Here you go.
Mary Katherine Ham’s got a column at Town Hall today about some of the holes in the media’s coverage. It’s solid stuff, but it does make a bit too much of one point. MK writes (emphasis mine):
In a subsequent Time story, we have this correction:
In the original version of this story, TIME reported that “one of the most damning pieces of evidence investigators have in their possession, John Sifton of Human Rights Watch told Time’s Tim McGirk, is a photo, taken by a Marine with his cell phone that shows Iraqis kneeling — and thus posing no threat — before they were shot.”
While Sifton did tell TIME that there was photographic evidence, taken by Marines, he had only heard about the specific content of the photos from reports done by NBC, and had no firsthand knowledge. TIME regrets the error.
Well, I would hope they regret that one. When a major national news magazine claims there is specific photographic evidence of American Marines killing civilians while they were praying and it ends up being wrong, that correction should be as prominent as possible, especially when those Marines have not yet been charged or faced trial.
Sloppy reporting indeed from Time, but Mary K goes too far when she pronounces the claim “wrong.” Remember, folks — CNN has seen the photos. According to reporter Jamie McIntyre, they show:
# A woman and child leaning against the wall, heads slumped forward.
# Another woman and child shot in bed.
# A man sprawled face down with his legs behind him.
# An elderly woman slumped over, her neck possibly snapped by the force of gunfire.
All of the victims were wearing casual attire. Some had been shot in the head. Some were face down, others face up.
The first item listed, in particular, sounds somewhat similar to what Sifton described (depending upon whether the victims were facing towards the wall or away from it). Which, again, doesn’t excuse Time’s mistake, but it does mean that the claim can’t be dismissed out of hand.
I leave you with this from Major Chaz of Mind in the Qatar. Why in god’s name he’s subjecting himself to foreign media coverage of Haditha, I’ll never know.
Update: On the other hand, if any of the photos showed Iraqis kneeling — specifically, in the case of the first image listed, kneeling facing the wall — wouldn’t CNN have played up that fact to the hilt? And even if they did, what would it prove? Wuterich admits that they fired into the room through a cloud of smoke; some of the people inside might have been frightened enough to start praying when they heard the Marines barge into the house and might have ended up being struck by gunshots while in that position.
It all comes down to the forensics, doesn’t it? The latest on exhumation:
Pictures of the dead bodies taken by a Marine intelligence unit have convinced investigators that the Iraqis were shot at close range, some “execution-style,” and that charges including murder and dereliction of duty would be appropriate.
But defense attorneys are expected to argue that without autopsies, no such determination can be made. Military officials are seeking to persuade families to allow the bodies to be exhumed but, so far, have been rebuffed.
But it’s worth noting this bit from CNN:
Senior Pentagon officials have said a probe into the November deaths tends to support allegations that Marines carried out an unprovoked massacre after one of their comrades was killed by a roadside bomb.
Update: I meant to link this earlier but forgot. Thanks to “birdman” for reminding me. The Media Research Center compared the amount of news coverage of alleged military misconduct on the major networks over the last three weeks to the amount of coverage of medal recipients over the last five years, and found a little bit of an imbalance.
I can’t believe the numbers for the medal winners are as low as they claim, but see for yourself.