You will not read one of the most significant stories of the week out of Iraq on the front page of The New York Times. CNN will not make it headline news. The Associated Press has yet to touch it.
That's because the story exposes the media's own widespread malfeasance in reporting on the war on terror -- and its refusal to be held accountable when challenged by "amateur" bloggers investigating fishy sources and claims recycled recklessly by "professional" journalists.
One of the most sensational news items over the Thanksgiving holiday came from the Associated Press, which reported on six Sunni civilians burned alive as they left Friday mosque services. The shocking dispatch received global coverage. The front cover of the Philadelphia Daily News blasted:
"WORSHIPPERS BURNED ALIVE: Capping deadliest week of war, 6 Sunnis doused with kerosene, set afire as Iraqi soldiers reportedly stand idle." The Chicago Sun-Times blared: "Sunnis burned alive in revenge." The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia headlined: "Shi'ite militia burn Sunnis alive in revenge attacks." The Calcutta Telegraph in India echoed: "Shias burn Sunnis alive."
The Washington Post announced: "New savage twist to violence in Baghdad." The lead paragraph reported: "Revenge-seeking Shiite militiamen seized six Sunnis as they left Friday prayers, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive, and Iraqi soldiers did nothing to stop the attack, police and witnesses said."
The story continued: "Police Capt. Jamil Hussein said Iraqi soldiers at a nearby army post failed to intervene in the burnings of Sunnis carried out by suspected members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia, or in subsequent attacks that torched four Sunni mosques and killed at least 19 other Sunnis, including women and children, in the same northwest Baghdad area."
Just a few small problems with the massively publicized story:
1) "Police Capt. Jamil Hussein" is an unreliable, unauthorized spokesperson whom the military has warned the Associated Press about before.
2) The incident cannot be verified.
Newspaper readers around the world who carried the story have not been informed of any of this by the Associated Press or any other mainstream media outlet. But those who follow the blogosphere have been unraveling the story over the past week at lightning pace. Curt at the Flopping Aces blog (http://floppingaces.net/) has led the way, first raising questions on Saturday morning about "police Capt. Jamil Hussein's" account. He noted an official Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) statement in response to the AP report that "neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story."
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