Two stories that made the buzz around the blogosphere of late have turned out to be a bit more convoluted than originally thought, and the idea that certain folks ought to eat a little crow has been making the rounds.
The first was the “Lonely Senator Kerry” photo. When it was first released, a lot of people (myself included) saw the photo of the good senator and erstwhile president sitting apart from the troops in Iraq and took it as the troops’ disdaining to share his presence. That prompted a huge outcry from the left, who immediately accused various and sundry folks of Reutersing the photo, altering it to suit their political bias. The “true” story took a few days to come out: Kerry was actually having a private discussion with some reporters, away from the troops.
I put quotes around “true” because it still strikes me as a bit odd that the real explanation took some time to come out. And I think it speaks volumes that Kerry, when presented with the chance to bump elbows with our troops on the ground, instead chose to use the opportunity to speak with reporters.
It strikes me as a sort of “anti-Texas Air National Guard” kind of a moment. In that case, the argument was that the documents were “fake, but accurate.” Here, much to the chagrin of the conspiracy-minded Kerry defenders, the photo was “real, but inaccurate.”
Next up is the Jamil Hussein mess. Let’s start off with what I think might be a fair recap:
A while ago, a certain fine blogger noted something odd about the AP’s reports out of Baghdad. A great number of stories involving Shiite attacks on Sunnis all cited the same source, “Captain Jilal Hussein” of the Baghdad Police Department. But while the good captain’s reporting was remarkably focused on topic, it was literally all over the map geographically.
This might make a certain amount of sense in an American city, where a certain high-ranking officer might take on all gang-related crime instead of focusing on one area, but in Baghdad that didn’t seem to hold up, especially after it seemed that no one besides the AP had even heard of the captain.
Considering the AP and other news agencies’ tendency to get their information from rather questionable sources, as well as a spotty history of reliable information, suspicion was certainly warranted. And the longer the AP ignored the legitimate questions, the greater the concern that “Captain Jilal Hussein” simply did not exist.
Here, the AP did themselves no favors. They said they verified his existence, and he checked out. Then it came out that their verification process consisted of saying “well, we called him up and asked if he was legit, and he said he was.” This technique, if widely adopted in other areas, could lead to a major crisis in France, as several hundred Napoleon Bonapartes would be freed from mental asylums and could return to seek the throne yet again. (Hmm… would that be a bad thing?)
After several go-arounds with the Iraqi government saying that there is no such person, or maybe there is, the AP has come out with its definitive statement (or, at least, the last one that is still operative): the captain exists and was their source, despite his own denials.
So, where the hell do things stand right now with the AP, Captain Hussein, and the 60+ stories attributed to him all involving Shiite atrocities against Sunnis? Well, the last story (six Sunnis burned to death, along with several mosques) has pretty much fallen apart. The AP keeps saying he’s real and legit, but we have to take their word for it; the Iraqi Ministry of Information can’t keep track of who is real and who isn’t, let alone who is authorized to speak to the press; and Michelle Malkin is putting on her Deerstalker and breaking out her cloak to see if she can track him down.
Right now, it’s still too early to put paid to this whole odd account. The AP has not exactly been a paragon of openness and clarity in explaining just who its source for all those stories of Shiite atrocities, and just why we should simply take their word for it.
Yogi Berra once famously said “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” And sometimes, not even then.