***updated with MSM contact info below…Dan Riehl follows up with observations about the ambulance license plates…Related: Daniel Freedman on Hezbollah’s helpers at the Red Cross…Somewhat related: NYer arrested for broadcasting Hezbollah TV…***
***update II: video of Brit Hume’s coverage of Zombie’s report tonight…now where’s the rest of the media?***
Take a good look at these three images of Red Cross ambulances in Lebanon, supposedly deliberately targeted by Israel, and broadcast worldwide by the MSM last month:
On August 6, I linked to Dan Riehl’s excellent post raising questions and doubts (his initial post here) about the alleged missile targeting by Israel of the Red Cross ambulances. Infinitives Unsplit first called attention to the dubious ambulance claims on July 27.
Now, Internet documentarian and photojournalist Zombie has compiled a damning, in-depth report on the ambulance claims that the MSM swallowed whole: “The Red Cross Ambulance Incident: How the Media Legitimized an Anti-Israel Hoax and Changed the Course of a War.” The intro:
On the night of July 23, 2006, an Israeli aircraft intentionally fired missiles at and struck two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances performing rescue operations, causing huge explosions that injured everyone inside the vehicles. Or so says the global media, including Time magazine, the BBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and thousands of other outlets around the world. If true, the incident would have been an egregious and indefensible violation of the Geneva Convention, and would constitute a war crime committed by the state of Israel.
But there’s one problem: It never happened.
You must read the entire report. If there were Pulitzers for Internet posts, this one would win hands down. (My other winner: EU Referendum’s multi-part series on Qana and the corruption of the media.) Zombie’s investigation methodically and devastatingly debunks the following claims:
Claim #1: An Israeli missile pierced the exact center of the red cross on the roof of the ambulance in the first photo above.
Claim #2: The attack happened on July 23.
Claim #3: There was a huge explosion inside the ambulance depicted in the third photo above.
Claim #4: There was an intense fire inside that same ambulance.
Claim #5: A man lying on a gurney inside the ambulance had his leg sheared off by the missile.
Claim #6: You’re analyzing the wrong ambulance, you idiot.
Claim #7: The ambulance driver who reported the incident was injured in the attack.
Claim #8: The Lebanese ambulance drivers are politically neutral and would have no motivation to lie.
After exhausting all other possible refutations and theories, after examining the rusted ambulance roof, ventilation covers on other ambulances in the exact location of the alleged missile damage, and photos of true missile damage to vehicles compared to the ambulances depicted above, Zombie offers the most plausible explanation of what really happened:
Two ambulances that had been somehow damaged long before the July Israel-Hezbollah conflict even began were dragged out of a salvage yard, where they had been rusting for months or years. They were taken to a parking lot and smashed up even more, inside and out. Then fresh gurneys were placed inside one of them. An intentionally amateurish video was then taken of the two vehicles, in order to show the damage. That night, as planned, some Red Cross workers feigning minor injuries rushed into a hospital in Tyre, and recounted a tale of horror: their ambulances had been attacked by Israeli missiles. The media was notified.
The next day, reporters from around the world interviewed the ambulance drivers as they lay in the hospital sporting prop bandages. The one driver who spoke the best English was quoted the most in the English-speaking press. The journalists, however, were not allowed to inspect the ambulances themselves; instead, the pre-packaged video was supplied to them, freezeframes from which were used as illustrations to accompany the articles. Three patients in the same hospital were identified as also being victims of the attack, even though their injuries had actually happened elsewhere. Every single Western reporter accepted the ambulance drivers’ story without question. Emboldened by the media’s credulity, the drivers exaggerated the severity of the incident with each new interview, until it no longer even vaguely matched the staged evidence. The story was broadcast to the world, and accepted as fact.
A few days later, after the Western press has wandered away to find other stories, the damaged ambulances were towed and parked in front of the Red Cross office in Tyre, as a martyrdom exhibit for the sympathetic local press and residents. Few if any mainstream journalists ever attempted to verify any of the claims made by the ambulance crews, despite the seriousness of the charge.
When bloggers called out Reuters for its fauxtographic doctoring, Reuters responded. As I noted after that episode, the Reuterization of war news goes far beyond Reuters. The ball is now in the court of the Red Cross and the following media outlets who spread the targeted ambulance stories to answer the charges raised by Zombie and other bloggers:
ITV News (see video here)
The MSM may be lolling during the dog days of August, but the march of the Internet Army of Debunkers spurred by Little Green Footballs continues apace. Rusty Shackleford and crew provide the perfect accompanying music video (today’s Hot Air top pick): All your fakes are belong to us. Score:
“We’d come to get a look at the damage and had hoped to talk with a Hezbollah representative. Instead, we found ourselves with other foreign reporters taken on a guided tour by Hezbollah. Young men on motor scooters followed our every movement. They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings. Once, when they thought we’d videotaped them, they asked us to erase the tape. These men are called al-Shabab, Hezbollah volunteers who are the organization’s eyes and ears.”
Gesturing to racks of music CDs in a building that had lost at least one of its walls, Cooper remarked, “You see their CDs on the wall still.”
He continued: “Hezbollah representatives are with us now but don’t want to be photographed. They’ll point to something like that and they’ll say, ‘Well, look, this is a store.’ The civilians lived in this building. This is a residential complex.
“And while that may be true, what the Israelis will say is that Hezbollah has their offices, their leadership has offices and bunkers even in residential neighborhoods. And if you’re trying to knock out the Hezbollah leadership with air strikes, it’s very difficult to do that without killing civilians.
“As bad as this damage is, it certainly could have been much worse in terms of civilian casualties. Before they started heavily bombing this area, Israeli warplanes did drop leaflets in this area, telling people to get out. The civilian death toll, though, has angered many Lebanese. Even those who do not support Hezbollah are outraged by the pictures they’ve seen on television of civilian casualties.”
As the video showed a group reporters and photographers interviewing a single woman on a blanket, Cooper explained, “Civilian casualties are clearly what Hezbollah wants foreign reporters to focus on. It keeps the attention off them — and questions about why Hezbollah should still be allowed to have weapons when all the other militias in Lebanon have already disarmed.
“After letting us take pictures of a few damaged buildings, they take us to another location, where there are ambulances waiting.
“This is a heavily orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up. We were allowed a few minutes to talk to the ambulance drivers. Then one by one, they’ve been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians. That’s the story that Hezbollah wants people to know about.
“These ambulances aren’t responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect.”
And this from August 8 via NRO:
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, you have to be very careful. Obviously, both sides in this conflict want their stories out. Israel, you know, provides public spokespeople very readily. If you’re dealing with the Israeli military, they don’t want you, you know, wandering around their artillery fields like where we are now, or wandering around their positions. So they often have press people who will actually sort of help you if you need interviews and the like.
While on the Hezbollah side, it’s really interesting — I was in Beirut, and they took me on this sort of guided tour of the Hezbollah- controlled territories in southern Lebanon that were heavily bombed. They are much cruder, obviously. They don’t have the experience in this kind of thing. But they clearly want the story of civilian casualties out. That is their — what they’re heavily pushing, to the point where on this tour I was on, they were just making stuff up. They had six ambulances lined up in a row and said, OK, you know, they brought reporters there, they said you can talk to the ambulance drives. And then one by one, they told the ambulances to turn on their sirens and to zoom off, and people taking that picture would be reporting, I guess, the idea that these ambulances were zooming off to treat civilian casualties, when in fact, these ambulances were literally going back and forth down the street just for people to take pictures of them.
Like Glenn Reynolds says: Don’t trust if they won’t verify.
Here’s the note I sent to the news organizations that covered the Red Cross ambulance incident:
Bloggers have raised questions about your news organization’s coverage of an incident allegedly involving Israeli targeting of Red Cross ambulances last month. What is your response to the investigation of the photos and news coverage posted here:
Thank you in advance for your reply.
newsdesk-at-theage.com.au and feedback-at-theage.com.au
The NYTimes. Contact the ombudsman at public-at-nytimes.com. Phone: (212) 556-7652. Address: Public Editor. The New York Times. 229 West 43rd St. New York, NY 10036-3959.