 2006 11:28 PM ET:

I didn't finish the post:

According to my tipster, Hussein was captured earlier today by American forces in a building in Ramadi, Iraq, with a cache of weapons.

Posted by The Liberal Avenger at April 12, 2006 11:35 PM ET:

The CNN caption is "U.S. Marines beat back the largest attack in weeks by Sunni Arab insurgents in western city of Ramadi." Isn't that pro-US/pro-military?

As for Malkin's nonsense, I don't think she "gets" war journalism. I also cannot see for the life of me why photographs of terrorists brutally executing innocent people are anything but horrible. How are such images pro-terrorist and anti-American? Do you look at them and feel a strange affinity for the insurgency? I sure don't.

Posted by crosspatch at April 12, 2006 11:51 PM ET:

"How are such images pro-terrorist and anti-American"

Because it is basically a psyops campaign against the US citizenry. If the message can be driven home that the mission in Iraq is hopeless, domsetic political pressure, it is hoped, causes US troops to be withdrawn and they do via the television and web page what they can't do militarilly. Whether it is a political defeat or a military one, it is a defeat just the same and if you can continue staging images that conveys "there's nothing US forces can do, all hope is lost, your mission is a failure" then it is quite possible it will become so. Read Zawahri's letters on that very subject.

And people with an anti-administration agenda are all too happy to play along because they would love nothing more than to see a Bush defeat even at the cost of thousands of US service member's lives because the political ends always justify the means for them. So in this case, the agenda of the terrorists and the agenda of the US domestic political agenda overlap to an extent and the political opposition is more than willing to distribute the terrorist propaganda as widely as possible. And yes, I am very obviously saying that AP does have a clear political agenda that is as clear as anything I have ever seen in my life.

Posted by tblubrd at April 12, 2006 11:55 PM ET:

I think you have hit on some good analysis Bill - I even sent out an email to my list of your report. And it appears that Michelle Malkin validates your claim and corroborates the photogrpher. The AP ought to be disbarred from the war front. Between the AP and CNN, the truth will drown a thousand times before real facts get in the eay.

Posted by eddiebear at April 12, 2006 11:56 PM ET:

#1:

Hate to jump in late, bt didn't a female reporter from the WSJ get in big trouble because she let fly with an email that was highly critical of Bush and the War while se was "reporting" from Iraq? Also, as for the WSJ, didn't an academic analysis tag them as the most liberal news publication? Yes, the op-ed is conservative, but as long as John Harwood runs the DC bureau for that paper, you get garbage like what Mr. Phillips spews out on a daily basis.


Posted by Baldy@LGF at April 13, 2006 12:16 AM ET:

The AP is the MSM. They are Owned by 1500 US Newspapers...

Posted by Critical Bill at April 13, 2006 12:17 AM ET:

I dont think they are the same place somehow. The red shutters are different ( wide slats vs narrow ) and writing is different above the doorways, plus different blocks at corner.
Im sure there are dozens of red shutterd shops selling Hitachi etc.

Having said that I dont doubt they use false video s propaganda.

Posted by Baldy@LGF at April 13, 2006 12:18 AM ET:

#40 eddiebear - Yes, I heard the same study that the WSJ is the most liberal (news). Their editorial pages have gone downhill since their new editor, BTW...

Posted by Sam at April 13, 2006 12:26 AM ET:

I find it curious that Lisa does not trust the mainstream media of today, but she does trust the mainstream media of the 1960's and 1970's.


Even more curious, is this claim:

"And people with an anti-administration agenda are all too happy to play along because they would love nothing more than to see a Bush defeat even at the cost of thousands of US service member's lives because the political ends always justify the means for them."


I would think the "anti-administration" people would be the anti-war people, and this guy thinks the anti-war people were all busy protesting before the war because they wanted to see people dead......... to justify some political end (what that end would be, I have no idea)...... so therefore, the anti-war people were secretly hoping for war and pushing for war, so that lots of people who die, and Bush would look bad.

Curious that people who are pacifists, like the Quakers, would want people to die from violence.....


I would say the lack of logical thought here is amazing.

Posted by Soldier's Dad at April 13, 2006 12:39 AM ET:

Liberal Avenger,

"The CNN caption is "U.S. Marines beat back the largest attack in weeks by Sunni Arab insurgents in western city of Ramadi." Isn't that pro-US/pro-military?"

I don't see it as a question of pro/anti US. The question is that the quality of information is compromised. How can I, as a voting citizen, make judgments based on rumor and propaganda.

Every day..in Iraq "gunmen" kill people. How many "gunmen". If it is one or two...for me..it is an Iraqi problem. If the ISF can't deal with a couple gunmen, then tough.

An awful lot of the violence in Iraq is 3 or 4 clowns riding around in a BMW just shooting people. This is a problem for the Iraqi police.

Whether it is 4 gunmen, or 40 gunmen makes a difference. 40 gunmen is a military problem. 4 is a local policing problem.

There are more than a few Iraqi's, who are more than happy to sit back and let the Americans do everything. Sorry, not my country. Germany and Japan are were post WWII successes, because the Americans set the conditions, but the Germans and Japanese actually did the hard work.

Many in Iraq...want the German and Japan success story, without doing the heavy lifting.

Every day "Gunmen" kill people in New York or Detroit or LA.

Posted by The Liberal Avenger at April 13, 2006 12:41 AM ET:

Aren't liberals guilty of misunderestimating the threat of "Islamofascism?" You're sending mixed signals here. I look at the photograph of a summary execution and say, "My god, these people are savages!" You've won me over to your side, right? Not so fast, though, because now you're also saying that being confronted with the violence associated with the war saps the American political will for prosecuting the war.

You guys have been so busy moving the goalposts and lying that you're beginning to confuse yourselves.

Maybe what you really mean to say is that the world should only trust 4 news sources: Scott McClellan, Voice of America, Stars and Stripes and Fox News.

Posted by The Liberal Avenger at April 13, 2006 12:43 AM ET:

...Soldier's Dad - we crossposted comments #45 and #46. My response (#46) was not directed to you or your comment (#45).

Posted by crosspatch at April 13, 2006 1:47 AM ET:

No, it isn't the "anti-war" people. It started with the sour grapes from the 2000 election. First they started blaming Bush for an economic recession that had started the previous spring during Clinton's last year in office and acelerated as the dot-com bubble burst. Our company had it's first layoff in December of 2000, after the election but before Bush took office. Then comes 9/11 and then Afghanistan. It was exactlty two weeks into Afghanistan when I first heard the words "quagmire" and "Vietnam". 9/11 hammered the economy even harder, especially the travel and tourism industries. All I heard was stuff like "2 million jobs lost since Bush took office" and no mention of the fact that the downturn started before his Administration.

But in any case, when it came to Iraq the Democrats had been on board with the fact that Saddam had WMD since at least 1998 and had never waivered ... UNTIL we went in. Then an about face. In the meantime, as you read coverage, every report must have something negative. It can be all negative, or it can have a positive which must then be followed by the obligatory negative but it must never be all positive. There's always that "however" buried in there.

AP is just pretty careful not to carry any positive news on the wire. Take a recent incident where AP comes out and says US troops entered a mosque and shot up a bunch of worshipers in Baghdad. The DoD had on their Defenselink Public Affairs web site a desctiption of what happened, nobody carried it. All they carried was a version apparently put out by the group that was the target of the attack claming that a bunch of worshipers had been shot up by US troops. Finally the Iraqi general that led the attack got himself an interview with the CBS Baghdad bureau. He explained that it was HIS troops, not US troops that went in there and that the nearest mosque was 6 blocks away and that they took fire from that room that reportedly contained "worshipers" and after fighting their way in there discovered a kidnapping gang and freed a hostage along with finding a large assortment of weapons. Nothing like the stories the wire services were distributing. I heard the interview. That was the last CBS ever mentioned of the incident. They carried the US kills people in a mosque story for nearly a week then broadcast the correct story once and shut up. If you weren't lucky enough to be tuned in when it aired, you missed it. Why is it that various militia information is regarded by our press to be more reliable than our own military? Why has out press so often acted as the mountpiece for insurgent groups by distributing their propaganda photos and stories? Why are organizations like AP "spring loaded" to believe bad news and be skeptical of good news?

It is, I believe, because the individual journalists writing the stories and the editors editing them and the publishers publishing them have a political agenda and are much more likely to believe something that validates their personal political agenda and are going to be skeptical of anything invalidating to their agenda because it is instinctively personally invalidating. Too many are unable to separate themselves from their product. They need to go after the truth, not tell a story the way they would want it to be.

Our population is fairly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. One reason for the demise of network news and newspapers and most cable news networks (except one) is that they alienate 50% of the population. The people watching are just drinking their own flavor of kool-aid and that feels good but you can be sure that 50% of the population isn't going to watch because they are constantly beating a political drum.

Right now the goal of the major media is to keep driving down Bush's approval numbers. They do this by making sure people hear plenty of bad and as little good as possible so when it comes time to make a decision and they weigh the information they have, they tip in the direction that these outlets want them to.

Newspaper Guild. Union of Journalists. Affiliated with the Communications Workers of America. CWA is the 8th all time largest political campaign donor in the US. They give 99% Democratic party, 1% Republican party. Ever hear of more than a token conservative at the Washington Post or NY Times or SF Chronical? And when they do have a conservative, they often have the most extreme possible viewpoint so as to nearly make them a laughing stock.

They have gone so far out there that they don't even realize they are alienating half of their potential audiance. Only half the people are even listening to them anymore. The more extreme they get, the less influence they have. But there is one thing that I hope will be sobering. When the shiites get this current prime minister buisness settled in Iraq and they have a government and things start to settle down and troops start leaving, word is going to start leaking out that maybe Bush was right and one thing Americans admire is someone who stands their ground and is vindicated in the end having made it though a tough time. His numbers could do an amazing about face and soar. Particularly if it comes out, as it is starting to now that documents and interviews are being released, that Bush had every reason to think there was WMD in Iraq.

But we shall see. In the meantime, the line between journalists and political activists is getting fuzzy and my respect for the trade is dwindling.

Posted by crosspatch at April 13, 2006 2:00 AM ET:

And one final thing ... papers that McClatchy bought from Knight-Ridder ... they are selling 11 of them. Papers like Philadelphia Inquirer and San Jose Mercury. The Newspaper Guild, the journalists union, is bidding on those papers. Tell me they won't have a political agenda in deciding how stories are presented and what gets presented. It must be hard as hell for a conservative journalism major to get a good grade in college, let alone a job at a major paper. Most of the people in the trade are extreme liberals. I know, I am married to one and I am exposed to her circle of colleagues and friends socially. I have to be most careful and diplomatic about what I say in those circles. Every single one of those people not only hate Bush but they hate the Republican Party and they are not at all bashful about it among their peers. Of course in public they would try to say they are open minded and fair but I know better.

Posted by AL at April 13, 2006 8:33 AM ET:

Bill,

Your readers might be interested in a series of posts I did on Bilal Hussein last year, highlighting his obvious direction of posing insurgents in Ramadi (whom my commenters thought looked decidedly unfamiliar with the weapons they were carrying).

http://sirhumphreys.blogspot.com/2005/10/ap-and-reuters-photographer-bilal.html
http://sirhumphreys.blogspot.com/2005/10/bbc-uses-propaganda-video-to-claim.html
http://sirhumphreys.blogspot.com/2005/10/koranic-verses-rescued-from-bullet.html

Posted by skipsailing28 at April 13, 2006 11:27 AM ET:

Let me wade into this for just a moment.

Bing West launches a scathing attack on the MSM in his great book "No True Glory". Basically he points out that since the major news outlets had no assets in Fallujah they relied heavily on feeds from Al Jazeera.

As a consequence of that the Arab propaganda machine was provided influence beyond thier wildest imagination.

the inflated casualty numbers, the endless repeats of carefully selected footage, the general tone and tenor of the news coverage was basically dictated by Al Jazeera.

so Liberal Avenger, was that malice or ineptitude?

when Al Jazeera showed footage of dead babies, did anyone at CNN ask "Who killed them?" Short answer, liberal avenger: NO.

doesn't the MSM have a market driven obligation to get it right? If the MSM decides that BS video is better than no video at all are they providing news or entertainment?

This is an information war and we have to confront two sad facts. The first is the Arab propensity to lie. Pallywood was a great expose about how the Arabs manipulate the media. Just think for a moment about the so called Jenin Massacre. A complete fabrication that the MSM swallowed hook, line and sinker.

The other sad fact is that the western media is basically dsyfunctional. I see two axes for this dysfunction.

First, we have overt agenda journalism. Michael Ware has an agenda. Period. The washington post and the NYT have agendas; this is clear in their daily offerings.

the next axis of dysfunction is the MSM's inability to decide if it's goal is reportage or entertainment. Choosing to rebroadcast uncorroborated stories because they are based on dramatic footage is simply entertainment. "Facts may be important but they can also be boring," Is what that says to me.

It is my opinion that the Military needs to get its PR operation on a war time footing. sure this will enrage the rabid left, but hell everything enrages those idiots.

if this war is to be fought, at least in part, in the media, we should be fighting to win. If the Arabs are highly skilled liars, let's just state that every day.

Right now the media seems to take everything an Arab say a fact while attempting to cast doubt on everything said by a westerner. that needs to change.

We've seen enough mayhem and duplicity to begin to understand how the Muslim/Arab culture functions. Let's start calling BS on some of this BS.

Posted by Soldier's Dad at April 13, 2006 6:14 PM ET:

Lisa,

"I am glad you find that curious because I find it curious that you pretend that this is not like Vietnam in many ways."

All violent acts have similarities. The most striking one is violence.

Many ,many moons ago, I took a history course from a WWII vet. Every other day was spent discussing "Yellow Journalism and it's impact on the war effort".

The term "Yellow Journalism" was first coined in 1898 to describe the irresponsible approach to journalism, presenting editorial opinion as fact, practiced by Joseph Pultizer.


Posted by Terry Gain at April 13, 2006 6:17 PM ET:

Skipsailing28

Great post #55.

Crosspatch

All your posts are brilliant. Get your own blog.

Posted by Nick Pierce at April 14, 2006 10:02 AM ET:

Clearly, none of you have any idea what is going on in Ramadi. There was a major attack on the Government Center in Ramadi that Marine's fended off. I am in Ramadi. Had you been with the Marines here, you'd know that. If you actually even contacted any Marines in Ramadi, they could tell you the same. This just shows how little faith you have in the world at large, not just the media. The insurgents didn't report this, the Marines did (through AP, for one). AP reported this, with a Marine captain estimating 50 dead. Truth is, these kind of attacks happens a lot, so it is not major news.

Posted by Bill Roggio at April 14, 2006 11:44 AM ET:

Lisa,

I didn't discount the action, the reporting of it is shady however (mainly the staged photos). I did note the report in the military magizine. And I did contact the military in Ramadi, the reply is posted.

I think misunderstands the nature of the post.