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The Associated Press controversy over its six burning Sunnis story is not just about AP. It’s a burning credibility crisis that stretches from Pallywood to the Fauxtography scandal and beyond.

Milblogger Greyhawk takes on the Times’ Ed Wong and his reporting in Hurriya. Greyhawk zeroes in on this paragraph:

From morning until afternoon, at least four mosques were attacked in Hurriya, a mixed neighborhood in the capital. Two were destroyed, and at least 5 Sunnis were killed and 10 wounded, an Interior Ministry official said. A hard-line Sunni Arab group, the Muslim Scholars Association, said 18 people had been killed when one of the mosques burned down.

Apparently a separate incident from the “6 Sunnis burned alive” claim – and one with no quotes from neighbors to support or dispute it, something admittedly within Ed’s ability to deliver. As I’ve noted before, 18 is more than 6, and a “burned down” mosque is relatively easy enough to verify. Given Ed’s passion for balanced reporting, it’s unfortunate he failed to at least note the well known connection between the Association of Muslim Scholars and al Qaeda – opting instead for the ambiguous “hard line” descriptor. And yes, this is the same group that claimed 184 Sunni mosques had been attacked within hours of the Shrine bombing (and that now appears to be rupturing after their leader fled Iraq)…

…if the NY Times is serious about accurate reporting from Iraq, they might want to start examining the work of their own man on the scene, who’s never met an unsubstantiated rumor of atrocity he found unfit to print.

Recall, as Curt at Flopping Aces noted, that the military refuted the mosque-burning stories on Nov. 25:

Contrary to recent media reporting that four mosques were burned in Hurriya, an Iraqi Army patrol investigating the area found only one mosque had been burned in the neighborhood.

Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted a patrol in Hurriya Friday afternoon in response to media reports that four mosques were being burned as retaliation for the VBIED attacks in Sadr City on Thursday.

The Soldiers set up a checkpoint near the Al Muhaimen mosque at approximately 2 p.m. and found the mosque intact with no evidence of any fire at the location.

While investigating the Al Meshaheda mosque, the patrol received small arms fire from unknown insurgents. The patrol returned fire, and the insurgents broke contact and fled the area. A subsequent check of the mosque found the mosque intact with no evidence of a fire.

At approximately 3:50 p.m., a local civilian reported to the patrol that armed insurgents had set the Al-Nidaa mosque on fire by throwing a gas container into the mosque. The patrol pursued the insurgents but lost contact with them.

The Soldiers called the fire department and set up a cordon around the mosque. Local fire trucks responded to the scene and extinguished the fire at approximately 4:00 p.m. The mosque sustained smoke and fire damage in the entry way but was not destroyed.

An alleged attack on a fourth mosque remains unconfirmed. The patrol was also unable to confirm media reports that six Sunni civilians were allegedly dragged out of Friday prayers and burned to death. Neither Baghdad police nor Coalition forces have reports of any such incident.

Paging Tom Zeller…

Speaking of Zeller, Ace pointed out something strangely missing in his coverage of the six burning Sunnis story yesterday: Not a word about Jamil Hussein. Why?

Dan Riehl notes that neither Time magazine nor al Jazeera has been able to confirm AP’s report of the six burning Sunnis. We continue our coverage at Hot Air today here.

Curt at Flopping Aces summed up where things stand this way:

Unnamed witnesses. One fraudalent witness. One witness who recanted. No bodies. No family members of the victims found. No evidence of burned bodies on the street such as clothing. No outcry from local clerics and politicians…

But who are we to question the media[,] right?

Mark Tapscott at the Examiner calls for an investigation:

It’s time for AP to take the same sort of approach to resolve the Captain Jamil Hussein controversy. But there is one big difference between the present issue and the Dan Rather/”60 Minutes” ordeal – AP provides news to virtually every daily newspaper in America. AP is a cornerstone of the mainstream media. If AP’s credibiilty is harmed, every news organization that uses its products also suffers.

Thus, AP should ask the American Society of Newspaper Editors to oversee the appointment and conduct of an independent panel of respected journalists and outside evidentiary experts to determine the truth behind Captain Jamil Hussein and all other sources similarly in doubt.

To allow this controversy to continue to fester without taking decisive actions to resolve it to everybody’s satisfaction could be disastrous for journalists everywhere.

Wretchard at The Belmont Club contemplates blogs and the collection-analysis-dissemination cycle.

Jim Hoft notes that Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz Hakim addressed dubious media reporting at his meeting with President Bush.

Meanwhile, Brian Montopoli (to his credit) is blogging at the CBS News website. He writes:

In the end, where you stand on this one comes down to who you have faith in. Conservative bloggers tend to believe the military over a press corps that they feel is unworthy of their trust. Journalists, who are inherently distrustful of power, tend to trust their colleagues over the military. In an ideal world, both sides could put aside their prejudices and look objectively at the facts. Bloggers too often let their outrage cloud their judgment, and journalists can be too quick to dismiss criticism. The sooner both sides acknowledge as much, the better. But judging from how this one has played out, I’m not holding my breath.

Well, I’m not holding my breath that anyone at CBS News other than Montopoli will lift a finger to get to the truth.

Paging Katie Couric?




The alleged war atrocity that the NYTimes can’t substantiate

Rumors and reporting in Iraq

Burning Sunnis, burning mosques, burning questions

Burning Six update: The AP responds (to USA Today); update: and now, a new AP account

Real news vs. fake news in Iraq

The media fog of war

The Associated (with terrorists) Press strikes again

Bilal Hussein’s congresswoman

AP runs to the Washington Post

AP stands for Advocacy Press

AP vs. the “so-called blogosphere”

Associated Press and the Bilal Hussein case

Where is Bilal Hussein?

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)