I’ve been following the AP-Captain Jamail Hussein-Sock-Puppet imbroglio with somewhat less than my usual vicious interest in the follies of the MSM for two reasons: one, I’m distracted by the entrancements of the 19th century, and two, I’ve been pounding on this over the last two or three years, and I’m really, really tired of repeating myself.

It’s become pretty damned clear to us news junkies that depending on local stringers in certain areas of conflict, unrest or just generally feelings of bad karma was a shaky construction for a news entity who still wished to maintain some pretension of impartiality. The list of news-producing areas— those places which generate an inordinate number of headlines and passionate concern — where the crystalline flow of pure information has been tainted by the sewage of partisan interest has always been long. In my youth it included practically every news organization behind the Iron or Bamboo curtain; of course, the news bureau of a Communist state was slanting, censoring, bending folding and mutilating the news, and you were an idiot or a college professor of the Marxist bent if you didn’t know it and apply salt to taste.

Add to that now any coverage of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, southern Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, and hefty chunks of the Middle East by entities like Reuters, AP, CNN, France 2, the BBC, 60 Minutes…. Well, you get the idea. There isn’t a chunk of salt big enough to take away the taste of krep when partisan journalism masquerades as impartial newsgathering.

And what is the reaction of formerly trustworthy purveyors of news, upon having been repeatedly busted for falsifying pictures, for use of incompetently faked documents, staged footage and outright lies, pissing away decades or more of accumulated credibility? Oddly enough, it appears to follow a progression rather like the five stages of grief: denial, followed by anger, followed by bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

AP, as an aggregate news distributor has the most to lose when busted for credibility. It is not just one channel, or one reporter, like CNN or the egregious Dan Rather, but it feeds stories to newspapers world wide. It’s an authoritative higher power, kind of like the Pope. To have thousands of readers across the US open their various daily papers, see a story from Whereverthehellistan credited to the AP, and to realize that all of them are thinking, derisively “Whotta load!” and turning the page must be a bitter pill indeed for AP’s management. Hence the denial and the anger directed at those pesky bloggers who raised questions about the AP’s Baghdad Sock-puppet o’the Month, Captain Jamail Hussein. After all, we might start wondering about how many other sock-puppet sources feature other AP stories… or how many featured in the past.

Anyone else see AP’s credibility and profitability , flaming up and collapsing in ruin like a journalistic Hindenburg, if readers begin putting the AP brand on par with those supermarket tabs that always have stories about alien abductions, monkey-human babies and antique airplanes on the moon?

Give Reuters credit, at least their management zipped through the cycle to acceptance, in pulling suspect pictures from their archives. They can see the writing on the wall clear enough, and what they will loose by no longer being credible. But Dan Rather is still stuck in the bargaining phase, and it looks like AP is mining rich veins of denial.

I love the smell of desperation in the morning…. It smells like victory. Or maybe it’s just those weird pine-scented aromatherapy candles my daughter insists on burning.

Responses to the Editor & Publisher Article here

This essay also cross-posted at The Daily Brief.

Sgt. Mom is a freelance writer and retired Air Force NCO who blogs at www.sgtstryker.com, and lives in San Antonio.

Be Sociable, Share!