AP's Duping Over 'Burning Six' Enters MSM

An Associated Press story about six Sunni men being dragged from their mosque in Iraq, doused with kerosene, and burned alive continues to unravel, while AP spokeswoman Linda Wagner does her best Dan Rather impression (my first post from Saturday).

AP based their atrocity story on the word of Iraqi police Captain Jamil Hussein. Problem: the Iraqis say Hussein is not a police captain and does not work for them in any capacity. In response, AP has played the fake-but-accurate card that worked so well for Dan Rather.

Finally, other elements of the mainstream media are taking notice, after several days of exposes by bloggers.

From USA Today's On Deadline:

Today, responding to questions from On Deadline about AP's statement that it stands by its story, Lt. Dean e-mailed us. He said that on Thursday,

"Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the official (Iraqi) Ministry of Interior spokesmen, will begin his regularly scheduled press conference at noon tomorrow with a statement that Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee."

Hussein is the main source AP cited in its original story about the burnings.

Dean added that "We understand the challenges of reporting in Iraq due to the security situation, and we are in no way targeting AP specifically.

"However, when we continue to see reporting of stories which cannot be corroborated using questionable Iraqi sources, we feel it is our obligation to track the credibility of the source and ask what verification was used no matter which media outlet the report came from.

"We have had numerous stories reported through wire services which were proven to have not happened at all, yet the media outlets concerned dismissed verification on the ground for their sources."

When the story was first questioned, AP sent reporters scurrying to find eyewitnesses, none of whom were named, to verify the story, and said that their reporters had been in Hussein's police office and used him as a source for multiple stories. That's true. Hussein's name has appeared in wire service stories since April of this year. Stories that are bound to come under much closer scrutiny, now that an Iraqi Brigadier General is about to announce that AP's source is a fraud.
This may indicate that the Associated Press has a problem, not just with this particular source, but with the reporters who vouched for him.

AP spokeswoman Linda Wagner's response was disingenuous:

"Navy Lieutenant Dean's statement seems to suggest that the news media should work solely from a government list of 'authorized sources.' But a free press cultivates a wide range of sources. That's what AP did in this case, as it always does."
No, Linda, Lt. Dean's statement suggests that you have a responsibility to verify your sources, even (especially) when they're telling you what you want to hear.

More on the bogus burning six story from Curt at Flopping Aces, who has been covering the story since it began.

Posted by: Bluto at 06:19 PM

Comments

1 Ah crap. I thought I could enjoy an evening with Jawa report and nature channel over a good bottle of wine. Unfortunately, we have two fry cooks that didn't show up for work tonight. So here I go to work cooking hamburgers at McDonalds. Strange! That is exactly what my step-father said I would end up doing.

Posted by: Greyrooster at November 29, 2006 08:08 PM

2 OK ...
As far as I'm concerned AP is not worth salvaging.

USA all the way!

Posted by: Michael Weaver at November 29, 2006 08:50 PM

3 Hey! The AP is every bit as reliable as NBC, Reuters, CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera!

Posted by: Jeff Bargholz at November 30, 2006 12:14 AM

4 This has been an ineffective distraction from the death and distruction going on in Iraq.

What have there been - 4 or 5 threads dedicated to this non-story?

The real story is not about a few people who have NOT been killed.

It is about the people that ARE being killed.

Isn't it time to move on to a real story?

How about reporting on some of those happy Iraq stories.

May be difficult to find, though, since even Fox News is having a hard time finding them.

Or maybe it's that they're too busy trying to bash Democrats to go looking for real news.

Posted by: PuddleDuck at November 30, 2006 05:46 AM

5 This has been an ineffective distraction from the death and distruction going on in Iraq.

What have there been - 4 or 5 threads dedicated to this non-story?

The real story is not about a few people who have NOT been killed.

It is about the people that ARE being killed.

Isn't it time to move on to a real story?

How about reporting on some of those happy Iraq stories.

May be difficult to find, though, since even Fox News is having a hard time finding them.

Or maybe it's that they're too busy trying to bash Democrats to go looking for real news.

Posted by: PuddleDuck at November 30, 2006 05:57 AM

6 During the invasion of Italy, Americans lost 3500 men on the beach at Anzio. Perhaps if we had cut and run the world would be a better place today. Maybe a better place for piddledickheads, but not for real men. Oh, I forgot, piddledick was at Anzio. Ha, ha. Friggin phoney.

Posted by: Greyrooster at November 30, 2006 07:54 AM

7 Speaking of being disingenuous, why did you only show a snippet of AP's statement?

Here it is in its entirety -

"AP's television crew videotaped the entrance to the mosque that showed evidence of an explosion and fire. Our reporter spoke with an officer who had provided AP with reliable information in the past and he confirmed three times that the incident happened. As stated in AP's November 28 news story, this captain 'has been a regular source of police information for two years and had been visited by the AP reporter in his office at the police station on several occasions.'

"When the U.S. military raised questions about the incident and the officer, we reported their comments, even though they were not at the scene.

"Navy Lieutenant Dean's statement seems to suggest that the news media should work solely from a government list of 'authorized sources.' But a free press cultivates a wide range of sources. That's what AP did in this case, as it always does."


Posted by: Mergatroid at November 30, 2006 10:08 AM

8 Mergatroid: It's already been established that one mosque was burned. Nobody questioned that. It's the other three and the 6 people allegedly burned alive which is in question. The AP didn't verify any of that in the response you seem to think was too important to leave out. The rest is verifed only with "anonymous sources" and a police Captain who may or may not exist. It's possible that the AP was duped.

They added "we have conducted a thorough review of the sourcing and reporting involved and plan to move a more detailed report about the entire incident soon, with greater detail provided by multiple eye witnesses."

So if they've gotten that much done, what's keeping them? We're still waiting. It's been days now.

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