January 26, 2008

Journalistic Malpractice

Khaled Abu Toameh busts reporters for collaborating with Hamas and staging photographs in Gaza. This is really getting ridiculous, but it

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2008 11:11 AM
Comments
Those must be giant klieg lights from all the Pallywood filming shining in the windows. With the curtains drawn, no less..
Posted by: CERDIP at January 26, 2008 11:33 am
I think it's better described as propaganda.
Many media outlets have been nothing more than propagandists for Hammas for some time now.
It's right up there with reporting that the "military wing" of Hammas is responsible for the attack on XXX.
Which implies that the "non-military" wing had nothing to do with the attack on XXX.
It's actually quite sickening.
Posted by: Sir Glubb at January 26, 2008 12:12 pm
The caption on the photo says: "a cabinet meeting held in candle light in solidarity with the residents of Gaza".
In solidarity.
That means they chose to darken the room and use candles when they didn't have to.
As an act of solidarity. Not as an act of deception.
It is so obviously daytime in the photo that I can't believe you would even think this was intended to be a trick.
Posted by: Ethylene at January 26, 2008 1:06 pm
Ethylene: I can't believe you would even think this was intended to be a trick.
(eyeroll)
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2008 1:23 pm
Look, not every piece of propaganda created in the Middle East is for Western consumption.
In this case, the Hamas legislators are making a point to Palestinians.
They are saying they are on the side of the Gazans who must go without electricity, while Fatah and Abu Mazen do nothing to help, and indeed support the blockade on Gaza.
They are not trying to trick people into thinking that Hamas has no generators or fuel stockpiled, and literally must meet by candlelight. They are making a voluntary show of solidarity in order to make a partisan political point about which party is siding with Gaza, and which with Israel.
This is propaganda, but not in the way you think it is.
Posted by: Ethylene at January 26, 2008 1:55 pm
They are not trying to trick people into thinking that Hamas has no generators or fuel stockpiled, and literally must meet by candlelight. They are making a voluntary show of solidarity in order to make a partisan political point about which party is siding with Gaza, and which with Israel.

Were this true, they would have made a grandiose announcement to that effect. Did you hear of such an announcement? I doubt you did. If what you say is true, you could easily point to news reports that would lay my doubts to rest. But I doubt you will.
Posted by: calbear at January 26, 2008 2:20 pm
Ethylene: Look, not every piece of propaganda created in the Middle East is for Western consumption.
Reuters published it, and Yahoo is carrying it.
They are saying they are on the side of the Gazans who must go without electricity
No, they aren't. Hamas shut off an electrical plant to protest Israel. They are not on "the side" of Palestinians who now have to live in the dark because of it. And anyway, most of Gaza still has electricity because the Israelis continue to provide it.
Palestinians shut off some of the electricity while Israel still provides electricity everywhere else in Gaza. The entire media campaign makes it look like Israel is forcing Palestinians to live in the dark, but that is not happening. Everything about this stunt is propaganda.
If you want to lap it up, fine. Be my guest. Whatever. You aren't the only fool in the world and, like Fox Mulder, you apparently want to believe.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2008 2:23 pm
@ Calbear
I'm just going on the fact that it is obviously daytime in the photos. If this was intended to be a trick, then Hamas would not have allowed any photographer to take a photo with the curtains visible; or they would have put up darker curtains; or they would have invited only loyal press.
Doesn't it worry you that you so easily spotted the flaw? Isn't it usually a little bit harder to find?
The explanation that they intended to trick people into thinking it was nighttime in the photos requires us to believe that Hamas are not only dastardly tricksters but also very stupid or very incompetent.
Given that they are not as stupid or incompetent as all that, I conclude that they are not trying to make believe it's nighttime.
Look, Hamas drive trucks around the whole time. So how could anyone believe they have no fuel?
I just find it hard to believe that they could intend a trick that was so patently a trick. I find it more credible to believe that there has been a misunderstanding, and that people who are inclined to expect Hamas to try to trick them are recording a false positive.
I may be wrong, I accept that possibility. It's just that I can't believe this was a serious attempt to trick anybody.
@ Michael
Yes, but I already quoted the AP caption, which said "in solidarity". This seems to me to be the correct interpretation: solidarity implies voluntary deprivation, not imposed necessity. If other news agencies are republishing it with a different slant, then they are confused.
Can you paste the link to Reuters' or Yahoo's use of the pictures?
I didn't say that I believe Hamas are on the side of the Gazans; all I said was, that is the message that Hamas is trying to promote.
Nor does anything I said imply that I don't think the blackout is itself (in some part) a propaganda move.
So you have no grounds for claiming I am lapping up propaganda.
My problem is not with the critical attitude to Hamas publicity, which I think is generally well-aimed. It's simply that I think you and other are so primed to take down Hamas fakery, that you have assumed they are faking the darkness when in fact they mean you to see that they have deliberately chosen to sit in darkness.
The only strange thing is why they didn't just wait until it was dark outside.
Again, I accept that you guys may well be right. I just think that if this is a trick, it is so inept and obviously false that it requires us to believe not only that Hamas are stupid, but also that Hamas believe the rest of the world is as stupid as they are. I find it more likely that this is all a misunderstanding.
P.S. Michael. I've been a reader of your blog for a while now - keep up the good work!
Posted by: Ethylene at January 26, 2008 3:00 pm
Ethylene,
If this was intended to be a trick, then Hamas would not have allowed any photographer to take a photo with the curtains visible; or they would have put up darker curtains
The sunlight shining through the curtains is dimmer than the candlelight. The only reason you can see it so blatantly is because the camera shutter speed during "night shots" must be very slow. They did not realize what an exposed photo would look like. The sunlight looks brighter in the picture than it did to human eye at the time.
Can you paste the link to Reuters' or Yahoo's use of the pictures?
I already did. It's in the main post.
I didn't say that I believe Hamas are on the side of the Gazans; all I said was, that is the message that Hamas is trying to promote. Nor does anything I said imply that I don't think the blackout is itself (in some part) a propaganda move. So you have no grounds for claiming I am lapping up propaganda.
Ok.
Again, I accept that you guys may well be right. I just think that if this is a trick, it is so inept and obviously false that it requires us to believe not only that Hamas are stupid, but also that Hamas believe the rest of the world is as stupid as they are.
I have no difficulty whatsoever believing that Hamas members are stupid enough to screw up these stunts once in a while. Any group who engages in enough staged photos will blow it from time to time.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2008 3:13 pm
OK. I don't know anything about photography but that sounds plausible. That is suspicious then. That changes things, because they would have made a mistake that wouldn't have been obvious at the time.
Posted by: Ethylene at January 26, 2008 3:32 pm
You can also see very bright light through a tiny crack in the curtains. You can also see, on the far right of the photo, light on the floor coming from the next room through a door that was left ajar. The light on the floor is the same (white) color as the sunlight on the wall right next to the curtains rather than the (yellow) light from the candles.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2008 3:38 pm
Not to mention the fact that reporters on the scene said the photos were taken during daylight. But that little detail was left out of the Reuters caption explaining the photo.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2008 3:39 pm
Wouldn't that bright crack have been obvious at the time?
Overall, I'm undecided.
I don't think we have enough info to say definitively whether they meant to trick us into believing it was dark outside and that they had to use candles (necessity) - or alternatively whether they intended to be seen to be darkening the room and using candles out of choice (solidarity).
It sounds like the journalists were given no direction as to which was intended, and assumed the worst. For me, the AP's "solidarity" caption, and the fact that nobody believes Hamas does not have generators and fuel, favour the solidarity explanation. While they might have failed to predict how the photos would turn out, can they have expected anybody to believe that they have no power to light their own meetings?
Posted by: Ethylene at January 26, 2008 3:54 pm
Uh, daylight?
C'mon guys, anyone knows this is all propaganda. Anything coming from Hamas or Fatah is suspect.
Do this little thought experiment if you can. How long would we tolerate Mexico launching rockets from Juarez into El Paso? Even homemade bottle rockets?
If Hamas is the legit government of Gaza or Palestine - whatever you want to call that collection of ingrates - then it is an act of war and Israel and the IDF are more than justified in their return attacks. If Hamas is not, then they are terrorists and "Palestine" has the responsibility of policing their illegal attacks on a sovereign nation, Israel. There ain't NO waffling in between. It is one or the other. You CANNOT have it both ways.
Posted by: Robohobo at January 26, 2008 11:12 pm
Robohobo: How long would we tolerate Mexico launching rockets from Juarez into El Paso?
If it was from the government? 0.0 seconds.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2008 11:20 pm
Fauxtography in Paliwood? Say it ain't so!
Posted by: Lindsey at January 27, 2008 12:39 am
For the sake of fairness, maybe you should think about the rest of your "thought experiment" and ask how long Mexico would tolerate US control of its airspace, all of its ports and its border with Belize? And while we're at it, if we want to look at the Palestinians as a whole, how long would Mexico tolerate the majority of its territory (the West Bank) being occupied by the US?
Sure, Hamas can't have its cake and eat it too, but neither can Israel.
Posted by: barabbas at January 28, 2008 3:58 am
baraabbas:
A Mexico thought experiment?
Border, what border? More than 10% (or is it 20%?)of the Mexican population resides in the U.S.
Posted by: JAS at January 28, 2008 10:54 pm
There's obviously also electric light coming from the valence over the left window, probably a fluorescent tube. Oops!
Posted by: Brian H at January 30, 2008 3:26 pm
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