Thursday, December 21, 2006

Eric Boehlert on the Right's War Against Journalists

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Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, who has been covering the right's campaign to delegitimize an entire news organization and the press in general based on whether one horrific act of violence in Iraq actually occurred, has a piece up today (dated December 19) about the warbloggers' response (none) to the December 19 murder of Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, an AP cameraman, by Iraqi insurgents:

December 12 brought news that Associated Press Television News cameraman Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah was killed in Mosul while filming a gun battle between police and insurgents. Considering the daily wave of killings that washes ashore in Iraq, there wasn't much reason for Lutfallah's slaying to be especially newsworthy to the general public, given the fact that 129 journalists and their support staff have been killed in Iraq since 2003. The same low-level interest seemed to hold true for right-wing warbloggers, who uniformly ignored the news of the cameraman's murder.

Except for the fact that Lutfallah worked for the AP and, over the last three weeks, warbloggers like Michelle Malkin and sites such as Power Line, Wizbang, Confederate Yankee, and Flopping Aces have been in high dudgeon, eviscerating the global wire service for producing allegedly pro-terrorist reporting from Iraq. Warbloggers, all boosters of the doomed U.S. invasion, have been poring over the AP's dispatches, feverishly dissecting paragraphs in search of proof for their all-consuming conspiracy theory that biased American journalists, too cowardly to go get the bloody news in Iraq themselves, are relying on local news stringers who have obvious sympathies for insurgents and who actively "spread terrorist propaganda," according to right-wing blog Little Green Footballs. The result of the AP hoax? Gullible, or "average," Americans have been duped into believing there is a "civil war" raging in Baghdad today.
Warbloggers are obsessed with all things AP, or the "Associated (with terrorists) Press," as Malkin subtly calls it. Which brings us back to news of Lutfallah's death and the odd silence that emanated from the warblogs -- and by odd, I mean, wildly hypocritical, because the silence sprang from the fact that the circumstances of Lutfallah's murder didn't fit the warbloggers' ideological script. Namely, that Lutfallah was executed by insurgents, which completely undermined the warbloggers' theory that the AP enjoys close ties to terrorists.

According to warblogger logic, the insurgents should have made sure Lutfallah got the best film of the gun fight with police; in fact, insurgents might have even tipped him off that a battle was going to take place. That's how the drill is supposed to work. Yet insurgents in Mosul, after seeing the AP cameraman filming and then identifying him, approached the father of two and emptied five bullets into his body, took his equipment, cell phone, and press ID. They shot him like a dog in the street.

So much for the AP and insurgents working in concert.

You can be sure that if Lutfallah had been killed by Iraqi police during the gun battle and warbloggers in any way could have portrayed him as an enemy, they would have howled about Lutfallah's death for days, smearing his name with all sorts of terrorist innuendos and demanding that the AP explain itself. But when word came that an AP journalist had been executed by Iraqi insurgents, the warbloggers knew to keep quiet.

Of course, for anybody who's paid even passing attention to events in Iraq, the killing of Lutfallah was, sadly, not unique. Insurgents for years have targeted journalists for kidnappings, beheadings, and assassinations. As CNN international correspondent Michael Ware recently noted, "In terms of the insurgency, [journalists] are seen as legitimate targets: part of the problem, not the solution."

Specifically, insurgents have often targeted local Iraqi journalists working for Western-friendly news outlets for execution; the same Iraqi journalists warbloggers insist have such chummy relationships with Baghdad terrorists. ...

There's much more, and you should read it.

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