Sunday, August 20, 2006

More On Phony Photos From Middle East

The Mainstream Media don’t like being scrutinized by those outside the fraternity, and especially not by bloggers, and especially not by conservative bloggers.

Which is why we are pleasantly surprised by an article in the Los Angeles Times about a fellow named Charles Johnson, the blogger who runs Little Green Footballs.

Johnson has been at the forefront in debunking phony photos from the Middle East exaggerating the damage done to innocent civilians by Israeli bombing.

After a bit of thumb-sucking rhetoric, the author gets to the conclusion:
What the major news organizations ought to be doing is to make their own analysis of the images coming out of Lebanon and if, as seems more than likely, they find widespread malfeasance, some hard questions need to be asked about why it occurred. Some of it may stem from the urge every photographer feels to make a photo perfect. Some of it probably flows from a simple economic imperative — a freelancer who produces dramatic images gets picked up more and paid more. Moreover, the obscenely anti-Israeli tenor of most of the European and world press means there’s an eager market for pictures of dead Lebanese babies.

It’s worth noting in this context that there is no similar flow of propagandistic images coming from the Israeli side of the border. That’s because one side — the democratically elected government of Israel — views death as a tragedy and the other — the Iranian financed terrorist organization Hezbollah — sees it as an opportunity. In this case, turning their own dead children into material creates an opportunity to cloud the fact that every Lebanese casualty, tragic as he or she is, was killed or injured as an unavoidable consequence of Israel’s pursuit of terrorists who use their own people as human shields. Every Israeli civilian killed or injured was the victim of a terrorist attack intended to harm civilians. That alone ought to wash away any blood-stained suggestion of moral equivalency.

That brings us to the most troubling of the possible explanations for these fraudulent photos, which is that some of the photojournalists involved are either intimidated by or sympathetic to the Hezbollah terrorists. It’s a possibility fraught with harsh implications, but it needs to be examined thoroughly and openly.

Johnson and his colleagues have done the serious news media a service. Failure to follow up on it would be worse than churlish; it would be irresponsible.
We frankly doubt that any genuine soul searching will come out of this fiasco, any more than Rathergate produced any genuine soul searching at CBS.

Rather, this will be first attacked as a fantasy of right-wing bloggers, and when the media are forced to admit error, it will be dismissed as an isolated instance, rather than evidence of any systematic bias.

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