Friday, November 09, 2007

A Republican blogger's strange war on Reuters

For the last few months I've more or less been focused on Virginia's state elections and the ongoing battle between George W. Bush and the Democratic majority in Congress.

Off to the side however, a vague awareness of a newer Republican blog in the Virginia blogosphere has been building. Maybe some of you have noticed this blog, "Snapped Shot," as well. An underlying theme of this blog seems to be that Reuters doesn't do a very good job of covering the Middle-East.

The odd thing is, most of the pictures on this blog are taken from Reuters or other news agencies, apparently with no regard to licensing fees or fair use.

If someone wants to critique a news agency or company I say more power to them: like most Virginia Leftybloggers, I have an adverserial relationship with the Washington Times and Richmond Times Dispatch. But if you are going to attack someone you really ought to do your fact checking to make certain your story or stories are true.

Take "Snapped Shot" today:
It would appear that the Iranian government is stirring up a little bit of Ye Olde Anti-American Sentiments amongst its people again—Here's a "spontaneous" protest outside of the United Nations accusing the United States of "delaying" the process of rebuilding Shi'ite shrines in Iraq. Of course, the Iranian government probably shouldn't be expected to inform its citizens that Iran had a hand in those bombings, but hey, that's okay:—Reuters doesn't think you need to know that, either.
"Snapped Shot" is accusing Iran of involvement in the February 2006 bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq. It seems that the author of "Snapped Shot," one Brian C. Ledbetter, is trying to promote anti-Iranian sentiment in order to support Bush and Cheney's current anti-Iran policy.

There's just one problem: his story isn't true. As his source, Mr. Ledbetter cited a story from the American Chronicle from Friday February 26, 2006, just two days after the bombing and before the bombing had been properly investigated. This article made a number of accusations against Iran without providing any support. The accusations subsequently turned out to be completely false.

My source? President George W. Bush himself:
QUESTION: Morning, Mr. President.

When you talked today about the violence in Baghdad, first you mentioned extremists, radicals, and then Al Qaida. It seems that Al Qaida and foreign fighters are much less of a problem there and that it really is Iraqi versus Iraqi.

And when we heard about your meeting the other day with experts and so forth, some of the reporting out of that said you were frustrated, you were surprised. And your spokesman said: No, you're determined.

But frustration seems like a very real emotion. Why wouldn't you be frustrated, sir, about what's happening?

BUSH: I do remember the meeting; I don't remember being surprised.

BUSH: I'm not sure what they meant by that.

QUESTION: About the lack of gratitude among the Iraqi people...

BUSH: No, I think -- first of all, the first part of your question: You know, if you look back at the words of Zarqawi before he was brought to justice, he made it clear that the intent of their tactics in Iraq was to create civil strife.

In other words, look at what he said. He said, let's kill Shia to get Shia to seek revenge and therefore create this, kind of, hopefully, cycle of violence.

Secondly, it's pretty clear -- at least the evidence indicates -- that the bombing of the shrine was an Al Qaida plot, all intending to create sectarian violence.[1]
As everyone knows, Al Quaeda in Iraq is a SUNNI militia group that has repeatedly threatened Iran to stay out of Iraq and stop supporting Iraqi Shia.

No, I doubt very much that Reuters feels the need to report stories that are false and without merit. I wonder why Snapped Shot feels the need to?


Brian L said...


I just ran across this little diatribe. Don't you think this is a bit of a cheap shot? I mean, comparing a random blogger to a news agency?

If you can find one place where I claim to be a multinational, multi-billion dollar news corporation, I'd love to see it. As for said news corporation, you might want to start by googling the name "Adnan Hajj" to get a little bit of taste of where their multiple layers of fact-checking go.

Again, I thank you *profusely* for pointing out my errors. I have never claimed to be perfect, and when someone can prove that I've made a false statement, I never hesitate in correcting myself in public. I think you'll find that, despite an occasional bout of harsh rhetoric on my part, I do generally try to stay as fair as humanly possible.

Brian/snapped shot

The Richmond Democrat said...

Welcome to the blogosphere Brian.

I don't see where I compare you to Reuters, please point out that section to me.

You clearly have some kind of problem with Reuters and other news agencies that employ photographers in the Middle East. These companies are in the business of providing all kinds of content for sale, including stock photos.

I am well aware of who Adnan Hajj is and what remedial actions Reuters took in the wake of the Adnan Hajj scandal. Perhaps you are not aware of the steps Reuters took?

If Fox News held itself to the same standard as Reuters, firing every employee who propagated false information and/or images, they would have to terminate their entire on air staff.

The great irony is that no one in Virginia would ever see see the majority of these pictures if you didn't rip them off and re-publish them. They aren't public domain and your use without paying royalties could violate copyright and/or fair use. Are you aware of that?

If you are going to hold yourself out as some kind of expert, be prepared to be critiqued and don't whine when you are wrong (and you seem to be wrong a lot). Your posts are irresponsible, racist, war mongering propaganda.

Be forewarned: If you intend to spew this stuff into the Virginia blogosphere where I have to see it, I intend to point out any falsehoods or poor research I spot.



Brian L said...

1) "No, I doubt very much that Reuters feels the need to report stories that are false and without merit. I wonder why Snapped Shot feels the need to?"

2) I asked you about Hajj, so obviously I'm familiar with the situation. Did you know that it took over a month before Reuters did anything about the falsehoods he printed? Just a curious factoid about their "bulletproof" editorial process that you appear to have overlooked in your religious crusade against "Evil Republicans" such as myself.

3) Fox News? Obsess much, do we?

I'm sure you think that Keith Olbermann is the absolute most fair and balanced personality on television, don't ya?


4) Fair use. I am discussing the photographs in the context of commentary on the news, which last I checked was the definition thereof. (And hint: I am not a news site, I am pretty clearly an editorialist. Different standards for content, and all.)

5) As I stated before, I welcome corrections, criticism, and anything else you've got. Always. Without question.

I will say that it is rather amusing to see you throw a hissy fit over it now, though—considering I've been "spewing" this stuff into the Virginia blogosphere for over a year now. Haven't heard Waldo complain about it yet, and he and I have had our disagreements throughout the period, though he seems to handle them a whole lot better than your childish "Evil Republican Is Shilling For Bush War" crap.

(And nobody's making you see it, incidentally. You don't hear me complaining about some of the far-left blogs that appear on Waldo's blogroll—because unlike you, I understand what tolerating opinions different than my own means.)

Look forward to hearing the flowing corrections in the future. Keep up the spectacular job of manning the "Rove Watch" post.


The Richmond Democrat said...

Another satisfied customer.

Brian L said...

It's definitely been fun. Look forward to chatting with you later! ;)