Saturday, December 03, 2005

American Media Bamboozled by Hoax Terrorist Story

Maybe you remember hearing the story of a major "insurgent attack" on an American base in Ramadi, Iraq, three days ago. I do. I heard it on the hourly radio news report while driving in my car.

The American military quickly issued a mystified response saying, in effect, that they were not aware of any terrorist offensive in Ramadi. All they were aware of was one RPG shot at an observation post with no injuries or damage.

On television and on-line news, the story was often accompanied by

"(a)n AP Television News video (that) showed the insurgents walking down a shuttered market street and a residential neighborhood, as well as firing four mortar rounds. The masked men, however, looked relaxed and did not engage in any battles, and no U.S. bases or government buildings were shown.

Residents said that within minutes, scores of masked gunmen, believed to be members of Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq group, ran into the city's streets but dispersed after launching attacks with mortars . . .
(the quote is from ABC News on-line).
Rantingprofs, lgf and ThreatsWatch all have laid out the evidence that the story probably originated as a fabrication of the terrorists themselves, passed through various news outlets (AP, Reuters, etc.) via local news stringers.

The media, not wanting to be scooped took the bait and spread it around the world, making sure that the video (which many news agencies claimed as their own), which had been taped in mid-November, went along with it for visual effect.

The whole story, apparently was a hoax, perpetuated by terrorists in Iraq, designed to erode American support for the war.

Big Lizards summarizes what at least one news media outlet refered to as a "minor Tet offensive" in these words,

To show they are still in charge, terrorists have left some litter and graffiti on a street in the Anbar capital of Ramadi.

After an unsuccessful attack on the U.S. base, in which only one granade was fired with no casualty in our part, "the insurgents [sic] left behind posters and graffiti saying they were members of al-Qaida in Iraq and claiming responsibility for shooting down a U.S. drone. There were no reports of any U.S. drones being shot down, though." (The so-called "insurgency" actually isn't, however; Reuters is simply illiterate).
I have read where the daily U.S. Military news releases and information briefings are extremely reliable and accurate.

Reporters in Baghdad, however, prefer to get their news information from the "folks in the streets." This is often how they seem to arrive at the scene of terrorist attacks almost before the bombs go off or the victims are killed. Plus, if the are unable to take good video of a terrorist attack themselves, the terrorists are more than willing to supply them with one they took themselves. (If you don't believe me, see here for an example).

This is also, however, how they are so easily duped and get the story wrong so often. With folks like al-Qaeda providing the news they report what else should we expect.

For the full effect of this hoax and the sense of defeatism it successfully spread across the American public just watch how CBS affiliate KTVU reported on it on Thursday....complete with the video.