It is certainly true that a picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to news photographs, and it’s especially true of news photographs from war zones.
In a special bonus feature in our ongoing “Friday Night Fights” segment, a real barnburner took place Wednesday evening on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” In the left corner, Air America radio personality Randi Rhodes.
That truth is the first casualty of war has been borne home by the proliferating 'fauxtography' scandal of photographs of the current Middle East crisis doctored or staged so as to portray Israel in the worst possible light. At this point, can we look at any image from the area without a good dose of doubt?
Take this morning's report on the Today show. NBC's Richard Engel, in Tyre, Lebanon, reported that:
"The fighting has made humanitarian relief efforts almost impossible. Israel has cut roads and attacked vehicles, isolating Hezbollah and everyone else."
This was followed by a clip of the unidentified individual pictured here. Judging by his words and accent, he might have been a Red Cross official. He asserted:
"Lots of people have died because they just couldn't make it to a hospital in time. Ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross were hit right in the middle of the roof of the car. The Red Cross stands for protection and neutrality. This should not have happened."
Our own Michelle Humphrey noticed that NBC anchor Brian Williams appeared Tuesday on "The Daily Show," and in the midst of all the chummy banter, Jon Stewart was still cracking wise, in the face of the evidence, that the federal government has/had no presence in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro transcribed it:
Bloggers—and to a much lesser extent some media outlets—have paid considerable attention to specific examples of media manipulation in the war being fought between Hezbollah and the IDF in Lebanon and Israel, but we seem be under-covering the overall framing of the media's coverage, particularly when it comes to the subject matter chosen for coverage.
This comes into sharp relief when contrasted against the coverage we've become used to from the war in Iraq, particularly as it relates to the media coverage allowed and provided by two different insurgencies in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraq's predominately Sunni insurgency.
In Iraq, we’ve become somewhat used to embedded reporters reporting from both sides of the conflict with a fairly wide latitude to operate. Stringers, both print media and photographers, have occasionally embedded within the insurgency, providing coverage from ambushes and sniper's nests alike. The insurgents themselves often seem to be media hungry, filming operations themselves and often releasing the tapes to the media or producing them on DVDs for public consumption in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.
By and large, the vast majority of video reporting allowed and encouraged by the Iraqi insurgency is combat-related. IED ambushes are particularly popular, often released as montages set to Islamist music as propaganda videos. The Iraqi insurgents have often seemed intent on portraying themselves as rebel forces actively waging a war for the people, whether or not the people would always agree.
Hezbollah, however, seems to be fighting a different kind of media war.
Tucker Carlson stopped short of saying that some of his best friends are Jewish. But he did let us know that "I love Israel, I think it's a wonderful place, I support it completely, I support it instinctively."
That was just before he declared that "I think this war helps Hezbollah. I think it's bad for Israel, bad for the United States. I think you can love Israel and believe this war is a disaster."
And it was just after he criticized President Bush for being too pro-Israel.
Carlson turned to Bill Press, his guest on this afternoon's Tucker show on MSNBC, observing:
"You never hear Democrats point out that Bush is not even-handed in the Middle East. You almost never hear anybody criticize the President for taking the side of Israel to the extent that he alienates the Arab world completely. Why doesn't anybody ever mention that?"
The former chairman of the California Dem party gave a response suggesting he might be a proud graduate of the Pat Buchanan 'Amen Corner' School of Foreign Policy:
AP begins their report giving the reader the feeling that Israel attacked a funeral procession with the following:
It's unquestionable that something bad happened in Qana, Lebanon recently. Was it a massacre of innocent civilians, collateral damage, or a Hezbollah set-up?
It's starting to seem as though it was a combination of all three. The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley, Aziz P, and Ace are some of the bloggers beginning to raise this point. I've excerpted some of their arguments below. If you see any counter-arguments, post them as a comment or email them to me so I can include all sides.
UPDATE 14:25. Dan Riehl theorizes on how Hezbollah might have staged the casualties. Read on past the jump for an excerpt.
UPDATE 14:48. Power Line argues further that Arab stringers for MSM organizations are staging photos.
UPDATE 15:17. Ace has more possibly staged pix, including a mannequin improbably standing upright sporting a wedding dress.
Bring back Katie! OK, perhaps that's not the solution, but the sycophantish display that Ann Curry put on for Queen Noor and her anti-Israel/pro-Hezbollah views was enough to make you pound the TV screen in frustration.
Noor is a Princeton-educated Arab-American who is the widow of the late King Hussein of Jordan. Curry's opening set the tone. Rather than asking a probing question, Ann invited Noor to lecture America: "what insights might you offer America about what Hezbollah wants and what it's willing to do to get it?"
Noor blamed the Jews and lauded Hezbollah: "Hezbollah was created as was Hamas in the Palestinian territories during a period of Israeli occupation which is on-going in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. Hezbollah was largely responsible and credited by the Lebanese for having creating the pressure for having Israel withdraw from Lebanese territory."
Curry took Noor's notion a grotesque step further: "So it's almost seen as a savior."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened his August 7 Countdown show fretting about President Bush's unwillingness to delay his vacation, in contrast with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, during the current fighting in the Middle East, mocking Bush during the teaser by twice uttering the words: "He's on vacation." He even drew a negative parallel from history as he recounted that the Nazi invasion of Europe received a boost while infamous British
The following certainly qualifies as one of the most absurd statements that I’ve heard from a member of the media lately, and as someone that often spends 18 hours a day watching and reading press reports, that’s saying something (hat tip to Hot Air with video available here).
On Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN, the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks actually stated with a straight face that Israel is intentionally not destroying all of Hezbollah’s rockets so that some can continue to rain down on Israel killing innocent civilians. This, in Ricks’ view, “helps you with the moral high ground problem, because you know your operations in Lebanon are going to be killing civilians as well.” I kid you not.
Host Howard Kurtz was rather shocked by Ricks’ assertion, and responded almost incredulously: