Early in the recent Lebanon war, the blogosphere revealed the fabrication of images by Reuters, whose reputation is now in shreds among those dwindling numbers in the western mainstream media who still acknowledge there is such a thing as the truth. Since then, the nature and scale of the various frauds perpetrated by the media during that war put those doctored Reuters pictures into the shade. The western media are no longer merely producing questionable professional practices in reporting a war. They are now active participants in it and on the wrong side of history.
One of the very few politicians to voice concern at this phenomenon is Australias foreign minister Alexander Downer, who said:
What concerns me greatly is the evidence of dishonesty in the reporting out of Lebanon. For example, a Reuters photographer was forced to resign after doctoring images to exaggerate the impact of Israeli air attacks. There were the widely-reported claims that Israel had bombed deliberately a Red Cross ambulance.
In subsequent weeks, the world has discovered those allegations do not stand up to even the most rudimentary scrutiny. After closer study of the images of the damage to the ambulance, it is beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax. Yet some of the worlds most prestigious media outlets, including some of those represented here today, ran that story as fact - unchallenged, unquestioned. Similarly, there has been the tendency to report every casualty on the Lebanese side of the conflict as if a civilian casualty, when it was indisputable that a great many of those injured or killed in Israeli offensives were armed Hezbollah combatants.
My point is this: in a grown-up society such as our own, the media cannot expect to get away with parading falsehoods as truths, or ignoring salient facts because they happen to be inconvenient to the line of argument - or narrative - that particular journalists, or media organisations, might choose to adopt on any given controversy or issue.
Can anyone imagine the British Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, saying this? Of course not. The level of anti-Israel, anti-American madness has reached such a pitch in Britain that any similar expression of alarm at the manifestly blatant mendacity in the reporting of the Middle East has simply become unthinkable. Yet thanks to the efforts of the blogosphere notably Little Green Footballs, Powerline, Zombietime and EU Referendum, we can see that the behaviour of the western media during the Iranian/Syrian/Hezbollah war against Israel has constituted a major, world-wide scandal, and one which has the capacity to derail the efforts of the west to defend itself.
The major incidents of apparent media fraud are these.
* The claim that Israeli aircraft intentionally fired missiles at and struck two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances performing rescue operations, causing huge explosions that injured everyone inside the vehicles. This claim, which gave such incendiary traction to the lie that Israel deliberately targeted civilians, was repeated by ITV News, Time Magazine, the Guardian, Boston Globe, The Age, NBC News, the New York Times and thousands of outlets around the world.
Zombietime, however, convincingly exposed this claim as a fraud. It is worth reading its analysis in full in order properly to grasp both the enormity of the libel and the way it was not only uncritically accepted but gleefully embellished by respected media outlets, whose journalists either didnt know or care that they were transmitting an outright fabrication. Anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of the kind of missiles used by the Israeli air force would grasp immediately that the hole in the roof of the ambulance whose picture went round the world could not have been caused by such a missile. If a missile had indeed hit it there would have been no roof remaining to inspect; nor would there have remained an ambulance. Yet the rest of the ambulance in the pictures, although damaged, was pretty well intact and the allegedly seriously injured ambulance driver not only was pictured with minor injuries, but even these had miraculously disappeared without trace in pictures taken a few days later.
In short, the whole claim was patently risible. As Zombietime revealed, the hole was almost certainly made by an air vent in the roof. It was part of the ambulance. There was no attack on the ambulance. The whole claim was a lie, a hoax, a fraud. Yet this lie has gone round the world, been shown on TV, been embellished by familiar trusted commentators and thus has attained the status of unchallengeable truth. But it is a lie.
Now the Red Cross has rebuked Australian Foreign Minister Downer for relying on an unverified blog for his claim. As Little Green Footballs observes, this was the same Red Cross which as LGF previously reported once the unverified blog started using those vanishing journalistic attributes such as eyesight and brain activity to state the overwhelmingly obvious, quietly removed from its website the high-resolution image of the ambulance that had allegedly been struck. For if these pictures were indeed a lie, then the Red Cross itself is squarely in the frame for disseminating it.
* The claim that Israel fired a missile which hit a Reuters vehicle and wounded two cameramen. One was a Reuters employee, Fadel Shana; the other, Sabbah Hmaida, was described by Reuters as working for a local news website; although as Little Green Footballs noted, he was also reported variously as working for
1) a local news web site, 2) an Arabic network, 3) Palestinian Media Group, and 4) Dubai TV
and now Caroline Glick has revealed in the Jerusalem Post that he was actually working for none other than Iran.
But as Powerline has reported here, here, and here, pictures of this Reuters vehicle suggest that it was not hit by anything remotely resembling a missile. There was a modest and rusty gash in the roof and a windscreen that was shattered (although even that is in doubt in another picture). That was it. As with the Red Cross claim, the notion that such damage was consistent with a missile strike is simply ludicrous.
* The claim that the Israelis deliberately perpetrated a massacre of civilians at Kana. Apart from the fact that the initial claimed casualty rate here was subsequently all but halved by the Red Cross (to 28), there is significant evidence that many of the most harrowing pictures of the victims, which did so much to turn public opinion against Israel in this war, were staged. EU Referendum has now assembled a compendium of its considerable investigative efforts over three weeks entitled The Corruption of the Media, which it has submitted to the Press Complaints Commission. Again, the whole thing repays study. In summary, it says:
many of the incidents recorded in visual form by the media were indeed staged. In fact, we feel we can go further. In our view, the bulk of the relief effort at Khuraybah on 30 July was turned into a perverted propaganda exercise. The site, in effect, became one vast, grotesque film-set on which a macabre drama was played out to a willing and complicit media, which actively co-operated in the production and exploited the results.
EU referendum concludes:
what we do see from Qana is the sheer scale of the staging - not the occasional picture of the many. The majority seems to have been either posed or staged, or both. Given the large AP team present, this suggests that we are looking at more than just a rogue photographer - the malpractice seems institutionalised as normal practice.
And even more devastatingly:
In defence of the media, if it can be considered thus, one can only postulate that staging scenes such as these is so common a practice, and so deeply embedded in the whole fabric of photo-journalism (and not just locally in the Middle East), that no one at the incident saw anything wrong with what transpired. Either that or, so familiar were they with the techniques used that they simply did not register what was happening. As for the others, in their air-conditioned offices, hundreds and thousands of miles away from the action, did they care one way or the other? After all, Shane Richmond of The Daily Telegraph implied, the greater truth was being served. Is the child dead?, he asked. Was the child killed by Israeli bombs? Thus, did he say: If so, the picture illustrates the story. If the picture does not alter the truth of the story, were not being disingenuous. And the truth of the story is this: Israeli bombs killed several civilians in Qana, many of whom were children. That is the nearest to an admission we have that it is acceptable to stage photographs.
In short, much of the most incendiary media coverage of this war seems to have been either staged or fabricated. The big question is why the western media would perpetrate such institutionalised mendacity. Many ancillary reasons come to mind. There is the reliance upon corrupted news and picture agencies which employ Arab propagandists as stringers and cameramen. There is the herd mentality of the media which decides collectively what the story is. There is the journalists fear for their personal safety if they report the truth about terrorist outfits. There is the difficulty of discovering the truth from undemocratic regimes and terrorist organisations. There is the language barrier; there is professional laziness; there is the naïve inability to acknowledge the depths of human evil and depravity; there is the moral inversion of the left which believes that western truth-tellers automatically tell lies, while third world liars automatically tell the truth.
But the big answer is that the western media transmit the lies of Hezbollah because they want to believe them. And thats because the Big Lie these media tell and have themselves been told about Israel and its place in history and in the world today has achieved the status of unchallengeable truth. The plain fact is that western journalists were sent to cover the war being waged against Israel from Lebanon as a war being waged by Israel against Lebanon. And thats because thats how editors think of the Middle East: that the whole ghastly mess is driven by Israels actions, and that therefore it is only Israels aggression which is the story to be covered. Thus history is inverted, half a century of Jewish victimisation is erased from public consciousness, victims are turned into aggressors and genocidal mass murderers turned into victims, and ignorance and prejudice stalk Englands once staunch and stalwart land.
Thats why the fact that hundreds of thousands of refugees from the north of Israel fled to the shelter of strangers in the south; that within one third of Israel, those too poor or old or handicapped or disadvantaged to seek refuge elsewhere were forced to live in shelters for a month in great hardship; that the entire economy of northern Israel was effectively shut down for a month; that thousands of rockets were fired at northern Israel, hundreds every day, many times more than were daily fired at Britain during the Blitz thats why none of this was reported in Britain (where as a result such facts, when now related, are received with open-mouthed astonishment) because journalists were told to ignore it all since that wasnt the story their editors wanted. Israels victimisation simply was not, could not, be the story. The only story was Israels aggression. But that story is a Big Lie. So a host of lies were transmitted to support it.
Certain conclusions are now inescapable. First, hatred of Israel and the irrationality associated with that hatred have now reached unprecedented proportions within Britain and the west. Second, with a few honourable exceptions the mainstream media are no longer to be believed in anything they transmit, either in words or pictures, about the Middle East. It is only the blogosphere which is now performing the most elementary disciplines of journalism: to aspire to objectivity, to separate facts from prejudices, to apply basic checks to claims being made by partisans to a conflict, and to be particularly wary of those with a proven track record of lying. Third, the mainstream media must now be regarded as active accessories to the war being waged against the free world and therefore as a fifth column in that world an enemy within. Fourth, the impact of the lies and distortions transmitted by the mainstream media in inflaming the already pathological hatred of the west within the Arab and Muslim world is incalculable. Fifth, the mainstream medias vilification, demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel, based on outright fabrications and malevolent distortions, is imperilling the very existence of the country that is the front line of defence of the free world. Sixth, that vilification is also imperilling the safety and well-being of Jewish communities around the world, subject now to the double victimisation of attack by Islamists and attack by non-Muslims for belonging to a Jewish people that refuses to submit passively to a second attempt at genocidal slaughter and instead fights to defend itself.
To date, as far as I can determine, not one mainstream editor or proprietor has acknowledged this corruption of the western media. The scale of this corruption now threatens to have a lethal impact on the course of human history. Hatred now drives not just the jihadists but their western dupes, too. Truth and freedom are indivisible. The deconstruction of the former inevitably presages the destruction of the latter. This is the way a civilisation dies.
One of the very few politicians to voice concern at this phenomenon is Australias foreign minister Alexander Downer, who said: