Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The fog of delusion

-- Dave

Bob Geiger has a little fun at the expense of those intrepid exposers of liberal-media perfidy in the right-wing blogosphere, particularly Michelle Malkin and Powerline:
And here we have so many conservative bloggers, after days of castigating the Associated Press for running what the wingnuts claimed was a fictitious story about six Sunnis being burned alive in sectarian violence in Iraq on Friday, having to once again face what a bunch of putzes they really are.

As Geiger notes, the most recent Associated Press story has confirmation not merely from the police captain but from independent eyewitnesses:
Seeking further information about Friday's attack, an AP reporter contacted Hussein for a third time about the incident to confirm there was no error. The 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. The captain, who gave his full name as Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, said six people were indeed set on fire.

On Tuesday, two AP reporters also went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood around the Mustafa mosque and found three witnesses who independently gave accounts of the attack. Others in the neighborhood said they were afraid to talk about what happened.

It continues with more details about the killings, including the burial of the bodies and the identity of at least one of the victims.

Mind you, this isn't the first time Malkin's predilection for accusing working journalists of unethical -- or even treasonous -- behavior on questionable grounds has been highlighted. As always, it raises real questions among journalists, at least, just what kind of "professional journalist" this is.

Because Malkin isn't merely questioning the data professionally: she flat-out accuses the Associated Press of running a phony story and being in cahoots with the terrorists in Iraq. She writes, with no sense of irony: "MSM credibility, R.I.P."

In this case, we'd have to create a new category: "Malkin credibility, E.S.D." [Extreme State of Decomposition] After all, her supposed professionalism has been a dubious matter from the beginning. Now its dessicated corpse is crumbling apart.

Even now, after her utter credulousness when it comes to right-wing disinformation out of Iraq has been exposed, she continues to label the "blabbermouth" New York Times as the "biggest terrorist propaganda tool" (complete with an echo-chamber poll to prove it!).

Meanwhile, in her meandering update to the Sunni-burning atrocity story, there's almost no recognition whatsoever that her entire thesis -- which was nothing less than a grossly incendiary accusation against the Associated Press -- has been blown to pieces.

What we get is this deeply insightful snippet:
Update: This is getting interesting.

No "looks like I might have been grossly mistaken, folks". No "I may owe the AP a big fat apology". Nope. Just "interesting."

To her credit, she at least publishes the AP's response:
The Associated Press denounces unfounded attacks on its story about six Sunni worshipers burned to death outside their mosque on Friday, November 24. The attempt to question the existence of the known police officer who spoke to the AP is frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question.

Yes, the 101st Keyboard Commandos have an infinitely better sense of what's truthful and what's not than actual reporters working on the ground in Iraq. See, those Cheetos stains have magical qualities.

You've especially gotta love Malkin's take:
Also interesting: AP's attitude toward those trying to verify its sources. "Frankly ludicrous," says Daniszewski.

It would be one thing, of course, if all the Keyboard Kommandos had done was try to verify AP's sources. But they didn't -- they, with Malkin and Powerline leading the charge, flatly accused the AP of fraudulent reporting and condemned them as having no credibility. Powerline accused them of "shamelessly" stoking "hysteria" about Iraq and said the report indicated "an abandonment of all journalistic standards" (as though they had any understanding themselves of such matters). Malkin informed journalists that they were "writing their own" obituary. Nice.

"Frankly ludicrous" was the nice description for this kind of atrocity. "Flagrantly delusional" would be more to the point.

Powerline's update plays this, in the headline, as a kind of gambling competition -- no doubt to more easily dismiss their own malfeasance, which has been their standard way of handling cases in which their own utter lack of credibility has been exposed. Their own update, at least, is slightly more forthcoming than Malkin's:
I have infinitely more faith in the U.S. military than in the Associated Press, but that doesn't mean the military is always right or the AP always wrong. It seems that the AP believes it is in a strong position. I'm tempted to say that one institution or the other must emerge from this affair with its credibility damaged. But perhaps it's just as likely that the facts will remain unresolved, lost in what sometimes seems like an epistemological fog. Or maybe it's just a fog of bad reporting.

Oh, it's a fog, all right. Or perhaps "blinkers" might be more appopriate.

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