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See the World Through My Daughter's Eyes (Rodale, October 2003),
Friday, May 14, 2004
CONFUSION AND INCOMPETENCE.
Boston Globe ombudsman Christine Chinlund gets a B-minus today
for her assessment
of what went wrong with those hardcore porn pictures that made their
way into the Globe on Wednesday. The photos were promoted by
Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and local activist Sadiki Kambon
as possibly depicting US soldiers raping Iraqi women.
Chinlund is utterly believable in
describing the comedy of errors that led to a photo's being published
in which the porn pictures were visible. In newsrooms, as in life,
whenever a mistake can be explained in terms of confusion and
incompetence rather than malicious intent, go with confusion and
It remains inexplicable how or why
Globe editors, once they realized they had a problem, decided
merely to shrink the photo rather than pull it altogether. Yes,
shrinking did make the porn more difficult to see, but come on folks.
Get it out of there. Chinlund writes:
First edition carried the
Page B2 photo three columns wide - big enough to make out the
roughly 1-inch square sexual images within it. In later editions
it was made smaller at the request of Michael Larkin, a deputy
managing editor, who said that although he could not discern the
sexual images on the page proof he viewed, he wanted to play it
safe, given the story's content.
Play it safe? Playing with fire is
more like it.
Where Chinlund falls short is in
her narrowly stubborn insistence that because she couldn't find the
porn photos on the Internet, she can't verify that Turner and Kambon
were indeed passing off porn shots as evidence of American
Various sources last week
said the photos displayed by Turner came from a pornography
website, and they may well have, although I could not trace it to
the source. I did find one news website with a note from a woman
identified as the porn site operator. She was quoted as saying the
images, shot in Hungary, had been removed because they were used
for anti-American purposes.
This morning I did my regular
Friday-morning stint on The Pat Whitley Show, on WRKO Radio
(AM 680). Whitley and his producer, Amy Hirshberg, told me that on
Wednesday, when they were first alerted to the Globe's miscue,
they were able to find the photos on a porn site within minutes.
Since then, they said, the site has been taken down.
Chinlund also fails to acknowledge
that Sherrie Gossett has done some very credible reporting on
origin of these photos for
WorldNetDaily.com. In fact, a Globe editorial
today blasting Turner for his "reckless and inflammatory" actions is
better on this score, forthrightly stating, "Turner's photos appear
to match ones found on a pornographic website."
In the Boston Herald,
columnist Cosmo Macero today criticizes
(sub. req.) the Globe for reporting on Turner and Kambon's
news conference, noting that other journalists who attended the
conference decided it wasn't worthy of public attention. Macero
observes that the article
written by the Globe reporter who covered the news conference,
Donovan Slack, was "loaded ... with expressed doubts about the
The Globe certainly could
have chosen not to run the story. Maybe that would have been a better
decision than the one its editors made. But Slack's story wasn't the
problem. Metro editor Carolyn Ryan told Chinlund, "Our intent ... was
to bring some scrutiny to allegations" that Turner had made,
"specifically his claims that he had evidence of extensive abuse
committed by US soldiers." Slack's story succeeded in doing that.
Unfortunately, as Chinlund notes,
the photo not only became the story, but it also cast Slack's report
in a "less skeptical" light.
By the way, the Wall Street
of the Web" site leads with
the Globe controversy, and relies heavily on Media Log's
running coverage. So please check it out.
And barring any further
developments, that's a wrap.
posted at 11:19 AM |
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Thursday, May 13, 2004
THE FALLOUT CONTINUES.
Former Marine major Cecil Turner writes:
If anything, you're being too
kind to Turner, Kambon, and the Globe.
More than a week ago, someone
tried to peddle
those pictures on Roger
L. Simon's blog, and it was immediately debunked. A casual glance
at the photos shows out-of-date and mismatched uniforms,
improperly worn, wrong color t-shirt and boots, and lack of unit
patches. Even without knowing about the porn site, there is no way
this should have stood for a minute.
Turner's "just wanted to get
verification" story is nonsense - and certainly wouldn't require a
press conference. The technique of proffering a slanderous
statement and hoping something will stick was old when practiced
by Roman senators, and the Globe should never have fallen for it.
The real story here is that Nation of Islam is spreading Islamist
propaganda - and it certainly appears to be
Major, USMC (Retired)
Also, in my quick
update this morning, I
neglected to note that the Globe failed to include some pretty
vital information in its "Editor's
Note" today - or, for that
matter, anywhere else in the paper: the fact that these photos had
been exposed as fakes quite a bit before Boston City Councilor Chuck
Turner and local activist Sadiki Kambon unveiled them at a news
conference on Tuesday.
Yes, reporter Donovan Slack's
was properly skeptical, but if either she or her editors had known
that the photos had already been identified
as having come from commercial porn sites, this never would have seen
the light of day. Those who hadn't been following the tale of the
fake rape photos on the Internet would have had to buy today's
Herald to find
out the whole
Chuck Turner popped up on The
Pat Whitley Show on WRKO Radio (AM 680) this morning and
continued to peddle the line that he never wanted the media to
publish the photos, just verify their authenticity. He called the
Globe's decision to publish the photos a "serious mistake,"
and said he was "shocked and surprised." (Time out: the Globe
didn't "publish" the photos; it published a photo of Turner and
Kambon showing the pictures to the media. I still think that's an
important distinction, because in the edition I saw yesterday, the
images were so tiny that I really couldn't make them out. Still,
there's no question that the Globe ran it big
enough to shock in earlier
What crapola. You don't call a news
conference to release photos that you don't want published. You don't
say - as the Globe quoted Turner as saying - "The American
people have a right and responsibility to see the
Here is the text of a press release
sent out on Monday by Kambon's organization, the Black Community
Release of US Military
rape photographs in Iraq!!!
The Black Community Information
Center Inc. will hold a press conference on Tuesday, May 11th,
2004, 9:30 a.m. The purpose of the press conference is to release
copies of dramatic photos of members of the US Military, gang
raping innocent Iraqi women in Iraq.
The press conference will be
held in the Curley Room at Boston City Hall (5th Floor) in
downtown Boston, Massachusetts.
For more information, call
[phone numbers deleted].
Director, BCIC Inc.
Now, it's true that at the news
conference Turner asked the media to use their contacts to
authenticate the photos. But the tone of this press release admits to
no doubt whatsoever, does it?
posted at 11:12 AM |
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NEW IN THIS WEEK'S
PHOENIX. Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England - the damsel in
distress and the castrating bitch - symbolize
our shifting perceptions of the war in Iraq.
posted at 7:40 AM |
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THEY KNEW. BUT THEY PRINTED IT
ANYWAY. That's the only interpretation I can put on an
Note" in today's Boston
Globe apologizing for the publication
of a photo showing pornographic depictions of rape. Here's the
A photograph on Page B2
yesterday did not meet Globe standards for publication. The photo
portrayed Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and activist Sadiki
Kambon displaying graphic photographs that they claimed showed US
soldiers raping Iraqi women. Although the photograph was
reduced in size between editions to obscure visibility of the
images on display, at no time did the photograph meet Globe
standards. Images contained in the photograph were overly graphic,
and the purported abuse portrayed had not been authenticated. The
Globe apologizes for publishing the photo.
In other words, at some point
editors realized the pictures that Turner and Kambon were showing off
were too graphic to be published - but rather than remove the photo
altogether, they simply shrunk it down and hoped no one would
This isn't good. For crying out
loud, this is a paper that killed
Doonesbury a couple
of weeks ago because B.D. shouted out "son of a bitch!" after he
learned that his leg had been blown off. What are these people
I do believe it's ombudsman
Christine Chinlund's week to write this coming Monday.
Meanwhile, the Boston Herald
is having fun with this today. Inevitably, the tabloid
that the Globe is "reeling" from the mistake (how does
one reel?), and points out that the photos obtained by Kambon had
already been exposed by the website WorldNetDaily.com
as porn shots being passed off as evidence of American atrocities.
The Herald quotes a statement from Globe editor Martin
"This photo should not
have appeared in the Globe," editor Martin Baron said in a
statement. "First, images portrayed in the photo were overly
graphic. Second, as the story clearly pointed out, those images
were never authenticated as photos of prisoner abuse. There was a
lapse in judgment and procedures, and we apologize for it."
The story also recycles some of
Globe reporter Donovan Slack's very candid quotes to
An unusually long Herald
headlined "Prouder Than Ever to Be an American," includes this swipe:
"It's a nation where that daughter puts herself in harm's way to
protect the freedom of the press which allows Boston Globe editors to
run bogus photographs of American soldiers raping Iraqi
Not a proud moment for the folks on
posted at 7:38 AM |
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004
MORE ON THOSE FAKE RAPE
is going to be a bigger story than I thought. (Hardly the first time
that's happened!) Matt Drudge has posted
an image from an earlier edition of today's Boston Globe in
which the photo of the fake pictures of American soldiers raping
Iraqi women was run bigger - big enough so that their graphic nature
is more evident, even to my aging eyes - and in which the headline
ended with "Photos Purported to Show Abuse," a rather different spin
from "Councilor Takes Up Iraq Issue."
Boston Herald columnist
Howie Carr was going nuts on his WRKO (AM 680) talk show this
afternoon, repeatedly accusing the Globe of "libeling"
American soldiers. Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner called in and
declined Carr's invitation to apologize. I wasn't rolling tape, but
essentially Turner said that he didn't want the press to publish the
photos, he simply wanted news organizations to attempt to verify
Of course, that completely
contradicts this Turner quote in the Globe story: "The
American people have a right and responsibility to see the pictures."
But never mind.
Word is that the Herald's
"Inside Track" is going after the Globe tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow is also Mike Barnicle's turn to write. Will he resist the
urge to pile on his former employer?
Now, huffing and puffing aside, I
still think the two most important facts are these:
1. Donovan Slack's story is
completely legitimate, making it clear that there was no way of
authenticating the photos that Turner and community activist Sadiki
Kambon showed the media, and even raising the possibility that it was
all an Internet fraud - as it indeed turned out to be. You could
argue that the Globe shouldn't have run the story, but a
newspaper does not have to defend covering a City Hall news
conference called by a well-known elected official. The issue is
how the Globe covered it, and in that regard, there is
no issue. Carr himself admitted as much on the air today.
2. Which brings us to the George
Rizer photo of Turner and Kambon showing those fake images to the
media. I'll wait to see what the Globe says tomorrow, but I'm
willing to bet that no one even looked at those tiny images - that
the subjects of the photo were Turner and Kambon, and that that's as
far as anyone thought things through. Obviously the Globe blew
it, but there's no way anyone in that newsroom deliberately ran
photos of a gang rape.
posted at 8:27 PM |
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MORE FOOLISHNESS FROM TURNER AND
KAMBON. An alert reader urged me to check out Margery Eagan's
April 8 column in the Boston Herald. The subject:
national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice. The speakers: City
Councilor Chuck Turner and local activist Sadiki Kambon.
Turner was quoted as saying that
Rice isn't concerned "about the plight of the majority" of
African-Americans. Okay, she's a foreign-policy wonk, not a
domestic-policy analyst. But then Turner added that Rice is a "tool
to white leaders.... It's similar in my mind to a Jewish person
working for Hitler in the 1930s." Say what?
Kambon, naturally, was even more
outrageous, calling her "Condoleezza White Rice" and "The Negro
posted at 3:34 PM |
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CHUCK TURNER, IRAQI RAPE
ALLEGATIONS, AND THE GLOBE. The right-wing website
is having a wicked good time over an apparent fraud perpetrated on
(by?) Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and African-American
activist Sadiki Kambon, and reported
in today's Boston Globe.
At a City Hall news conference
yesterday morning, Turner and Kambon showed photos that they claimed
depicted American soldiers raping Iraqi women. "The American people
have a right and responsibility to see the pictures," Turner was
quoted as saying.
Today, Sherrie Gossett
in WorldNetDaily.com that the photos are identical to pictures "taken
from pornographic websites and disseminated by anti-American
propagandists," a story that she's been reporting
on in recent days.
Gossett also writes that today's
Globe "came complete with graphic photos" of the alleged gang
rape. But that's not quite right. The Globe story, by Donovan
Slack, is accompanied by a photo by George Rizer of Turner and Kambon
displaying four of the pictures for the benefit of journalists who'd
come to the news conference. The pictures look like they might be
graphic, but it's hard to tell given the size and the angle. Still,
I'm sure Globe editors wish they hadn't run Rizer's
Gossett includes some extremely
entertaining quotes from Slack:
Asked whether the photos
were the same as the porn photos WND already investigated,
reporter Donovan Slack said, "I have no idea. I'm surprised the
editor even decided we should write about it."
She added: "Oh my God, I'm
scared to answer the phone today."
"It's insane," said Slack. "Can
you imagine getting this with your cup of coffee in the morning?
Somehow it got through all our checks. Our publisher's not having
a very good day today."
Slack sent the photos to WND,
which immediately confirmed they were the same porn photos
reported on last week.
Slack quipped, "I'll be working
at Penthouse soon."
The photos aside, Slack's story
sounds all the right notes of skepticism. She quotes a spokesman for
the Defense Department as saying, "I would caution that there are
many fake photos circulating on the Internet." She also notes that
the Nation of Islam, which purportedly supplied the photos to Kambon,
would not verify their authenticity. Turner told reporters, "We
cannot document their authenticity. But you have the ability to do
Nor did the Globe give this
story a lot of play. It's a short piece on page B2, beneath the bland
headline "Councilor Takes Up Iraq Issue." The subhead, "Turner
Releases Purported Images of Rape by Soldiers," reinforces the notion
that the story is about a city councilor speaking out more than it is
about the subject of his outrage.
Now, I'm sure the Globe will
be publishing some sort of statement, maybe as early as tomorrow. But
the person who really has something to answer for is Chuck Turner.
Kambon is Kambon. No one would take seriously the notion that photos
of Iraqis being abused by American soldiers would somehow fall into
But Turner is a prominent elected
official who lent both his good name and the imprimatur of City Hall
to this fiasco. Without Turner, this story never would have been
posted at 2:54 PM |
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THE TERRIBLE DEATH OF NICHOLAS
BERG. Okay, I've seen the video. Good Lord, what a horrible,
Nicholas Berg suffered at the hands of terrorists in Iraq. A website
I'd been directed to couldn't make the connection, but it took me no
more than a few minutes to locate and download a copy with LimeWire.
Such is the modern media environment. I have nothing profound to say
about this horrific act. A few random observations:
- Berg's family
is probably right that their son was singled out for execution
because he's Jewish. An odd wrinkle, though, is that his killers
apparently said nothing about Berg's being a Jew on the
five-minute-plus videotape. By contrast, when Wall Street
Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was beheaded by terrorists, their propaganda video dwelled at length on Pearl's
- When CBS News aired the
non-gruesome parts of the Pearl video two years ago, it was widely
criticized. When the Phoenix posted
a link to the entire video,
and published two small images, including Pearl's severed head, in
its print edition, it set off a nationwide controversy. By contrast,
the pre-execution portions of the Berg video have already been widely
aired. At least one rather mainstream website, based in Arizona, has
already posted the entire video. And pro-war radio talk-show hosts
this morning are demanding that the major networks air the video,
under the guise of reminding Americans of why we're fighting. Why the
difference? I've always believed the media showed unusual deference
to Pearl's family - far more than they would under most circumstances
- because Pearl was a fellow journalist. More important, sadly, is
that we've all become increasingly desensitized after nearly three
years of constant war.
- Unlike the Pearl video, which was
a pretty unambiguous portrayal of Islamist terrorism, the meaning of
the Berg video depends entirely on one's preconceived notions about
the war in Iraq. Supporters of the war will argue that it shows why
we must keep on fighting. Opponents will counter that it's further
proof we shouldn't be in Iraq in the first place. As for those who
say - as the terrorists themselves claimed - that it was in direct
response to the abuses and torture at Abu Ghraib, I'm with CNN's
Aaron Brown, who said
last night, "The fact is these guys never need a reason to kill
Americans, hostages or otherwise. If it is in their interest, and it
is sick to think that killing an American in Iraq is in anyone's
interest, but if it is they would have done it anyway. Danny Pearl
was murdered and what exactly was the reason for that?"
posted at 11:04 AM |
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004
THE ROYAL "WE." David Brooks
is no more responsible for the quagmire in Iraq than Andrew Sullivan
is. Still, it's interesting to see how the New York Times
columnist takes (that is, doesn't take) responsibility for his
failure to think things through as opposed to the blogger/essayist's
squarely wrestling with his conscience.
which I flagged yesterday, were filled with the first person
singular. By contrast, here is an emblematic passage from Brooks's
We were so sure we were
using our might for noble purposes, we assumed that sooner or
later, everybody else would see that as well. Far from being
blinded by greed, we were blinded by idealism.
We didn't understand the tragic
irony that our power is also our weakness. As long as we seemed so
mighty, others, even those we were aiming to assist, were bound to
As Tonto explained to the Lone
Ranger, "Who's 'we,' Kemosabe?"
DRIVING US AWAY. You could
look it up (I don't feel like it), but Media Log has predicted on at
least several occasions that this July's Democratic National
Convention will be a five-alarm disaster for anyone who lives in,
works in, or even thinks about Boston.
Yet now that Anthony Flint is
in today's Boston Globe that operations to shut down I-93 each
day will begin as early as 4 p.m., I'm ready to make a
counterintuitive prediction. I now think everyone has been so
thoroughly freaked out by months of apocalyptic scenarios (can I take
just a little bit of credit?) that everyone is going to take the week
off and the locals are going to barricade themselves inside their
Media Log's newest prediction: this
is going to be the easiest week for driving around the city since
just after the invention of the automobile.
posted at 7:30 AM |
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Monday, May 10, 2004
MIND YOU, HE SAYS HE STILL WOULD
HAVE SUPPORTED THE WAR. Andrew Sullivan writes:
The one anti-war argument
that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple
one. It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this
administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it
out effectively. I dismissed this as facile Bush-bashing at the
time. I was wrong. I sensed the hubris of this administration
after the fall of Baghdad, but I didn't sense how they would
grotesquely under-man the post-war occupation, bungle the
maintenance of security, short-change an absolutely vital mission,
dismiss constructive criticism, ignore even their allies (like the
Brits), and fail to shift swiftly enough when events span out of
No chortling here. This is a
monumental tragedy. I opposed the war from the beginning, but always
thought that the reasons to go to war were good ones - not WMDs
(remember, the UN weapons inspectors were just starting to gear up)
and the non-existent ties to Al Qaeda, but the ongoing humanitarian
catastrophe caused by Saddam Hussein's Hitlerian regime, compounded
by more than a decade of Western sanctions.
If Bush had only taken the time and
shown the patience to build a genuine international coalition, things
might look very different today.
posted at 10:07 AM |
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GOOD RUMMY, BAD RUMMY. From
William Safire's New York Times column
Shortly after 9/11, with
the nation gripped by fear and fury, the Bush White House issued a
sweeping and popular order to crack down on suspected terrorists.
The liberal establishment largely fell cravenly mute. A few lonely
civil libertarians spoke out. When I used the word "dictatorial,"
conservatives, both neo- and paleo-, derided my condemnation as
One Bush cabinet member paid
attention. [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld
appointed a bipartisan panel of attorneys to re-examine that
draconian edict. As a result, basic protections for the accused
Qaeda combatants were included in the proposed military
Perhaps because of those
protections, the tribunals never got off the ground. (The Supreme
Court will soon, I hope, provide similar legal rights to suspected
terrorists who are U.S. citizens.) But in the panic of the winter
of 2001, Rumsfeld was one of the few in power concerned about
prisoners' rights. Some now demanding his scalp then supported
the repressive Patriot Act.
From Seymour Hersh's
in this week's New Yorker:
The Pentagon's impatience
with military protocol extended to questions about the treatment
of prisoners caught in the course of its military operations. Soon
after 9/11, as the war on terror got under way, Donald Rumsfeld
repeatedly made public his disdain for the Geneva conventions.
Complaints about America's treatment of prisoners, Rumsfeld said
in early 2002, amounted to "isolated pockets of international
Safire is a serious civil
libertarian who doesn't mind whacking his fellow conservatives, so
his observations about the Good Rummy can't be dismissed lightly. But
it's pretty obvious that Rumsfeld's occasional good deeds have been
overwhelmed by his disdain for anyone and anything that interfered
with his ability to do what he damn well pleased.
CREDENTIALS? THEY DON'T NEED NO
STINKING CREDENTIALS! Joanna Weiss reports
in today's Boston Globe on the Democratic National Committee's
plan to issue press credentials to some bloggers. There's a numbers
game going on, and apparently not everyone who wants credentials will
This isn't going to matter to
establishment types. For instance, Weiss mentions Josh Marshall, who
Points Memo; but Marshall's
got nothing to be concerned about, since he also writes a
for the Hill, a print publication. (Media Log plans to be at
the convention as well, blogging and also reporting for the print
edition of the Phoenix.)
Bloggers have just as much of a
right to be there as anyone else. Particularly out of it is Jerry
Gallegos, head of the House Press Gallery, who told Weiss, "Anyone
with a computer and home publishing can call themselves whatever they
want. If it's a retired couple that just decides they've got an
opinion, that doesn't make them a news organization. It just makes
them a retired couple with an opinion and a website." Yeah, but
Grandma and Grandpa might just be kicking the ass of the hometown
daily to which Gallegos would issue credentials without a
Still, there's some serious
naïveté on the part of bloggers if they think credentials
are going to do much for them. There are lots of great stories at
conventions, but very few of them take place inside the convention
hall. Even fully credentialed mainstream journalists are only rarely
able to gain access to the floor - not that there's any great thrill
in that other than to be able to say you were there. Mainly you
wander the building checking out the news-org set-ups and looking for
interesting people to talk to.
Outside is another story, and it
strikes me that that's where bloggers could do their most important
work: at the protests, at the parties, panels, and seminars, and at
the numerous events that will be staged by those trying to get their
message out. I'm not aware of anything being planned that's as cool
as the "shadow conventions" Arianna Huffington put together in
Philadelphia and Los Angeles four years ago, but certainly something
- no doubt many somethings - will pop up.
Here's a dirty little secret: even
credentialed reporters inside the hall watch the convention on
television. So bloggers ought not to worry about credentials and
bring their laptops to Boston. They'll have plenty to write about.
posted at 9:12 AM |
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.