Truth matters to everyone but reporters and editors, evidently. If it’s not troop-smearing fabulism at The New Republic (where’s the stratified mass children’s grave?), it’s dissent-sowing fabulism at The Telegraph. People need to start losing their jobs over this stuff.

One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general’s signature strategy to be scrapped. “He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias,” said the official. “Bush told Maliki to calm down.”

At another meeting with Gen Petraeus, Mr Maliki said: “I can’t deal with you any more. I will ask for someone else to replace you.”

According to Col Steve Boylan, MNF-I Public Affairs, writing to the Telegraph reporter Damien McElroy, none of this happened.

Gen Petraeus and the Prime Minister have never had a stand-up shouting match, and only once has Gen Petraeus even raised his voice. This is a totally fabricated story, and you should have sought a comment from me, at the least to validate the information from your so-called aides as sources.

Read the rest over at Small Wars Journal. Gen Petraeus himself has now come out and refuted the Telegraph’s story.

If McElroy made this conflict up or intentionally inflated it from standard and understandable differences of opinion to what he’s reporting — Maliki telling President Bush that he can’t work with Petraeus and wants him out — that’s serious misconduct. The evidence so far suggests that Petraeus’ surge strategy is working. McElroy’s reportage seems designed to destroy the Petraeus-Maliki relationship, which is arguably the most important relationship in Iraq right now. When the press makes mistakes, the mistake in question always, always paints the war as lost, the US as incompetent, the violence as even more extreme than the reality, etc. After a few years of this, these mistakes look less like mistakes and more like “mistakes.”