Rusty Shackleford

This weekend was not a good one for Reuters.

First, it was revealed by Charles Johnson of the Little Green Footballs blog that a photo showing bomb damage in Beirut by a local Muslim stringer, Adnan Hajj, was doctored. Reuters promptly recalled the image and fired the reporter.

Since the original unaltered photo revealed that there really was a large explosion being documented by Hajj, Reuters accepted his excuse that the picture was only altered to "remove some dust marks".

Accusations that the photo was “sexed-up” to make Israeli damage of Beirut seem worse were dismissed. The photo was treated as an isolated incident by Reuters. It wasn't.

Prompted by Charles Johnson's expose, a reader led me to another Reuters photo taken by Adnan Hajj. The photo purported to be of an Israeli F-16 firing "missiles" at a Lebanese village.

That photo was also a fake. The original photo actually showed an Israeli plane firing a defensive flare. The flare had been labeled a "missile" by the reporter and then duplicated several times using computer software to make it seem that multiple "missiles" were being "fired" on a Lebanese "village".

In other words, the F-16 which Reuters purports to show firing missiles at a Lebanese village, was taking defensive


This time the "dust marks" excuse could not fly.

When confronted by a second obvious forgery, Reuters was forced to retract all 920 photos produced by Hajj.

But Reuters is still in denial about several things.

First, Reuters retraction order makes it seem as if the second photo was discovered by an internal investigation. An internal discovery of a second faked photo makes it appear that Reuters is a responsible and objective news organization which takes seriously accusations of impropriety. It is not.

Second, and more importantly, Reuters is in denial that there is an overtly anti-Israeli bias in its reports and their accompanying photos.

Why is it that no one at Reuters caught these two obvious forgeries? It doesn't seem too far fetched to suggest that editors do not scrutinize closely those things that they already believe to be true about Israel. The photos showed what Reuters already knew-- namely, that it is Israel that is responsible for so much death and damage in the present Middle East conflict.

Which is why Reuters is still in denial about many other photos which are not outright forgeries, but which appear to be staged?

Rusty Shackleford

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