Warbloggers refuse to admit their errors in making fraud allegations against AP

Media Matters
Jan. 07, 2007

Many right-wing warbloggers, who for six weeks have been accusing the Associated Press of manufacturing a police source in Baghdad in order to spread insurgent-friendly "propaganda," now steadfastly refuse to concede their mistakes in the wake the January 4 news that the police source in question, Jamil Hussein, does exist and has been identified by the Iraqi government.

Instead, warbloggers insist the confirmation of Hussein's existence -- the same Hussein who they claimed was "a fraud" -- only bolsters the questions they've been asking about the AP's reporting in Iraq.

The warbloggers' press conspiracy began over Thanksgiving weekend when an AP dispatch quoting Iraqi police Capt. Jamil Hussein reported that Shiite militiamen had "grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene." Warbloggers were skeptical of the chilling report, in part because no other news organizations could confirm the horrific event.

Once Iraqi government and U.S. military officials claimed they had no records of a police officer named Jamil Hussein, warbloggers, led by Michelle Malkin and supported by Instapundit, Powerline, Confederate Yankee, and numerous others, announced that Hussein was a phony source the AP had used in order to spread insurgent "propaganda." The search for Hussein became so all-consuming that Malkin announced this week that she was going to travel to Iraq in order to prove he did not exist.

Some triumphant warbloggers even demanded that AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll resign in the wake of the so-called scandal.

Warbloggers, who enthusiastically supported the invasion of Iraq, have tried to expand the Hussein controversy to suggest that if AP had used a "fake" source, then news consumers could not believe anything the AP reported about Iraq and its bloody disintegration. "Quite literally, almost all AP reporting from Iraq not verified from reporters of other news organizations is now suspect, and with good reason," wrote warblogger Bob Owens.

Added warblogger Curt at Flopping Aces, who '"broke," the Hussein story in November, "NO story we get out of Iraq can be trusted anymore until the news services admit their mistakes and quit using these biased sources."

But the bottom fell out Thursday afternoon, when the Iraqi government flip-flopped and suddenly confirmed Hussein's existence. In fact, he was under arrest for doing what warbloggers insisted Hussein could never do in the first place -- talk to reporters:
The Interior Ministry acknowledged Thursday that an Iraqi police officer whose existence had been denied by the Iraqis and the U.S. military is in fact an active member of the force, and said he now faces arrest for speaking to the media.

Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.

The captain, whose full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, was one of the sources for an AP story in late November about the burning and shooting of six people during a sectarian attack at a Sunni mosque.
The revelation, which completely undermines the campaign to establish Hussein as a phony (the entire controversy was built around the what-if that Hussein was not a real police officer), has failed to prompt many apologies from defiant warbloggers who insists they were right to malign the AP. (To his credit, Fox News' Brit Hume, who earlier played up the Hussein story, acknowledged that it appeared the AP had been vindicated.)

Warblogger Dan Riehl now claims, "I don't see that bloggers have anything to apologize for, nor do I see this story being at an end." In fact, some warbloggers announced they had been vindicated by the news. Confirmation that Hussein exists, "makes it better," wrote Curt at Flopping Aces, who just days ago wrote that Hussein was "fake."

Warbloggers aren't alone in having trouble articulating an apology. So is Eason Jordan. The former CNN news chief last month launched an all-Iraq news website called IraqSlogger and immediately began echoing the warbloggers' calls for the AP to produce Hussein. Just this week Jordan sharply criticized the global news organization and announced, "[T]he AP's handling of it call[s] into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world's biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press." Jordan concluded, "Therefore, in the absence of clear and compelling evidence to corroborate the AP's exclusive story and Captain Hussein's existence, we must conclude for now that the AP's reporting in this case was flawed."

On January 5, in the wake of the news about Hussein, Jordan chided critics who prematurely attacked the AP: "The AP's most strident critics were wrong to accept the word of U.S. and Iraqi officials as the absolute truth while dismissing the AP's sourcing, stories, and explanations as outright lies." Yet Jordan barely mentioned his own, premature critique of the AP.

Note that last month warblogger Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse, who ridiculed the AP for being unethical and untrustworthy because of the Hussein story (and who personally attacked me for raising doubts about the warbloggers' conspiracy theory), insisted that all warbloggers really wanted from the AP was "an acknowledgement of error." But now, when it turns out it was the warbloggers who were wrong all along about Hussein, an acknowledgement of error is too much for them, including Moran, to muster.


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