Iraqi prison abuse photos have been shown repeatedly by the U.S. and foreign media. But two papers?one here and one in Britain?have now been caught running fake photos. This is what can happen when the sharks in the media get carried away with a scandal and end up biting themselves.
In Britain, the Daily Mirror of London ran shocking photos, one of which purported to be of a British soldier urinating on an Iraqi prisoner wearing a hood over his head. The other was of another prisoner being hit in the groin by a rifle butt. It paid $40,000 for the photos, and claimed to have gotten them from British troops.
The paper wanted to believe the worst. It opposed the Iraq war and became known as the paper that hired Peter “Baghdad Pete” Arnett after he was fired by MSNBC for doing propaganda for Saddam Hussein during the war. For days they stood by the authenticity of the photos, despite serious questions being raised. First, the truck seen in the photo had never been in Iraq. Second, the rifle in the photo was a type not used in Iraq. On May 14th, the Mirror admitted that the photos were fake, and it fired their editor, Peirs Morgan, who had continued to insist on the authenticity of the photos. The Mirror said that it had been the victim of a “calculated and malicious hoax.”
The Boston Globe suffered a similar embarrassment, but actually handled it much worse. The Globe, which is owned by the New York Times, published images of photos passed out at a press conference by Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, that were said to show American soldiers raping Iraqi women. Someone at the conference with Turner said they had received the photos from a representative of the Nation of Islam. Turner said, “The American people have a right and responsibility to see the pictures.”
The Globe obviously did no investigation to see if the rape photos were legitimate. A simple Internet search would have turned up an article that ran on WorldNetDaily.com identifying the photos as having come from a pornographic website and that they were being used by Arab propagandists. They showed porn actors, depicted as American soldiers, raping “Iraqi women.” Sherrie Gossett wrote an article for WorldNetDaily blowing the whistle on the Globe and describing how she alerted the paper to the fraud. Initially, the Globe tried to get WorldNetDaily to retract its story. The Globe also tried to deny that it had been informed of the hoax. But WorldNetDaily had the email records to show that was false.
The Globe first published an editor’s note, which stated that the photo had failed to meet the Globe’s standards and had not been authenticated. Finally, the editor, Martin Baron, said that the photo “should not have appeared in the Globe,” and he apologized for what he called a “lapse in judgment.” He never explicitly acknowledged that the photo was a hoax and that the paper had been taken in. What a contrast: The Daily Mirror came clean and fired its editor. The Globe refused to face up to what it had done in a straightforward manner, and no one was fired. The Globe’s disgrace will affect its parent, the New York Times Company, and all of the liberal media.