Best Behavior?

Generally speaking, I don’t think internet conservatives have succeeded in “keeping the mainstream media honest.” On the contrary, I think the MSM in general have become more nakedly partisan in recent years. Still, the news agencies appear to have been stung by the exposure of fakery that took place during and after Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon. This time around, both the Associated Press and Reuters seem to be trying to avoid scandal.

I’ve been watching the international news photos pretty closely, and so far, the conflict in Gaza does not appear to have given rise to any incidents of fauxtography. Nor have we seen the kinds of obviously staged photos (e.g., of terrorists in heroic poses) that characterized not only the Lebanon conflict but years of reporting on Iraq. To be sure, AP and Reuters have flooded us with photos of injured Palestinian children and elderly Palestinian women standing on top of piles of rubble, and the news agencies’ reporting has reflected the standard liberal, anti-Israel slant. But again, that’s an improvement over outright fabrication.

The news services’ reliance on Palestinian stringers as reporters and photographers continues to be problematic. We were reminded of this yesterday, when the AP’s star reporter in Gaza, Ibraham Barzak, wrote a personal narrative of his own experiences during the Gaza conflict:

I live alone in my office. My wife and two young children moved in with her father after our apartment was shattered. The neighborhood mosque, where I have prayed since I was a child, had its roof blown off. All the government buildings on my beat have been obliterated.

After days of Israeli shelling, the city and life I have known no longer exist. …

Three days after Israel began its airstrikes against Hamas militants on Dec. 27, my apartment building was shaken by bombs aimed at a nearby Hamas-run government compound.

My brother took a picture of the room where my boys, 2-year-old Hikmet and 6-month-old Ahmed, once slept. Their toys were broken, shrapnel had punched through the closet and the bedroom wall had collapsed. I don’t know if we will ever go back.

There are other pictures that haunt me. The Israeli army issued a video of the bombing of the Hamas-run government compound, which it posted on YouTube. In it, I also can see my home being destroyed, and I watch it obsessively.

Some of my colleagues lost their houses to the shelling as well, and are sleeping on mattresses spread across the floors of an apartment upstairs from The Associated Press bureau.

This account by Barzak is actually quite scrupulous in acknowledging that in the instances he describes, the Israelis were striking at legitimate Hamas targets. One can only imagine, though, how different the AP’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be if its dispatches were being written by Israelis whose homes had been destroyed by Hamas or Hezbollah rockets.

Finally, I can’t leave the subject of wire service photography without passing along this Reuters image of a Palestinian Authority security officer in Bethlehem, kicking a rock-throwing protester in an appropriate spot:


UPDATE: On the other hand, we have a faked scene in a Gaza hospital, which CNN fell for.

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