The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Boston Globe Iraq abuse snaps from porn site

Let's face it: when you find a story dissing the Globe - and the only serious media source running it is the Boston Herald, you've got to wonder.

That said, the Herald piece today seems to have an admission (against interest, squared) from the editor of the Globe, Martin Baron, so I'm inclined to give it house room.

The beef: the Globe published
...graphic photos of alleged sexual abuse of Iraqi women by U.S. soldiers [which] turned out to be staged shots from a hardcore porn Web site.

And what of the provenance of these pics?
City Councilor Chuck Turner and perennial pot-stirrer Sadiki Kambon called a press conference in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to display more purported abuse photos. Turner claimed they came from ``a very legitimate person'' but admitted they hadn't been authenticated. Kambon said he got them from a representative of the Nation of Islam.

'Minister' Louis Farrakhan's own private collection?

The actual photo published, it seems, was
a picture of Turner and Kambon displaying the images. In a large shot in the paper's early editions, pornographic details are clearly visible. In later editions, the photograph was reduced, making the images slightly more obscure.

The Herald piece gleefully adds that
A number of news outlets - including the Herald and The Associated Press - attended the conference but did not run a story after determining the photos were highly suspicious.

Its credibility suffers something of a knock by the fact that it gives credence to a piece in WorldNetDaily, which extensively quotes Globe reportrix Donovan Slack. Slack was, it seems, amazed that the photos had been used. And is quoted as saying:
Our publisher's not having a very good day today.

The piece says three Globe editors passed the photo that was published.

(Slack was apparently a good deal less garrulous with the Herald!)

Now, we all make mistakes. But this was the top story nationwide; and the nature of the material in question from all sorts of angles screamed for careful handling. (Not to mention filing in the WPB.)

One has sympathy with editors dealing with stories from the likes of Jack Kelley, that look so right, and where corroboration is in some village 5,000 miles away.

But everyone knew there were fakes being used by the Arab media, and suspected that chancers were touting them round Western media in the hope of snaffling a few bucks, or some ballyhoo.

Will we get an independent investigation à la Siegenthaler? Answers on a postcard...


The blog over at the Boston Phoenix is also having fun: here, here, here and here.

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