As an, ahem, “precautionary” measure, while they investigate.

‘Twas Rusty killed the beast:

Reuters ended its relationship with Hajj on Sunday after it found that a photograph he had taken of the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on suburban Beirut had been manipulated using Photoshop software to show more and darker smoke rising from buildings.

An immediate enquiry began into Hajj’s other work.

It established on Monday that a photograph of an Israeli F-16 fighter over Nabatiyeh, southern Lebanon and dated Aug 2, had also been doctored to increase the number of flares dropped by the plane from one to three.

I think we’re at the part in “Shattered Glass” now where Peter Sarsgaard’s rifling through back issues of the New Republic while Hayden Christensen sobs gently behind him.

“Chuck? Are you mad at me, Chuck?”

Update: The photos are still available on the wires, of course. They’ll just no longer be offered for sale by Reuters.

Update: Note this part:

The two altered photographs were among 43 that Hajj filed directly to the Reuters Global Pictures Desk since the start of the conflict on July 12 rather than through an editor in Beirut, as was the case with the great majority of his images.

In my first post about Hajj, I wrote:

I wonder: do editors typically review every shot before it hits the wires, especially ones as comparatively mundane as this? Anyone know? Surely they place some degree of trust in their stringers not to manipulate images…

You can draw a motive matrix here with four possibilities: political bias on the part of Hajj and the Reuters editor who approved the shot; political bias on the part of one and incompetence on the part of the other; or incompetence on the part of both. The last is the least damning — but still pretty damning.

Update: More Hajj chicanery? It’s possible that the flattened building referred to in the caption of the second photo is on the right, out of frame. But that’s the most charitable explanation.

And even then, that’s one misleading caption.

At least now we know how the nonsense about Beirut having allegedly been “totally destroyed” got started. It seems one bomb can flatten the same house day after day after day…

Someone sent me this last night, too. Again: possibly innocent. Maybe she just really likes that hijab, or maybe it’s the only one she’s got. But please note that if date manipulation did go on here, it’s an AP photographer who’s guilty of it, not someone from Reuters.

How far does this go?

Update: Mary K, whose cameo in Day By Day will soon be my desktop image, makes a nice catch on Editor & Publisher. Cartoon jihad redux: if you want to see what the fuss is all about, you’re plum out of luck, pal.

I do think she’s pushing her luck when she says this, though: “Don’t push the bloggers away. They are your friends. They will help you through this hard time.”

Er, yeah. Us and al-Reuters. Friends.

Update: Fox News is all over it. As is Rush Limbaugh.

Update Confederate Yankee on the massacre that wasn’t.

Update: Something I neglected to mention earlier: Reuters is acknowledging now that the flares in the photo of the Israeli jet were doctored — without noting that the original caption didn’t identify them as flares. It identified them as “missiles.”

So we’ve got another caption problem.

Photographers usually write their own captions. Is that true in this case? Or do we have more incompetence/bias in the Reuters HQ photo department?

Update: Another naturalistic, not-at-all-staged, cry-for-me-baby Adnan Hajj special:

hajj-beirut.jpg

Check out what Gateway Pundit’s got, too.

Update: The left reacts the only way they know how, by ignoring what the scandal implies about media coverage of the Middle East and instead downplaying it to minimize wingnut point-scoring. “Moral blindness personified,” says Moran.

Update: I really dig E.M. Zanotti, even though she bungles her facts in taking a swipe at me. “Shattered Glass” was about Stephen Glass, not Jayson Blair. And Blair, like Glass, didn’t merely plagiarize, he embellished some facts and invented others wholesale in order to make his stories juicier. Just like Hajj did.

But I digress. Here’s a minor classic of blog pessimism, a genre which I’ve been known to dabble in myself from time to time:

[A]lthough we think this is insane and stupid, and Reuters should be blown to space because of it, we hardly find this to be indicitive of anything other than a “we told you so.” Bloggers rely wholly on the MSM to report things that we then snarkily (hate that word) debunk, in a sort of Mystery Science Theater way. We watch from the sidelines while the MSM burns, the way that the MSM used to watch from the sidelines as government burns. They now believe themselves to be a branch of the feds, so we get to be the citizen milita army out there to ensure that they aren’t quatering themselves on our lawns. We’re never going to spell the end of media any more than Count Chocula spelled the end of serious cereals like Rasin Bran. We just provide an option to people who are so cynical, they might explode.

By tomorrow, nobody will care and Reuters will post another obviously staged photograph of Korans burning in the rubble of an elementary school that collapsed while it was full of babies and blind kittens. Until then, lets just enjoy the fact that professional journalists can’t use software to save their lives, and leave the pretending-we’re-relevant for the next election cycle.

All that and the royal “we,” too. I’m adding her to my RSS list. I suggest you do so as well.