Sunday, November 26, 2006

Which Truth Do You Want?

Patterico has been discussing an L.A. Times article in which a correspondent claimed that the U.S. military "pulvarized" 15 houses in Ramadi, killing more than 30 people, including women and children. The U.S. military denies that the airstrike happened, and the L.A. Times failed to report that denial.

Other news outlets didn't report the incident the same way.

Indeed, I found only one story (published by Reuters) in which a journalist claims to have been on the scene to report observations of the damage firsthand, and he said: "One small structure was burnt out in that street."

According to a soldier who was involved, the correspondent used by the L.A. Times "has ties to the insurgency, and is knowingly repeating enemy propaganda." According to the soldier at a blog called One Oar in the Water,
The [L.A. Times article] is an example of why you simply cannot believe most media reports coming out of Iraq. The LA Time[s] reporter, Solomon Moore, is not in Ramadi. He relies on an Iraqi stringer here who has ties to insurgents. In this article, Moore repeats almost verbatim, insurgent propaganda we have intercepted. The fighting in question occurred in my battle space within Ramadi and I was personally and intimately involved.

Is it possible that the airstrike did happen the way the L.A. Times reported it and the U.S. military is covering up? I suppose it's possible, but a lot of bloggers are quite skeptical about the claims, especially after the fake photos from Lebanon in early August.

I commented on a few blogs at the time of the Reuters photo kerfluffle that there is always a possibility of propaganda being presented to us as news when foreign correspondents are used. This is because "truth" is quite a flexible concept in many parts of the world, and lying or exaggerating are permissible as long as you get your story out.

Remember the flap about the U.S. government paying Iraqi publications to print stories that burnished the American image in the area? A lot of people were outraged that such propaganda was being promoted by our government. But is promoting positive images worse than lying about airstrikes?