Roger L. Simon

Is the Associated Press a Fifth Column?

I know that’s an extreme statement, but that’s the only way I could react when I read Jack Stokes’, the AP’s “director of media relations,” explanation of his news agency’s behavior with regard to the photographing of the brutal murder of electoral workers in Baghdad the other day. Mr. Stokes tells us:

Insurgents want their stories told as much as other people and some are willing to let Iraqi photographers take their pictures. It’s important to note, though, that the photographers are not “embedded” with the insurgents. They do not have to swear allegiance or otherwise join up philosophically with them just to take their pictures.

What Stokes seems to be saying in his gnomic fashion is that because the “Insurgents” seek to have their stories told, the Associated Press is obligated to do so. It sounds as if the “Insurgents” were calling a press conference to express their campaign positions. But they weren’t. What they were doing was brutally murdering innocent people in the street and they wanted the press there to record the event. The Associated Press, like good poodles of fascism, came along for that most necessary of tasks for terrorists in asymetrical war–publicity.

Stokes has the temerity to describe this as the “Insurgents” being “willing to let Iraqi photographers take their pictures.” But we all know this is shameful lie because the AP itself has acknowledged the “Insurgents” called the AP photographer to invite him to a “demonstration.” Of course these photographers “do not have to” swear allegiance to the “Insurgents” (Stokes’ words here. He should do a better job.) He also assures us they are not “embedded” with the fascists. I agree with Hindrocket on that one. In the Post-Rather world, I reserve judgment. It is now incumbent on the media to prove their honesty. We can no longer take them at their word–and all we have now is the “word” of a “director of media relations.” (How insulting, when you think about it? Where are the editors in charge of Iraq?)

Unless and until, the AP makes a full disclosure of their methods in this case, including the identities of their photographers, I will continue to regard their behavior as, in Orwell’s words, “objectively pro-fascist.” (I guess that’s what Glenn Reynolds means by being “on the other side.”)

UPDATE: Unlike the AP, Cliff May gets it:

The enemy in Iraq is brutal, ruthless and, yes, evil. There’s no other word for people who murder civilians organizing elections, bomb churches and mosques, and saw the heads off innocents while screaming slogans and making home videos.

But they are not stupid. They know that every time they stage a massacre, millions of people get angry – not at them, but at Don Rumsfeld and President Bush and Prime Minister Blair and the “neo-cons.”

The interesting thing is the “Insurgents” depend on the AP et al to frame this fight in terms favorable to them. So far they have been quite successful. But if the media started to focus on the extreme brutality and actual policies (sadistic misogyny, totalitarianism, etc.) of the “Insurgents” instead of on the mistakes of the United States, than the entire playing field would shift. But I’m not holding my breath. The rest of us have to continue to build our own media and expand on them.