Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

  The Paradox of Idiocy: Wingers 'expose' Qana photos as staged

Between my orchard and flower bed sits an overgrown thicket of scrub and poison ivy. Years ago, you could occasionally venture in to pick a few mediocre grapes growing in a tangle there. But it's become an outright nuisance in what ought to be a central part of our landscape. Only a colossal effort could make it productive again.

So too the territory occupied by right wingers in the U.S. If they've anything valuable to say, you couldn't discover it midst the chaotic and noxious weeds of their minds. And the bombs raining down in Lebanon have just watered the gardens of the superpatriots' hatred.

A perfect specimen is an absurd little weed that the true-believers rushed to cultivate when it first popped up the other day. After a British blogger managed to convince himself that wire service photos from Qana had been staged, wingers in the U.S. competed to embellish the baseless accusation. And though the AP published an article rebutting the charge, fevered minds on the right are having none of it.

Here is really all that you need to know about the Bush partisans. Mere facts stand little chance against their cherished fictions. Bile points the way toward 'truth'. Any inconvenient news can be chalked up to a corrupt media. The enemies of Oceania are expert propagandists. Nothing can be the matter with any of Bush & Co.'s wars. The right wingers' ability to uncover the various reasons why that is so, day after day, when leftists meekly accept biased news coverage, reveals their own deeper intellectual powers.

It's the paradox of idiocy. The idiot treats his own misinformed foolishness as a mark of distinction, the height of sophistication. The refusal to see sense is a natural corollary of the inability to see it.

The facts are easily explained. On July 31, a rather badly misinformed superpatriot in Britain, Richard North, wrote that the photos taken of the rescue efforts at Qana by Reuters, Associated Press, and AFP photographers had been staged. He claimed, improbably, that bodies extracted from the bombed building had been manipulated by rescuers in order to create propaganda for Hizbollah, and that the photographers had gone along with the fiction; that the bodies were paraded around again and again by various rescuers; that they were loaded in ambulances, unloaded and then loaded again; that the rescuers amplified and exaggerated the physical damage to the bodies for the cameras.

It's more than simply a charge of unethical behavior; the alleged perpetrators probably would have committed crimes in desecrating these bodies. North is unhappy that the Qana bombing turned into a PR disaster for Israel, and evidently he's willing to create a lot of collateral damage in order to carry his point.

But what is his evidence for the charge? Essentially this: that the time stamps on the photos published on line are all over the map. For example, a photo of a child's corpse lying inside an ambulance has a time stamp that predates by several hours the stamp on a photo of the same body being lifted into the ambulance. According to North, this is proof that the photographers staged these photos for purposes of propaganda.

If you were the sort of person who listens to Rush Limbaugh, you'd know that he trampled all over this 'story' on the day North posted it.

If we don't start really kicking butt in this war, including not just allowing, but in fact urging Israel to viciously attack this enemy, we're going to end up losing it, and then it's going to take something worse than this to wake everybody back up, and I'm afraid that's going to be a nuclear weapon in the hands of an Islamofascist group.


The truth of what happened at Qana has been as distorted as what has happened and did happen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It's almost identical. The Media is proving that they are incapable of accurately covering a war now, perhaps because they don't want to. You'll see what I mean when you take a look at this website. It's eureferendum.blogspot. When you see this photo display, this guy has gone through a lot of work to show how the Hezbos are milking this, parading their own dead in front of the cameras, posing them at different times, taking them in and out of ambulances, covering them with dust, holding them for hours on end, and these are still photographers taking the pictures, obviously, and these photographers are obviously willing to participate in propaganda. They know exactly what's being done, all these photos, bringing the bodies out of the rubble, posing them for the cameras, it's all staged.

Every bit of it is staged and the still photographers know it. Yet they send these pictures out without saying all of this is being staged for us. They send these pictures out as though they are in a timeline of an exact sequence, which they are not, which you will see when you read it. So the point is, Israel is probably not even killing all these civilians….

The photographs are grisly. They are quite disturbing. I should warn you about that before you go see them, but you have to see how the PR and the spin war is being managed and how our Drive-By Media and the rest of the world media is just falling for it hook, line, and sinker because it's their action line. Action line is, Bush is wrong, Israel sucks, Rice is bad, Bolton's bad, gotta get rid of Rumsfeld and all these people, Bush is horrible, Israel's horrible. In fact, Israel may have replaced Bush now in terms of being the primary target of the Drive-By Media. Bush will get it back. But they're covering Israel in this war the way they've covered Bush in practically everything since he was inaugurated back in 2001.


I can't understand any of Limbaugh's premises, beginning with the assumption that bombing Lebanon is 'our' war, or his conclusions, for example the business about nuclear weapons ending up in some ill-defined group's hands. But never mind, let this selection of his blatherings stand as a warning that the man is an idiot.

Meanwhile, most of the other fatheads on the right were huffing and puffing this story up. If you were that sort of person, you could check out the oeuvre of Michelle Malkin to get a sense of how much play the nuts were giving an allegation that, say what you will, involved neither Dan Rather nor kerning.

The larger problem was that it was untrue. The Associated Press went so far as to publish an article on Aug. 1 demolishing the allegations.

Three news agencies on Tuesday rejected challenges to the veracity of photographs of bodies taken in the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon, strongly denying that the images were staged.

Photographers from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse all covered rescue operations Sunday in Qana, where 56 Lebanese were killed. Many of their photos depicted rescue workers carrying dead children.

A British Web site, the EU Referendum blog, built an argument that chicanery may have been involved by citing time stamps that went with captions of the photographs.


Given how much trouble we had to go to last summer just to get the AP to report about a real and significant story, the Downing Street Memo, it's a sign of progress I suppose that they're now issuing immediate reports on hare-brained blog posts about, well, nothing at all.

In this case, the nothing was concocted by Richard North out of his confusion between published time stamps, which reflect the time when a photo is posted on line, and the camera's own time meter. Had he or any of his frenzied American readers taken the slightest trouble to inquire about the extremely basic question of how wire service time stamps function, the entire 'story' would have collapsed in upon itself.

But since they didn't bother, they weren't about to allow a trivial matter of fact get in the way of the conspiracy theory. North himself, who has been writing obsessively about inconsequential aspects of the dress and location of rescuers in these pictures, finally tried to bolster his mistake by denouncing the AP, earning a rebuke from the Guardian blogger Roy Greenslade

More to the point, the American superpatriots leapt upon the AP story and tore flesh. True to form, Malkin kept up her unsteady drumbeat in the face of facts. Little Green Goofballs expressed the opinion that the AP rebuttal was actually the first crack in the façade; then an update demanded that the wire services release info about the time when each photo was taken; then a second update announced that the time stamps don't really matter because North's (inconsequential) observations carry the day anyhow. That was followed by this surreal post showing, I suppose, that AP outlandishly refuses to admit its reporters have been exposed as frauds by the fighting keyboardists.

You'll look in vain for any admission at these sites that many innocents died a horrible death as a result of the bombings, the photographic evidence of which the wingers are pawing over, looking for any weakness. In this world view, death is an act of terrorism; it must be defeated, at any cost.

One of the great ironies is that, for all their confidence in their own mental acuity, the Republican superpatriots (but I'm repeating myself) put their minds in a blind trust when Bush was elected. All the evidence suggests that, for many of the Bush partisans, there won't be much value in retrieving them after 2008.

Crossposted at Unbossed.

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