Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hezbollah "Fauxtography" Round-Up

Photos and news stories coming out of Lebanon are now under intense scrutiny, and for good reason. Hezbollah clearly has journalist allies.

As well as digital doctoring, there's staging. Photojournalist Bryan Denton comments to his peers:

i have been witness to the daily practice of directed shots, one case where a group of wire photogs were choreographing the unearthing of bodies, directing emergency workers here and there, asking them to position bodies just so, even remove bodies that have already been put in graves so that they can photograph them in peoples arms. these photographers have come away with powerful shots, that required no manipulation digitally, but instead, manipulation on a human level, and this itself is a bigger ethical problem.

And:

i have also heard from friends of mine in lebanon, respected photographers, that this was not an isolated incident.

David Kopel touches on a few important points:

At Qana at least, it appears that the media may have been complicit in the production of controlled, staged images using dead children as props, which were falsely presented to the public as authentic, spontaneous photos of a rescue operation.

[To those who] raised the argument "who cares about staging; all the matter is that the Israelis killed the children." That argument is wrong on two levels: first it is a gross violation of journalistic ethics to present a posed/staged photo as if it represented spontaneous activity; there is little doubt, at this point, that the media at Qana perpetrated this violation, and have been attempting to cover it up ever since. ...

We do know, as my article details, that the media were forbidden to examine or inspect the building where the children were allegedly killed; A.P. spokeswoman Linda Wagner, in response to a question from me, did not deny this fact, but instead sidestepped the question.

That's bad.

Bryan Preston: "It’s low-budget movie production, totalitarian style."

Caution: graphic images. From Preston's post, this video is a must-see. Further, the blog EU Referendum presents a case that seems more and more believable every day: Qana - the director's cut and Stretcher Alley.

Lost in the fraud is the human tragedy of these Hizbollah human shields.


Comments:

(Please keep in mind that each commenter's opinions are only his/her own.)



maybe they think strong pictures of dead bodies might send a message round the world that people are being killed by bombs..
 


Isn't the real scandal that our media doesn't show most of the real violence that happens as a result of war? This one guy added some smoke to a photo that already had smoke from an explosion. It was amaturish and should have been caught, but the big hairy deal that is being made out of it only illustrates the insecurity of the right.
 


MM: thanks for stopping by, and for challenging my thinking.

Many results of war are tragic, particularly Hezbollah's use of human shields. I've tried to call attention to that (e.g., in this very post, as well as here).

I agree that the faked photo was crude, and I'm glad you think it should have been caught. Staging photos--what this very post is about--is equally unethical. Do you realize the staging that went on? (You didn't mention it.) Do you understand what constitutes staging? You seem to be downplaying the ethical breach. Are you? Do you understand why it's wrong? Are such ethics important to you?

That manipulated images manipulate opinions (perhaps including yours) doesn't really bear on my "insecurity."

The discussion of faked and staged photos is a direct result of the photographers' actions. You have a right to be angry that such discussions distract from the human tragedy, but your anger is misdirected: it should be toward the photos' authors.

I believe both the human tragedy and the photo fraud are important topics.

Thanks for the Jonathan Cook link, too. Here's my take...

JC: The supposed scandal...

Supposed? I'm doubting his ethics or grip on reality already, and I'm only three words into it.

... to little or no effect, it should be noted...

How does he know that? He doesn't. If only such worthless presumption was his worst deed.

...a debate about whether we can trust the images of this war...

Exactly. I'm glad he gets that, at least.

... the images of the war we saw ... were constantly doctored, day in, day out.... Pictures were binned or cropped if they hinted at what suffering and death truly looked like.

Doctored? I saw lots of dead bodies--not just hints. Follow this post's links, for instance. I broke down and followed the link to CounterPunch, to see if he had some specific, compelling before-and-after example of a "binned" or "cropped" image. Nope.

...the row of charred corpses lying in the street...

Sounds like more staging, though I can't emphasize enough that their deaths at the hands of Hezbollah is truly tragic.

... or the agony of a son pressing a scrap of cloth to the severed arm of his mother as she bled to death

I can't emphasize enough the evil of Hezbollah using human shields.

Western audiences were not shown ... the crushed baby pulled from the rubble.

In fact, Western audiences were shown: they're at the heart of the discussion. A bald lie by Jonathan Cook. Does he often rely on his audience's ignorance like this? Do you, MM, share his audience's ignorance? Do you endorse his lie? (Why did you link to it?)
 


Not only do I not endorse his lies, I don't believe you've offered evidence of them. Show me a link to a U.S. mainstream media source that published the crushed baby. Just because the corpses were lined up does that mean it was staged? Couldn't they have been lined up for removal? It is indeed a "supposed scandal".

Combatants in war hide. That's the nature of war. We hide, they hide, and civilians are killed because if it. In fact, many more innocents are killed in war than soldiers all the time in every war. We know this, and yet we tragic human beings still insist on solving our problems and differences in this juvenile way. It's not so hard to see both sides of this, or most any, conflict if we look at things from a position of empathy. Everyone has children.
 


MM: Show me a link to a U.S. mainstream media source...

He said "Western." Reuters is Western. Be ashamed that you changed his words.

MM: "Combatants in war hide. That's the nature of war. We hide, they hide, and civilians are killed because if it."

Israeli troops don't hide behind civilians. Ponder your muddled morality, especially in light of Geneva Convention IV. (It's a little intimidating, but worth the read.)

MM: "It's not so hard to see both sides of this, or most any, conflict if we look at things from a position of empathy. Everyone has children."

I would think your empathy and concern for children would make you angry at Hezbollah's using them as human shields. Your empathy seems sorely lacking.
 


I'm not so much into shame, so I'll pass on that. Reuters ran the photo? I'm a daily reader of Reuters, and had never seen the photo until you pointed it out. Please include a link to the Reuters article that used the photo, because I can't seem to find it. It seems like we should establish at least that - before condemning Reuters.

Israeli troops go even a stop further than hiding behind civilians. They fire upon them needlessly, even when no enemy is present. THAT really can't be questioned at this point.

I'm pretty comfortable with my morality. I feel like I'm on pretty safe ground being against senseless killing and all. You, on the other hand, seem to be a real cheerleader for American imperialism. This attitude is getting innocent people killed. Cluster bombs on apartment buildings are not an honorable way to fight a war. If Israel is so "right" in this situation, perhaps they should send troops in and clear buildings street by street like real soldiers rather than dropping bombs from planes that kill innocents? Does it really take guts and honor to put a button from an airplane?
 


JB - I've been skimming through some of your earlier posts, and found this one that smacks of double-talk.

Apparently, you condemn Sunnis for having fired upon a crowd of Shiites while they were attempting to kill their enemies. You quote the Geneva Conventions as saying:

The parties to a conflict must at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilian population and civilian property. Neither the civilian population as a whole nor individual civilians may be attacked.

Yet you don't seem to have a problem at all when Israel fires indiscriminately into Gaza or Lebanon in an attempt to kill Hamas or Hezbollah members.

So which is it? Are the Sunnis "sick scumbags"? Wouldn't that make the Israelis "sick scumbags" as well? Remember now, choose the sound argument over the clever one... Don't pick and choose on when to apply the Geneva Conventions.
 


CounterPunch's Jonathan Cook: "Western audiences were not shown ... the crushed baby pulled from the rubble."

False (Reuters). False (Reuters). False. False. False. False (ABC).

I've come to terms with his lie. You need to. (I'd likely find more lies, but it's not worth my time.)

MM: "They fire upon them needlessly, even when no enemy is present. THAT really can't be questioned at this point."

I'm questioning it. Exactly why we need to fight propaganda.

MM: "... a real cheerleader for American imperialism ..."

Another great reason to fight propaganda.

MM: "...I've been skimming through some of your earlier posts..."

Glad to hear it! You're looking closer!

MM: "Apparently, you condemn Sunnis for having fired upon a crowd of Shiites while they were attempting to kill their enemies."

Attempting to kill their enemies? They're murdering unarmed civilian worshippers in cold bood!

MM: "Yet you don't seem to have a problem at all when Israel fires indiscriminately into Gaza or Lebanon in an attempt to kill Hamas or Hezbollah members."

But not indisriminately: "... the difference is that Israel causes civilian casualties when it misses its targets, Hezbollah causes civilian casualties when it hits its targets."

Your premise doesn't stand.

Look closer. Think harder. Please, please, please. And do read the 4th Geneva Convention.
 


None of the links that you offered are links to the baby with the planted clean pacifier. They were just links to other murdered children, every one of which deserved the coverage that was given, and coverage for U.S. audiences that they were NOT given. You seem to think that "Western" and U.S. are interchangable, but they are not. You also seem to think that when I ask you for an example of the baby with the blue pacifier in a Reuters report that you can pass off other tragic photos as examples of something that they are not. You respond to specific pointed questions with the same evasiveness that is so typical of this administration who's line of self serving cow dung you seem eager to immerse yourself in.

Israel doesn't "miss targets" with U.S. "smart bombs". They hit exactly what they are aiming at, and are collectively punishing civilian populations - taking yet another cue from their U.S. sponsors based on what has come to pass on countless occasions in Iraq. That collective punishment, as you well know, is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention.

I'll end this debate now because it is perfectly clear that you are punch-drunk on nationalistic fervor. I can only hope that you and yours are soon taken out of power so that our great nation can begin to repair its good name in the international community and attempt to lead the world by modeling appropriate, peaceful and compassionate behavior rather than shaming our name with bellicose posturing and violent fear based immaturity.

May you someday travel to non-English speaking lands to immerse yourself in a culture much older than ours and come to the realization that to be so certain that our nation is at the center of the universe is utterly provincial at best and, in all likelihood, at least covertly racist.
 


MM: "You seem to think that "Western" and U.S. are interchangable, but they are not."
MM: "Show me a link to a U.S. mainstream media source..."

Who thinks that?

Whatever you do, don't ask what those images do to JC's premise.

MM: "You respond to specific pointed questions with the same evasiveness..."

I was thinking the same thing about you.

MM: "...it is perfectly clear that you are punch-drunk on nationalistic fervor.

From your pathological point-of-view, my slant toward Western civilization would seem that way. I hope someday you see the awkward, ugly place your moral equivalence takes you (e.g., hiding from the Geneva conventions).

MM: "May you someday travel to non-English speaking lands..."

You mean besides the 192 countries that signed the Geneva conventions.
 


P.S.: Reuters. Baby. Blue pacifier. Western audience. Awaiting the next condition you add.
 


As a backgrounder, Reuters' Adnan Hajj, who took the Qana baby picture, was the one whose photos were all taken down from Reuters' web-site.

So this particular picture is very hard to come by today, and isn't available by direct link to Reuters or its feeds.

I wonder if that's why CounterPunch's Jonathan Cook referenced it so specifically.

In the detail of this photo, don't lose sight of his big lie: "Pictures were binned or cropped if they hinted at what suffering and death truly looked like." Debunked above.
 

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