AP Strikes Back at Bloggers, Defends ‘Burning Six’ Stories

The AP released a really quite pathetic statement defending themselves in the ‘Burning Six’ story. Pathetic. Penned by one Kathleen Carroll, executive editor and senior vice president of AP, it reads more like a high school kid wrote it.

I’m tempted to go line by line, but the reply is so poor, it isn’t worth the time. Still, some of it is too insanely stupid to go unanswered:

In recent days, a handful of people have stridently criticized The Associated Press’ coverage of a terrible attack on Iraqi citizens last month in Baghdad. Some of those critics question whether the incident happened at all and declare that they don’t believe our reporting.

Now stop right there. Did a member of the media in the post Rathergate, post Katrina, post Jayson Blair, post Fauxtography era just get pissy because some of us poor unwashed masses didn’t believe them unquestioningly?

The nerve of us.

Indeed, a small number of them have whipped themselves into an indignant lather over the AP’s reporting.

We ditched the Pajamas and now we’re blogging from the bathtub. Don’t you just love laptops and Wifi?

Their assertions that the AP has been duped or worse are unfounded and just plain wrong.

And for proof I offer…..

No organization has done more to try to shed light on what happened Nov. 24 in the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad than The Associated Press.

We’re wonderful.

We have sent journalists to the neighborhood three different times to talk with people there about what happened. And those residents have repeatedly told us, in some detail, that Shiite militiamen dragged six Sunni worshippers from a mosque, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive.

No one else has said they have actually gone to the neighborhood. Particularly not the individuals who have criticized our journalism with such barbed certitude.

We’re wonderful and you’re not.

…Some of AP’s critics question the existence of police Capt. Jamil Hussein, who was one (but not the only) source to tell us about the burning.

These critics cite a U.S. military officer and an Iraqi official who first said Hussein is not an authorized spokesman and later said he is not on their list of Interior Ministry employees. It’s worth noting that such lists are relatively recent creations of the fledgling Iraqi government.

And here is where Mrs. Kathleen Carroll loses it….

By contrast, Hussein is well known to AP. We first met him, in uniform, in a police station, some two years ago. We have talked with him a number of times since then and he has been a reliable source of accurate information on a variety of events in Baghdad.

No one – not a single person – raised questions about Hussein’s accuracy or his very existence in all that time. Those questions were raised only after he was quoted by name describing a terrible attack in a neighborhood that U.S. and Iraqi forces have struggled to make safe.

Can you believe that is what passes for intellectual thought at the AP?

Nobody questioned his existence before, so he must exist. WOW that’s just dumb.

But she says even dumber things….

That neighborhood, Hurriyah, is a particularly violent section of Baghdad. … Here’s how AP veteran Patrick Quinn described life in Hurriyah on Oct. 11 this year:

“By early October, Shiite militiamen were roaming the streets of Hurriyah, kidnapping, killing and intimidating Sunnis. Handbills circulating this fall warned that 10 Sunnis would die for every Shiite killed.” … [stuff snipped about Iraq being violent -ed]

No one from the Iraqi Interior Ministry or the U.S. military complained about those descriptions. In fact, soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, 172nd Stryker Brigade were dispatched to Hurriyah late this summer to try to bring it under control.

‘You see, the U.S. Army sent in Strykers. That proves our reporting is correct.’

I know what she’s trying to do… It’s called the “fake but true” defense.

‘Our source may not exist, but Iraq is a violent place, so something like this happened even if it didn’t really happen.’ — That didn’t work for Dan Rather either.

What other proof does Mrs. Carroll offer?

The Iraqi journalists who work for the AP are smart, dedicated and incredibly courageous to go into the streets every day, talking to their countrymen and trying to capture a portrait of their home in a historic and tumultuous period. [and they would never have an agenda -ed]

The work is dangerous: two people who work for AP have been killed since this war began in 2003. Many others have been hurt, some badly.

Several of AP’s Iraqi journalists were victimized by Saddam Hussein’s regime and bear scars of his torture or the loss of relatives killed by his goons. Those journalists have no interest in furthering the chaos that makes daily life in Iraq so perilous. They want what any of us want: To be able to live and work without fear and raise their children in peace and safety.

DING! – When in trouble, mention children. Anyone who doubts the AP’s story must hate children! Sigh…. You would think a trained journalist could do better.

Questioning their integrity and work ethic is simply offensive.

Too bad. If they don’t want to have their reporting questioned, I suggest they get a new line of work. And yes Mrs. Carroll, we’re even mean enough to question the veracity of people who have children.

We bloggers can be real bastards that way.

Journalist should welcome people reviewing their work. — If they are doing their job.

Earlier in her missive, Mrs. Carroll lauds the AP for being “transparent” on this story but now gets “offended” if anyone questions their work. You would think she could be consistent for more than a few paragraphs.

It’s awfully easy to take pot shots from the safety of a computer keyboard thousands of miles from the chaos of Baghdad.

Mind you, we’re not there either… We just hire local stringers to get the story. Those poor bastards live there anyway. We stay in the green zone.

The Iraq war is one of hundreds of conflicts that AP journalists have covered in the past 160 years. Our only goal is to provide fair, impartial coverage of important human events as they unfold. We check our facts and check again.

That is what we have done in the case of the Hurriyah attack. And that is why we stand by our story.

Bluster, bluster and more bluster.

Mrs. Carroll offers nothing more than bluster, indignation and middle-school level logic. (and that last part probably insults middle-schoolers)

It really is simple. If Capt. Jamil Hussein exists, Mrs. Carroll should bring him forward. Let her make a fool of her critics. Let her put egg on the face of the blogosphere and Centcom.

Because so far, this reply only makes me think the AP is hiding something. The blogosphere may be wrong and the media may have the story correct.

But which side would you put your money on?

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