TCS Daily


Photoshop of Horrors

By Peter C. Glover - August 9, 2006 12:00 AM

The recent discovery by the Blogosphere that Reuters had doctored a photograph taken in Beirut throws the spotlight once more on the thorny issue of ideological bias, intentional or otherwise, in the mainstream media (MSM).

By refusing to investigate the many other photos supplied by Adrian Hajj (though the news agency has withdrawn all of them) Reuters betrays two fears. First, of exposing its reputation further and, second, facing accusations of institutional bias. A British blogger has raised serious questions about the coverage generally and the German newspaper Bildt has revealed that the "soldier" carrying a dead girl from a house allegedly destroyed in an Israeli air strike in a photo beamed worldwide is actually a professional Hezbollah PR man. Elsewhere the Blogosphere has revealed discrepancies in other Hajj photos, inconsistencies in time stamps on other media photos, and evidence of the same photo being used more than once in the MSM as evidence for separate Israeli attacks.

What has become evident in recent years is that citizen journalists, unfettered by the suffocating culture of political-correctness in the MSM, have consistently pursued the MSM over standards of truth.

In January 2006 the New York Times famously displayed a photo alleged to be a Pakistani family standing in the ruins of their home after a US air strike. As the bemused family stood around what was alleged to be the destroying artillery shell, it was the Blogosphere which first asserted, later confirmed by experts, that the shell had "never been fired".

While the camera per se may not lie, developments in computer digitization can clearly "influence" reporting, raising the specter of journalism as propaganda. What would help to avert this dangerous development however would be the acknowledgement of worldview bias as an inherent human trait -- and a consequent commitment to ideological diversity in the MSM newsroom. This is surely preferable to allowing the "mainstream" of political and media life to maintain the fiction that "worldview-free" is either possible or desirable.

A Pew People and Press poll in 2003 revealed two key facts. Firstly, that 90 percent of mainstream US journalists voted Democratic and held predominantly liberal views. The spectrum of liberal views of mainstream media journalists in America thus in no way reflects the predominantly conservative views of the general public. But even more relevant is the admission by most journalists that ideological preference (bias) does influence their news reporting.

The tradition of British print journalism also owes much to a frank admission towards being Left or Right on the political spectrum. Yet such organs of the fourth estate have served the British people -- and the world -- well for centuries. Sadly, this clarity is today being subverted in the crush to be perceived as on the "centre-ground" of public opinion. The "centre-ground" is the most well-trodden trod sod of God's earth for today's politician -- and, it seems, journalist. And yet openly acknowledging ideology as a factor in news reporting and analysis does nothing to hurt ratings or detract from news consumers trust.

Which brings me full-circle to the relationship between the MSM and the Blogosphere. The Blogosphere is here to stay. Technology has already settled the argument. But for all the suspicion of the MSM, it is plainly the case that the Blogosphere is no threat to it. Rather, in the tension between the paid and unpaid journalist, the real winner is the news consumer -- oh yes, and truth. The MSM clearly needs the Blogosphere to challenge it to keep up its standards - and recover public trust. Conversely, the Blogosphere cannot function without the MSM and its resources.

What we need to see end is an end to the kind of attitude exhibited by a BBC Breakfast TV News report just two days after the Reuters exposé. It not only exonerated news agencies like Reuters as mere dupes of fraudsters like Hajj, it also went on to attack the upstart "culture of right wing American bloggers". That would be the same "culture" that has been so successful in preserving journalistic integrity in the mainstream - when the MSM failed to do so.

BBC and NYT editors may resent the freedoms of the Blogosphere. But the reality is where the PC-nature of MSM culture is demonstrably failing the news consumer, the Blogosphere is proving a highly effective truth watchdog against propaganda.

As Jacques Ellul warned, "The propagandist uses a keyboard and composes a symphony." It seems he's also learned to use Photoshop.

Peter C. Glover is a journalist & blogger - and a TCS Daily regular contributor.

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338 Comments

Most people hate it when their lies are exposed. The MSM is no different.
...

NYT and the dead again rescuer
Just this morning the NYT published a picture of a man, that according to the caption, had been killed in a blast that brought down a building.

Unfortunately for the NYT, several bloggers pointed out that other pictures, also published by the Times, clearly showed that same "dead" man, helping to rescue others at the same scene.

A few hours later the times changed the caption to read that a man is being rescued after collapsing during the rescue effort.

---

Any bets as to whether the new caption is any more accurate than the original?

This would be news...
if it totally discounts all the other examples that the Middle East conflict has generated over the years.

For those who believes this happens on both sides, please show me where the doctored photos are that show dead Israeli children or staged photo sessions showing Israelis wailing over the ruins of a building they blew up themselves after stuffing bodies in it. Perhaps they can show the extreme inflation of body counts?

The MSM has been doing this for years. Thankfully the blogs never tire of rubbing their faces in it.

Mission Accomplished!
This is petty and captious. News organizations have stringent requirements about faking pictures and stories. Reporters and photographers caught are fired.

I don't know any profession where you don't have individuals who break the rules. The question is, do organizations like the New York Times or Reuters condone it. In fact, they don't, and nothing in this story shows anything to the contrary.

But in terms of fakery - why is the staging of phony PR events like the President's landing on the aircraft carrier ("Mission Accomplished") or holding a turkey during a 6 hour visit to Iraq not brought up as an issue in this context? Unlike the Reuters photograph, people don't get fired for doing this stuff.

Valiant effort to drag Bush into the fray...
How is PR "fakery"? PR by its very definition is to promote public relations in a positive light. The Mission Accomplished sign was put to say "Mission Accomplished". Wow. What a piece of propaganda huh? And that turkey, oh boy, that really was a anti-Turkey statement being made right?

You are confusing a photo-op performed by politicians to the conscious alteration of photographs, something Roy seems to base much on, to push political propaganda. Was that sign really there? Was that plastic turkey really in the picture?

I expect PR to be hammed up and over the top. I don't expect news organizations to be altering photos to make one side look worse. Then I again, like I said, I knew this was already going on unlike you and others who continue to say that all news organizations, except for Fox of course, are unbiased. How many times do these incidents have to be rubbed into your face before you get it?

"I don't expect news organizations to be altering photos to make one side look worse."
News organizations were not. One photographer did. He's been fired and barred from working for Reuters, and all his previous photos are being examined.

"I knew this was already going on unlike you and others who continue to say that all news organizations, except for Fox of course, are unbiased. How many times do these incidents have to be rubbed into your face before you get it?'

You mean, that new organizations make mistakes, particularly when they're under deadline pressure? I get that perfectly. The point is, what happenes after it's clear there's been a mistake. What happens in professional organizations is the mistake is correct and (often) the person who makes the mistake is fired.

The contrast between this and the Bush administration record is striking.

the dead rising
Powerlineblog had a photo yesterday of a lineup of dead after the Qana bombing. They were all covered by sheets.

The only problem was the dead guy at the back of the line had just sat up.

Kind of reminds me of the film clip taken of a Palestinian funeral a number of years back. Taken by an observation drone. As is palestinian custom, the dead guy was being carried on a piece of wood, covered by a cloth. One of the palbearers tripped causing the dead guy to fall of the board. The dead guy then got up, climbed back on the board, pulled the sheet back overhimself, and the funeral procession continued as if nothing had happened. The women kept crying, them men kept shouting and gesturing, etc.

The mission of the ship was accomplished.
That's why it was no longer in the Middle East.

The fakery was so bad, it could not possibly have been missed by the editor.
...

Former NBC reporter says to not believe what you read
http://www.nbc6.net/ikesinsights/9646351/detail.html?taf=ami

So, fine: how do you find out what's going on?
I mean, what's the alternative? Rely on a ouija board?

Seamans offers excellent advice:

"Best advice. Reporting has been so inconsistent, if you really want to know what is going on, check out all the networks -- broadcast and cable -- as well as print sources and the Internet. Otherwise, you will never know if you are getting the straight scoop on the confusing Israeli-Hezbolla imbroglio."

I certainly don't disagree with this.

Oh really???
You've had experience photo editing, have you?

But that wasn't the message conveyed by the event
The message was put on the ship by the White House. Bush landing on the ship wasn't meant to be about that ship coming back, but about the war being brought to a successful conclusion. Here's a report from tha fount of bias, CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/05/01/sprj.irq.main/

Mistakes NOT fessed up to
1. CBS, Dan Rather

2. Boston Globe: Big Dig Memo

"Neither today's Globe story nor the editor's note addressed a long list of inconsistencies raised by Modern Continental - including the time line and Keaveney's claim that he gave Norwell third graders a tour around the dig. A document obtained by Greater Boston shows no Norwell school visitors at the times he claimed."

http://www.greaterboston.tv/features/btp_20060804_memo.php

News media are quick to get an inaccurate or false story out, but slow to retract.

Such highly publicized fakes reinforce my grandfater's addage, "don't believe anything you hear and half of what you read."

Trust, but verify.
Reagan was a pretty sharp fellow.

Obviously the problem bigger than you know...
>"News organizations were not. One photographer did. He's been fired and barred from working for Reuters, and all his previous photos are being examined."

It has now happened at the NYT, AP, and Reuters. It is more than just one photographer.

Even after CNN admits to being led around and directed by Hezbollah you still don't have a clue as to how the MSM is slanting its coverage.

>"You mean, that new organizations make mistakes, particularly when they're under deadline pressure? I get that perfectly."

No you don't. How about making stories up out of whole cloth? Dan Rather and Mary Mapes? Blair and NYT? I can keep going if you wish. Gee, 90% of journalists consider themselves to be liberal but that doesn't mean they would slant the news to promote their agenda would it?

>"The point is, what happenes after it's clear there's been a mistake. What happens in professional organizations is the mistake is correct and (often) the person who makes the mistake is fired."

Notice that Rueters pull all of that photographer's works but has not allowed others to examine them. How do we know the extent of the damage?

You should keep up with the news, this is not an isolated incident.

>"The contrast between this and the Bush administration record is striking."

Indeed. Politicians are knowing for optimizing PR to promote their ideas. Journalists and their editors are supposed to provide facts.

You are trying to compare two groups that have different purposes. I know you dislike Bush but he has nothing to do with slanted media coverage. Unless, of course, you believe the MSM has been trying to push his agenda? Didn't think so.

The message was correct...
The war was over. What has proceeded since is the rebuilding of the nation and the establishment of a government.

Perhaps if the White House had altered the photos to remove the sign you would have a point but they didn't so you don't.

Don't need experience with Photoshop
Did you see the photos? You definitely only need eyes to see it and not photoshop expertise. The flares from the plane are a different story. Those could have been missed.

What you said...
finally makes sense.

>"I certainly don't disagree with this."

I agree with you.

Classic!
One of my favorites. Pallywood has done some awesome work in the past. I wonder if their is a propaganda category for the Oscars. Oh yeah! Michael Moore won it!

the fact that you see what you want to see, is hardly proof that the rest of us see the same thing.
...

don't have to be
just look at the smoke, it's quite obviously faked.

rely on many sources, check against known facts
Isn't this the same eric who once said that unless something was printed in the NYT, as far as he was concerned, it didn't happen?

What are you talking about??
No single source is always right. Some are more reliable than others. But if you have a quote from anyone who says that " unless something was printed in the NYT, as far as he was concerned, it didn't happen?" please bring it, even though I'd disagree.

all the networks
Let's be thankful Al Gore invented the internet and let's thank Rupert Murdoch so we no longer have to rely on 3 networks from 3 giant coporartions all of whom are in the tank with the Democratic party. Who knows how much absolute BS was foisted upon us in past years.

"Mission Accomplished??
>The war was over

So why does the government in Washington keep talking about the war in Iraq?

>Perhaps if the White House had altered the photos to remove the sign you would have a point but they didn't so you don't.

The Whtie altered the reality to insert the sign. The media dutifiully presented what they were given. If they hadn't shown the footage, or had immediately commented that it was phony-looking, they'd be called unpatriotic.

Still not getting it
You can take any publication or any other human enterprise and show errors. The point is what happens after an error was pointed out.

CBS did an intensive investigation on the Bush story. Rather's no longer there. The Globe may have blown a dig story.

The bottom lline, which you're still not addressing, is mistakes in journalism have much more serious career consequnces for the people who make them than mistakes made by people in the Bush administration. Rumsfeld done nothing but blow it, but he's still on the job.

Reuters editors
It seems there were many doctored photos and staged events. I don't think you'll see anything much reported on this in the MSM. I don't think these things are published "by accident" either. Reuters and the BBC are in taking the anti-Israel side just as they take the anti-American side. The US MSM has decided a US defeat in Iraq will help the Democrats regain power and they are doing their part to make it happen.

"News media are quick to get an inaccurate or false story out, but slow to retract."
News media are under intense time pressure to be first. Even with this background, the overwhelming number of stories published are quite accurate. For the ones that aren't, the truth comes out, either quickly or slowly and, except with operations like Fox News, you get a retraction or more. And people can always sue for libel. What would you want to change about this?

What's complicated about this?
>Even after CNN admits to being led around and directed by Hezbollah you still don't have a clue as to how the MSM is slanting its coverage.

And in israel, they're led around by Israelis. In reports I've seen, they've made clear the groundrules they're operating under. The alternative is not to cover the war in S. Lebanon at all. Would that give you a better view? And, again, if you think one medium isn't getting it, change the channel.

>Notice that Rueters pull all of that photographer's works but has not allowed others to examine them. How do we know the extent of the damage?

What "damage?" They've pulled the pictures and fired him. What kind of damage is caused?

>You should keep up with the news, this is not an isolated incident.

It's news, and in fact, it is an isolated instance. You have many hundreds of reporters and photographers, thousands of images and stories, and out of this sea of stuff, you get a bad egg. who is detected. But the whole system is rotten??

And regarding the contrast to the Bush administration: the contrast is in punishment of mistakes and failure. REporters who blow it get fired. Secretaries of Defense who blow it stay on the job.

Israel can sue for libel?
Bush can sue for libel?
Rumsfeld can sue for libel?

Specifics, please.
If the administration sees an inaccurate story, Tony Snow can summon the press and say what was wrong, showing exactly how. So can the Israelis

This doesn't happen very often, but it sometimes does, and the media cover it when it does.

But that's really far afield.

I keep offering this challenge. Let me do it again today. Look at today's New York Times, or Washington Post, or other MSM of your choice. What's wrong with today's news? Where's an error? What story should be there that's not?

and there was an instant reaction
and my guess would be the photo editor is in trouble.

Where is the system not working?

Earth to kooks...
A third "fear" might be simple denial. The appeasement-leftists so hate Bush and the conservative movement (even though Bush is a conservative) that they will delude themselves into believing that their reality-view is the correct one.

Along with lying, fabrication and self-delusion, denial of any contradiction between their beliefs and evidence to the contrary enables them to continue with their holy mission of liberal-leftist-socialist-communist ascension.

The MSM, just a bunch of kooks.

TS

Money Talks
and BS walks.

"Cable network operating income rose 42 percent to $194 million on higher Fox News ad sales."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060808/media_nm/media_newscorp_earns_dc_9

And if I don't like a paper or a news channel I don't have to buy it or watch it.

Gulliver is missing the point
Gulliver is missing an important point in the examples were disscussing.

News that greatly exaggerates the the number of dead, or the ages of those who died, or whether they were civilians or combatants does immense PR damage, mainly to Israel, but also the any supporters of Israel.

The damage done doesn't get fixed by retracting a photo several days or weeks later.

The end result of the Qana distortions of fact, was three major Arab nations who opposed Hezbollas' actions, being forced because of the inaccurate reporting to reverse their stance and criticize Israels actions instead.

The MSM is either incredibly stupid, or deliberately letting Hezbollah use it in what is basically a worldwide PR war against Israel and the west.

The bias is so bad that the MSM won't even admit that Israel is at WAR with a well armed and highly trained army that is deliberately hiding among civilians and cynically using their deaths for propaganda purposes.
Shame on them, and shame on Hezbollah.

PS, anyone who has 10,000 missiles aren't simple freedom fighters.

Doc Savage
How many MSM outlets post and make available the photos people jumping from the WTC?

Or have the entire beheading video of Nick Berg?

MSM delight in showing bodies of Arab children (maybe) killed by Israeli bombs. Why not show the innocent victims of the terrorists?

Do you think that could be hateful?

So what's your alternative?
Sometimes media get it wrong. Is the idea that we're better off if we don't have newspapers and tv news operations? Or that we should censor news we don't like.

And I think the idea that irreparable damage is done by media mistakes (which always occur, in the nature of things) is exaggerated. Qana was only one element, and hardly a critical one, in the hardening of Arab government positions. Whether 20 or 50 civilian casualties resulted from one bombing raid did not change history. The fact of growing destruction all across S. Lebanon did. You may think that the governments should have had more patience, but to think that CBS or the New York Times (as opposed to Arab media, for example) were the key factor seems to me ridiculous.

>The MSM is either incredibly stupid, or deliberately letting Hezbollah use it in what is basically a worldwide PR war against Israel and the west.

So, again, what's your alternative? Forbid any reporting from Lebanon that doesn't agree with your preconceptions. Note that the Israeli position is being represented, and news of casualties in Israel are fully reported.

This isn't to support Hezbollah, or to call them "simple freedom fighters."

>The bias is so bad that the MSM won't even admit that Israel is at WAR with a well armed and highly trained army that is deliberately hiding among civilians and cynically using their deaths for propaganda purposes.

Who in the media or anywhere else doesn't admit this? It's being called a war, and every day I read stories about how well armed and highly trained the army is, and that it is embedded among civilians. There may be some people who don't believe this, for reasons of their own, but the reason certainly isn''t that this information is being kept secret or suppressed.

You tell me since you don't seem to understand much.
>"And in israel, they're led around by Israelis. In reports I've seen, they've made clear the groundrules they're operating under. The alternative is not to cover the war in S. Lebanon at all. Would that give you a better view? And, again, if you think one medium isn't getting it, change the channel."

Do the Israelis hold the passports of reporters? No, Hezbollah does. Do the Israelis threaten reporters with guns? No, Hezbollah does. Even CNN, the Cooper guy, has admitted that Hezbollah drastically slants coverage.

I do check other mediums. The point here is the obvious bias that you seem to want to whitewash.

>"What "damage?" They've pulled the pictures and fired him. What kind of damage is caused?"

How utterly oblivious of you. Are you saying you don't understand how propaganda works?

>"It's news, and in fact, it is an isolated instance. You have many hundreds of reporters and photographers, thousands of images and stories, and out of this sea of stuff, you get a bad egg. who is detected. But the whole system is rotten??"

What you claim is an isolated incident is not such thing. The whole of the MSM is not rotten because their are those reporters who state their bias and one can judge their stories based on that. I have no problem with that. My problem is that the MSM never admits to bias even when the examples are shoved in their faces.

Like I said, 90% of journalists describe themselves as being of liberal bent. Considering the doctoring, the lying, and the cover-ups how can they honestly say their coverage is not biased?

>"And regarding the contrast to the Bush administration: the contrast is in punishment of mistakes and failure. REporters who blow it get fired. Secretaries of Defense who blow it stay on the job."

Rumsfeld did not "blow it". That is your opinion. Rumsfeld has never lied or altered reports or information to Congress or his superiors. The Bush is treated by the media it is no wonder that he would keep Rumsfeld around. He is after all, out in two more years. News organizations live by the illusion of truth and when you take away that illusion your consumers find other products. That is the reason you fire those who are caught.

So let it go. Bush hatred is quite intellectually debilitating.

You keep reaching and keep failing
>"So why does the government in Washington keep talking about the war in Iraq?"

Because the war to take Iraq is over. The war against terrorism is still in full force. Learn to note difference. Or you could just use it as a weapon in your anti-Bush arsenal. I know you don't like to give up your favorite weapons.

>"The Whtie altered the reality to insert the sign. The media dutifiully presented what they were given. If they hadn't shown the footage, or had immediately commented that it was phony-looking, they'd be called unpatriotic."

So putting up a sign for a PR campaign is "altering reality"? And when the press presents that picture to the public they are somehow accomplicies? You have some very strange definitions. How again is this like altering photographs and biased reporting?

Why wouldn't the press present the picture? They did, in fact, report that the President's people put the sign up so I am wondering which aspect of this you believe to be an attempt to alter what really happened. You are truly reaching now.

Funny you should ask...
In Lebanon and Israel. The posing for pictures, the alteration of multiple photos, the rush to condemn Israel over false body counts and staged "massacres"... do it seem like your "system" is working?

You'd figure that...
...after cBS's Rathergate that the MSM would be FAR more careful about their repeated lies.

Yes, repeated lies.

That is the perception now. They didn't learn the first time.

Now, if you could stick to the story, Gullible, about the MSM and not Bush, you might be believable.

The story will be buried...
except for the blogspace.

But it won't be forgotten.

That reality just shows that.....
our "western" media is sympathetic of islam and hateful of all things western and democratic.
I have to dig around on Google and answers.com to find video of Americans leaping from the WTC to their deaths to escape the blistering heat while there are constant pictures, discussions, and protests against the US using military dogs to BARK at islamic prisoners.
I know what side the American media is supporting.

Where is the competition?
When a news organization makes a mistake, where are its competitors to point out that mistake and rub their noses in it?

Any excuse will do
We are still at war in Iraq. you can call it a war against anything you like: it's still a war and it's still in Iraq.

>So putting up a sign for a PR campaign is "altering reality"? And when the press presents that picture to the public they are somehow accomplicies? You have some very strange definitions. How again is this like altering photographs and biased reporting?

Of cours it is: The ship didn't have the sign before the White House put it there. This didn't alter the reality that the war hadn't been won and was continuing, But it altered what people saw. That is what PR is. And reporting news as opposed to PR is part of the mission of the press.

>Why wouldn't the press present the picture? They did, in fact, report that the President's people put the sign up so I am wondering which aspect of this you believe to be an attempt to alter what really happened. You are truly reaching now.

They finally found out that the White House had put up the sign much later, after inquiries. The original story ran as a trumphant press release, exactly as the White House had presented it. But you have no problems with it.

Read the paper
I'm seeing critical and careful stories by reporters who are risking their lives to get them. When stories are false, they are corrected.

You seem to have the idea that the ultimate, perfect truth about all events is out there in pristine form, and all that the MSM or anyone else has to do is reach up & print it. It doesn't work that way. It's finding fact after fact after fact and putting them together, usually under a deadline. On this planet, that's the way it works. If you have another model, please share it.

Who reports the news and controls the content
The MSM hates the idea that they can't control the content nor the story anymore and hence the agenda. One wonders what would have happened in Vietnam if the internet had existed. I daresay Cronkite wouldn't have gotten away with his Leftist propoganda.

What does amaze me is when any publication sacrifices integrity for its agenda it abandons any pretense of credibility and becomes Air America. How CNN, the Globe, the Times, Reuters and the major networks could have adopted such a stance is beyond me.

Truer words were never spoken...
You hit the nail on the head with that title Gulliver. In your zeal to bash Bush you shot yourself in the foot... again.

>"We are still at war in Iraq. you can call it a war against anything you like: it's still a war and it's still in Iraq."

If that is the nature of your illusions then so be it. I am sure that I will not change your mind.

>"Of cours it is: The ship didn't have the sign before the White House put it there. This didn't alter the reality that the war hadn't been won and was continuing, But it altered what people saw. That is what PR is. And reporting news as opposed to PR is part of the mission of the press."

So you believe that a sign put up by White House staffers and the reporters who were invited to be on board to report the PR stunt is an equivalent to a conscious effort to alter photos and stage photo-ops to paint one side of a war as war criminals? No matter how ignorant this makes you look I know that you will not back down. It was a stupid point to bring up but you keep running buddy.

I don't know about you but I am understanding that when a politician appears on TV that most likely the signs behind him are going to be positive in nature. Or perhaps you believe the signs behind any politicians to be an equivalent to altering photos and slanting news? I hope you don't watch coverage of campaigns, your head will explode.

In fact, the MSM immediately set about to calling the Mission Accomplished stunt as a PR move. Which it was. They didn't alter a photo or slant it at all but they did call it what it was.

>"They finally found out that the White House had put up the sign much later, after inquiries. The original story ran as a trumphant press release, exactly as the White House had presented it. But you have no problems with it."

Do you know the difference between a press release and reporting a story? It is obvious you don't.

Please, by all means, for once back up your inane little argument with a fact. Please source the time difference between the PR stunt and how long it took the press to call it a PR stunt. I have so let's see what you come up with.

And yes, I am prefectly happy with the reporting of Bush's trip to the aircraft carrier. He landed, shook hands, there was a sign that said "Mission Accomplished", and he left. I knew it was PR as did the press. No problem.

Dan Rather anyone?
Another Eric rant shown to be what it is.

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