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Jewish World Review
August 16, 2006
/ 22 Menachem-Av, 5766
Fauxtography: The media scandal continues
It's the story that the journalistic elite would rather just go away. In the
aftermath of Reuters' admission that one of its photographers, Adnan Hajj,
had manipulated two war images from Lebanon after bloggers smoked out his
crude Photoshop alterations and all 920 of his Reuters photos were pulled,
evidence of far more troubling photo staging and media deception in the
Middle East continues to pour in.
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs (littlegreenfootballs.com) calls
One of Hajj's photos was an iconic image of a dusty dead child with a clean
blue pacifier clipped to his shirt, paraded by a corpse handler at the site
of an Israeli airstrike in Qana, Lebanon. Mainstream journalists have
sneered at bloggers' suspicions, first raised at EU Referendum (
eureferendum.blogspost.com), that some of the gruesome photos from that
scene may have been staged. Washington Post photographer Michael
Robinson-Chavez, who was at Qana, huffed: "Everyone was dead, many of them
children. Nothing was set up." But last week, a German television station
aired damning video footage from the scene showing a lead propaganda
director (dubbed the "Green Helmet Guy") positioning a young boy's corpse,
yanking it from an ambulance, placing it on two different stretchers for the
cameras, and pushing bystanders out of the way for clearer shots.
This Lebanese version of horror film director Wes Craven was identified by
the Associated Press in a softball profile as "Salam Daher," who told the
reporter, "I am just a civil defense worker. I have done this job all my
life." To clear-eyed readers, that's an inculpatory statement, not an
exculpatory one. How many more "jobs" has Daher overseen? And how many more
media stage managers like Daher are out there?
Not all photographers overseas have their heads in the sand. Last week,
Middle East-based photographer Bryan Denton, whose work has appeared in the
New York Times, revealed on the professional photography website Light
Stalkers (lightstalkers.org) that he had observed routine staging of
photos and even corpse-digging by Lebanese stringers:
"I have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one case where
a group of wire photogs were choreographing the unearthing of bodies,
directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to position bodies
just so, even remove bodies that have already been put in graves so that
they can photograph them in people[']s arms." Denton noted that he had
witnessed the photo choreography at numerous protests and evacuations, as
well as at an Israeli airstrike location in Chiyeh, Lebanon. Denton followed
up with a second post reporting that respected photographer friends of his
Lebanon informed him that "this was not an isolated incident" and that "this
has been something [I]'ve noticed happening here, more than any other place
[I]ve worked previously."
Which is probably why bloggers have noticed so many copious examples of
phony-looking scenes from countless pristine stuffed animals lying in the
foreground of destroyed buildings (
slublog.com/archives/2006/08/the_passion_of.html), to artfully placed Korans
amid scenes of destruction, to a snow-white wedding dress on a mannequin
standing in the middle of a street surrounded by piles of rubble, to intact
cars photographed on Lebanese roadsides and dubiously labeled as being
struck by Israeli missiles (see
Miscaptioning (which always makes Israel look worse, never Hezbollah, go
figure) adds another dimension of fauxto deception. One Associated Press
image of an anguished father carrying his dead 5-year-old daughter into a
Gaza City hospital last week blamed the death on an Israeli airstrike.
Charles Johnson found a correction of the caption revealing that the girl
had been killed in a swingset accident. I found a Reuters photo of an
18-month-old girl with two broken legs that was pulled by the wire service
in late July after being included among a photo set of hospital patients
injured in an Israeli air raid. In truth, the girl had been admitted for a
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Then there was the New York Times'
misrepresentation of a half-naked young man sprawled Pieta-like, appearing
dead, amid Tyre rubble. The original Times' website photo caption? "The
mayor of Tyre said that in the worst-hit areas, bodies were still buried
under the rubble..." Turned out the "dead" man was a "rescue worker" who was
supposedly "injured" (with his baseball cap tucked neatly in his arm as he
closed his eyes and flung his head back) and had been photographed in
several other scenes running around the bombing site.
Isolated incidents? In a rare moment of candor, CNN's Anderson Cooper
revealed the routine mechanics of Hezbollywood propaganda tours last week:
"I was in Beirut, and they took me on this sort of guided tour of the
Hezbollah-controlled territories in southern Lebanon that were heavily
bombed..they clearly want the story of civilian casualties out. That is
their - what they're heavily pushing, to the point where on this tour I was
on, they were just making stuff up. They had six ambulances lined up in a
row and said, OK, you know, they brought reporters there, they said you can
talk to the ambulance drivers. And then one by one, they told the ambulances
to turn on their sirens and to zoom off, and people taking that picture
would be reporting, I guess, the idea that these ambulances were zooming off
to treat civilian casualties, when in fact, these ambulances were literally
going back and forth down the street just for people to take pictures of
"Just making stuff up." Remember that.
Meanwhile, the media ostriches carry on. Joe Elbert, Washington Post
assistant managing editor for photography, told ombudsman Deborah Howell
smugly: "We don't use tools to change reality." Newsflash: You are the
tools being used.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on JWR contributor Michelle Malkin's column by clicking here.
Michelle Malkin Archives
In Unhinged: Liberals Gone Wild
adj : affected with madness or insanity; [syn: brainsick, crazy, demented, distracted, disturbed, mad, sick, unbalanced]
The American Heritage Dictionary
*** Warning: Unhinged liberals are hazardous to the nation's health.
They're slashing your tires. Burning your lawns. Heaving pies at Republican pundits. Hurling racist epithets at minority conservatives. Nursing nutty conspiracy theories. And pining publicly for the murder of President Bush.
And they call us crazy?
In In Unhinged: Liberals Gone Wild, Michelle Malkin plays conservative Margaret Mead to the alien political creatures of the American Left. With uproarious detail and rollicking reportage, Malkin chronicles the bizarre world of leftists gone mad in their natural habitats: the mainstream media, academia, Hollywood, and Washington.
Unhinged unmasks liberals who've completely abandoned rationality and reality. They're taking chainsaws and bayonets to campaign signs. Running down political opponents with their cars. Setting fire to political opponents in effigy. Defacing war memorials. Swiping yellow ribbons off cars. And supporting the fragging of American troops.
In Unhinged, you'll meet:
- The Top 10 Unhinged Leftists, Celebrities, Media Liberals, and Politicians. - The Pennsylvania Democrat who repeatedly screamed "faggot" at his Republican opponents on the Senate floor. - The Florida Democrat who tried to run down former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris with his Cadillac. - The Democrat congressman who claimed the capture of Saddam Hussein was staged by GOP operatives to help the Bush re-election campaign. - The veteran newsman who claimed that Bush advisor Karl Rove and Osama bin Laden are working hand-in-hand to help the Republican Party. - And hundreds more unhinged liberals gone wild!
With wit, wisdom, and a bullet-proof vest, Michelle Malkin ruthlessly and raucously skewers the myths of liberal tolerance, peace, and civility. Unhinged shows how conservatives are driving their opponents mad. The good news for liberals? Self-help starts here.
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