Poor guy. As if his credibility wasn’t in bad enough shape, now some fiendish saboteur’s hacked in to the Media Info archives and revised the column he wrote in 2003 about having invented quotes for a story back in the late 60s. (I say late 60s because, as it turns out, there’s been some doubt cast on whether the incident took place in the year Mitchell says it did.) That column had gotten a lot of attention in the past few days thanks to a post by Confederate Yankee. And now, wonder of wonders, someone’s gone in and rewritten the lede to emphasize Mitchell’s youth and inexperience at the time.
Dan Riehl names a prime suspect. Outrageous! Why, to point the finger at Mitchell, you’d first have to show he’s aware of what’s being said about him on right-wing blogs. Is there any evidence of that at all?
Why … yes. Yes, there is. From his second column in defense of war photographers:
In [my] previous column (which one rightwing blog, with exquisite hypocrisy, labled a “cheap smear”), I briefly mentioned the uproar over comments made by a 23-year-old freelancer in Beirut named Bryan Denton…
The blog to which he’s referring is LGF. The post accusing Mitchell of a “cheap smear” was written on August 23; part two of Mitchell’s column was published on August 24. That’s a pretty quick reaction time. CY’s post noting Mitchell’s old column went up yesterday at 1:41 p.m. Sometime between then and 5:01, the lede was rewritten. If it wasn’t Mitchell who did it, then he’s got some awfully eager defenders out there.
Oh — and there’s something else.
Here’s a screencap from part two of Mitchell’s war-photographers column. Note the two paragraphs about Zombie.
I will swear to you on a stack of Bibles that those two paragraphs weren’t there when the article first went online. I wrote a whole post about it; I read it through several times, specifically looking for instances of Mitchell taking disingenuous shots at bloggers. There were none. It was just a compendium of quotes from the Lightstalkers thread. Today, after reading CY’s post accusing him (or someone) of rewriting that old column, I checked the two about war photographers. And there were the paragraphs about Zombie that I don’t remember reading.
The problem is, I can’t prove it. There’s no Google cache of the page, and no blogger appears to have blockquoted enough of the piece to show that the stuff about Zombie was missing. I do know, however, that quite a few people read it closely — Confederate Yankee and Mary Katharine Ham among them — and I’ll be interested to hear if they remember seeing it.
And before you ask: yes, of course Mitchell misrepresents what Zombie actually wrote in her piece. Here, again, is Mitchell’s take. All emphases mine:
Since my first column, the same blogs are in a tizzy over the “Zombietime” site proving that the July 23 incident, in which two Red Cross ambulances were hit from the air by the Israelis, never happened. Needless to say, there is no such proof, and my favorite line comes near the end when the writer observes “Israel already admitted to carrying out the attack,” adding dryly that this is “an interesting point.”
Does this stop her? Alas, no. She goes on to assert that “all signs” point to a “clumsy hoax,” complete with ambulances towed from a junk yard and “Red Cross workers feigning minor injuries.” Perhaps the Israeli missiles were fired from the Grassy Knoll.
On the contrary — read Zombie’s piece and you’ll see there’s no proof that it did happen. And what about that Israeli admission? Here’s Zombie:
I haven’t been able to find any official record of that quote cited in the two articles above. If Israel really did admit to the attacks, then why, out of at least 400 articles about this incident, only two quoted the admission, and one more paraphrased it? Wouldn’t the admission have been more widely reported? It’s possible that the quote was an IDF member being interviewed somewhere who said, well, if the attack did happen, then we apologize. Conceivably, given the generalized nature of the purported statement, he said it without knowing the facts of this specific incident, and perhaps was not even talking about this particular incident at all. Alternately Israel did issue the preliminary statement, but then later retracted it — yet the retraction was never reported in the media. We simply don’t have enough information about Israel’s purported statement to be sure one way or the other.
Good points worth investigating in light of the questions raised about the attack. How does Mitchell react? By dismissing it out of hand in toto and making smart cracks about conspiracy theory kooks.
Editor. Editor & Publisher magazine.
Can I get a Kirsten Powers reaction shot here?
Update: Nice catch by Dan in the update. We’ve got pretty solid proof now that something was changed in the war-photographers column after the fact. Granted, removing the word “about” from the sentence about Denton is a mere stylistic change and hardly worth shouting about; it’s what it suggests about other changes being made to the column that makes it significant.
Update: Here’s another one Dan found.
Compare the language here to the screencap above.
Update: Capitalist Infidel reports yet another change below. According to CI, Mitchell originally referred to Zombie as a “he;” it was only after CI e-mailed him that Mitchell corrected the pronoun.
I asked CI when he first saw the reference to Zombie’s piece; he says it was on the 24th, the day it was published. That jibes with this comment at LGF recorded at 11:02 p.m. west coast time on August 24th. If the Zombie stuff wasn’t in the column originally — and I maintain that it wasn’t — it was added later that same day.