It has become pretty clear in the past 24-48 hours that the news reporting from Iraq by the Associated Press is false, misleading and most likely been a purposeful propaganda effort by the Iraqi insurgents and/or Al-Qaeda.
Here is a refresher on the scandal from Eason Jordan, formerly of CNN, who has now become a key player in exposing the AP’s fictional source and “news” from Iraq.
The back story: On November 24, the AP quoted Iraqi Police Captain Jamil Hussein as the source of a sensational AP story that began this way:
“Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by.”
It was a horrific report that was an AP exclusive – a story picked up and reported by news outlets across the U.S. and the world.
The U.S. military and Iraqi officials were quick to call the story baseless, saying there was no evidence that six Sunnis were burned to death in Hurriya and that there was no record of an Iraqi police captain named Jamil Hussein. The U.S. military and the Iraqi government demanded the AP retract the story and explain itself.
Bob at Confederate Yankee spent the past week dissecting all of the 60 Associated Press stories using Jamil Hussein as a “police source.” (Bravo, Bob!)
Put bluntly, a search for other news agency accounts of the events described by Jamil Hussein seems to indicate that most of these events simply do not exist anywhere else except in AP reporting. I was completely unable to find a definitive corroborating account of any of Jamil Hussein’s accounts, anywhere.
That I was unable to find corroborating accounts for some stories is quite understandable; even in non-war-torn countries some news organizations have access to some stories denied others, as reporting assets and sources are not evenly distributed.
Most of the AP dispatches using Jamil Hussein as a source were simply not that big in the wider and often larger chaos of the bloody sectarian conflict whirling through Baghdad; a gunbattle killing two suicide bombers, or even a non-fatal car-bombing is something that has sadly become far too common in many parts of Iraq, and Baghdad in particular. That other news agencies don’t account for every single attack of this kind is not surprising-though it should be somewhat suspect when in 40 straight stories, not a single one of your competitors captured the same event. Not one. At that point, some sort of editorial oversight should have kicked in, should it not?
And yet, in 40 AP stories checked, only in two instances covering a total of four stories did I run into anything approaching possible corroboration.
So far, the Associated Press (like CBS News & Dan Rather in the Bush Forged Documents case), have refused to admit something is wrong.
Eason Jordan, who as CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief admitted to covering up the atrocities of Saddam’s Iraq in trade for access for his network, has harsh words to the Associated Press on its Jamil Hussein integrity scandal:
Until this controversy is resolved, every one of those AP reports is tainted.
When two governments challenge the veracity of your reporting, when there are reasonable doubts about whether your prime named source for a sensational exclusive story exists, when there’s no proof a reported horrific incident occurred, when the news outlet responsible for the disputed report stonewalls and is stridently defensive, when the validity of dozens of other of your reports has been called into question as a result, then that news organization has a scandal on its hands, and that is where the AP finds itself.
Having learned from my own successes and failures and those of others, I know that a journalistic scandal can be handled effectively only when the news organization’s management deals with it proactively, constructively, and transparently, with a readiness to admit any mistake, to apologize for it, and to take appropriate corrective action.
The AP has failed to do so in this case.
I, therefore, urge the AP to appoint an independent panel to determine the facts about the disputed report, to determine whether Iraqi Police Captain Jamil Hussein exists, and to share the panel’s full findings and recommendations with the public.
Until this matter is resolved, the AP’s credibility will suffer.
The American news media’s reporting and bias about World War III – Iraq Battle is critical because our enemies have admitted that using our own news media against us is part of their strategy.
The AP owes the American people and the Iraqi people the truth: WHO IS JAMIL HUSSEIN and why has the AP been so eager to peddle his information?