Reuters Admits Photo Fraud: Now What About Qana?

Stop the pixels! Caught red—handed publishing a fake photo, using PhotoShop or similar program to exaggerate the smoke rising from Beirut after an Israeli air raid, Reuters has withdrawn the picture.

As in the case of the Rathergate memo, credit goes to Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs for devising a means to demonstrate the fraud. According to Charles, the fakery was "crude." Charles has in the past received an explicit death threat sent from a Reuters IP address. Perhaps a bit more careful screening of employees is in order.

The question arises, who exactly produced this fake photo? One Adnan Hajj received the initial photo credit. And guess what? The same man was one of the photographers at Qana!

Jawa Report has much more, as does Michelle Malkin. JR is showing other suspicious photos that come from Hajj or someone with a remarkably similar name.

We live in two different worlds, as the old pop song had it. One world employs local stringers who may well either be under the thumb of Hezbollah, Hamas, or other villainous groups, or who are outright partisans. But they claim to be objective.

The other world, that of internet journalists, acknowledges upfront their political perspectives, and goes after the truth, unafraid to raise and answer questions in a continuing inquiry.

One world, that of the MSM, is content to publicize heart—rending photos of children being carried in front of the cameras, and proclaim "57 dead" in Qana, blaming Israel for utter inhumanity. And then move along, regardless of the fact that only 28 died, and awkward questions must be answered about the suspicious circumstances of a building collapsing on victims in the basement hours after the attack. Why were those children in the building? That's not a complicated question. In fact, it is awfully compelling, if the media chose to focus on it.

The other world, of course, is that of internet journalism. As we saw in the Rathergate memos, serious inquiry into media manipulation of public opinion takes place first on the internet, where questions are asked, facts are dug up, analyses tested, and conclusions gradually strengthened as the evidence warrants. It is an interactive and collective inquiry. Adopting the language of the Japanese philosopher and entrepreneur Konnosuke Matsushita, I call this powerful intellectual process, "The wisdom of the many."

EUReferendum, the British website that has led the way in Qanagate, today updates the story and takes stock. The mainstream media live in a "parallel universe" where it has the freedom to engage in what Rush Limbaugh calls "drive—by journalism" — spraying images and words into the crowd, as shooters do from their cars, and then speeding away in search of their next victim. Drawing on the mysterious ubiquitous "green helemt man" it proposed the "green helmet award"

EUReferendum hereby announces the creation of the annual Green Helmet Award for the crassest example of journalism being manipulated for the promotion of terrorism and terrorist organizations. The runner up will receive the White Tee—Shirt Award.

Of course, there is a long tradition of major media as propagandists, epitomized by Walter Durranty who won a Pulitzer for the New York Times by covering—up the deaths of millions in the Ukraine as a result of deliberate policy.

A few days ago, Jefferson Morely of the Washington Post haughtily dismissed the internet journalists (including American Thinker) looking into Qana. if mainstream media reported it, then it must be true, in essence, was his argument. That attitude is very common, though obviosly unwarranted.

Europe's bloggers, like EU Referendum, now have their own Rathergate story. The international media establishment is on notice. The game has changed, and the truth will out.

Hat tips: Clarice Feldman, Ethel Fenig

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.

Update:  From Protein Wisdom:

In an email, Charles Johnson (who can't get to his site right now) notes that the the 'corrected' photo from Reuters still contains a phantom building first noticed by Allah at Hot Air and suspects that this photo is altered, too.

And Dan Riehl finds this 2004 complaint against Hajj:

Another morgue picture taken by the same photographer features a teenage brother and sister who were supposedly gunned —down by IDF troops. But an initial investigation indicates that their deaths were caused by an explosive device planted by the Palestinians. The photojournalists are a rather homogeneous bunch — hardly representative of an international press core. These are the names of the photographers and photojournalists from AP, Reuters and AFP who covered the action for the Palestinian side of the street in Gaza these past two weeks: Mohammed Salem, Suhaib Salem, Mohamed Azakir, Goran Tomasevic, Khalil Hamra, Adnan Hajj Ali, Nasser Nasser, Hussein Malla, Lefteris Pitarakis, Ahmed Khateib, Salah Malkawi, Abbas Momani, Said Khatib, Mohammed Abed, and Awad Awad.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice...

The major drawback of a propaganda campaign, of course, is that,once it is uncovered, the credibility of those behind it is shot.

Clarice Feldman

Update: Maybe David Letterman needs to add a feature on "stupid cloning tricks." Last year allies of the Venezuelan regime of Hugo Chavez pulled similar cloning stunt, as was noted by a Venezuelan blogger posted at Salon.com, in order to exaggerate the size of a crowd.

Obviously, it requires a real contempt for the public to think that such tricks will work. On the other hand, when supported by enablers in the major media, contemptuous of those who raise awkward questions, sometimes they get away with it, for awhile at least.

Ed Lasky

Update:

In the worldwide blogosphere, Mr. Green Helmet  is showing up everywhere directing the death tableaus. He is ubiquitous at death shots in Lebanon.Here is an example from Tyre today, posted by commenters at Eureferendum: In one, sans helmet and another with helmet from Tyre. One shot BTW is from the AP's Kevin Frayer, another member of the Qana gaggle, and the husband of CTV's ME bureau director. For more photos of Mr. Green Helmet, the uniquitous body snatcher, see EU Referendum.

Clarice Feldman

Update: Reuters has gone through a major downsizing and restructuring, and has seen its profits soar. Sales down by about a quarter, and profits up by a similar percentage in the last year. But some Wall Street analysts are not persuaded that the favorable trends will continue. Hoover's provides a good overview of the basic facts. 

Ed Lasky 

Update

A fairly complete review of the published work (almost 350 photos) of Mr. Adnan Hajj can be found here. Not the Reuters correction.

Update: Kirk Hoglund, who blogs at AJacksonian, proposes a set of guidelines for news agencies, now that we are well into the Photoshop era, where seeing is not necessarily believing:

1) Any given image *published* shall have its raw digital data made available freely for examination by the public. Do retouch and boost colors and such on the *published* image, but for the original, it must be left 'as is' with the entire metadata for that original image encoded.

2) All images shall have their metadata encoded with them. Most modern digital cameras give metadata as to camera type, make, model, f—stop and such like. Many others have further capabilities added into them to include date and time. All of that from the original image must be left INTACT along with that original image source.

3) GPS data coordinates and metadata associated with it, when captured, shall be included as part of (2) above.

4) When purchasing images from a photojournalist or anyone having taken images of an event, all images taken from all cameras by that individual shall be made freely available, even if not *used* for the actual storyline. These shall adhere to the first three, above. Copyright sharing with other media sources may be arranged and some small, but limited time to release given, say a few days, as most of these images are not 'newsworthy' but show veracity of the images used. Very few images ever become 'iconic' in stature, and most of those soon pass into the public domain by default at some point. Give the photojournalist time to shop pictures around, realize that they will be digitally duplicated at other sites that buy them.

5) All film processing, camera types and digital conversion shall also be covered with this, along with source of conversion.

There will be screams and hollerings over 4. This is the era of cheap storage. Get used to it. If you are in the news or factual reporting business and use images to depict a real—life scene, then demonstration of giving the utmost to make these images verifiable and truthful is necessary.

The era of easy acceptance of a photograph as the *actual* image of an event is now gone.

Update: Dan Riehl, compares two Hajj shoot — one of a guerilla and one of a fireman — and thinks the men are one and the same.

Also,

AP joins Reuters in the Lebanon Follies. Here are two pictures  by the two agencies, apparently of the same woman in the same garb on different days bewailing for the photographers the loss of her home(s).

Clarice Feldman

Update: Reuters has informed Adnan Hajj that they will not accept any more of his work. He is now identified as a "free lance photographer." The agency also notes

Hajj worked for Reuters as a non—staff freelance, or contributing photographer, from 1993 until 2003 and again since April 2005.

He was among several photographers from the main international news agencies whose images of a dead child being held up by a rescuer in the village of Qana, south Lebanon, after an Israeli air strike on July 30 have been challenged by blogs critical of the mainstream media's coverage of the Middle East conflict.

Reuters and other news organisations reviewed those images and have all rejected allegations that the photographs were staged. [emphasis added]

However, as Michelle Malkin pointed out, the Reuters website claims the following

"Our policy is to send news to our customers only after scrutiny by a group of production editors who ensure quality standards are maintained across all our news services. When we get something wrong, our policy is to be honest about errors and to correct them promptly and clearly."

Which begs the question of what kind of quality standards would allow a crudely Photoshopped picture to run? How is the review of the Qana pictures by Hajj any different from the scrutiny applied to the Beirut pictures by Hajj?

Since Reuters now acknowledges that it has been hoaxed, and in turn has hoaxed the world's media, doesn't it owe us a detailed explanation of its standards? Shouldn't the review of the Qana pictures be put into the hands of an independent panel of experts.

Shouldn't Charles Johnson  of Little Green Footballs be part of that independent review panel? After all, Reuters owes him a debt of gratitude for uncovering a mistake their own quality assurance standards were iunadequate to detect.

IF (and it must now be regarded as a serious question) Reuters is committed to supplying the world with truth rather than phony propaganda, Reuters must acknowledge the inadequacy of its standards. It must therefore immediately and thoroughly apply higher standards to all of the work it has published by Hajj, including the Qana pictures.

If Reuters continues to use its proven—inadequate internal procedures to vouch for the accuracy of it Qana pictures, thiose reassureances cannot be regarded as worthy of respect.

Thomas Lifson  8/6/06 3:20 PM PDT

Update: Sweetness & Light reports that the white shirted man in Qana carrying the dead child was widely reported by major media to be her father. A careful look through the Qana play act shoot, however, shows he seemed far too nonchalant at the dig for that claim to be real. On the other hand it is clear from other shots of his home, that he is a fervent Hezbollah supporter. 

Clarice Feldman  8/6/06 4:05 PDT

further thought from Clarice (4:20 PM): the white shirted man identified as father of the girl takes France's Channel 2 to his home. So what on earth was his "daughter" doing in the basement of the apartment building several hours after it was hit by the Israelis?

Update: Ace of Spades HQ debunks more suspicious Hajj photos. Great work here.

H/T Little Green Footballs   8/6/06 4:23 PM PDT

Update: Michelle Malkin has plenty of links here, and posts Hajj pictures and others now questioned, as the scandal deepens. She also links to Euphoric Reality, which has submitted the word "Reutered" to the Urban Doctionary.

Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report demonstrates that Hajj used Photoshop or similar program to "enhance" ("lie") about a picture of Israeli jets supposedly launching another cruel attack.

Powerline shows Reuters captioning the same building as being flatterened by two different Israeli air raids on Julyt 24 and August 5.

These other deceptions deepen the case for an outside investigation. Clearly, Hajj is not a lone rogue photgrapher. The problem at Reuters goes directly to the photo editor level, at a minimum, and maybe higher.

It is almost inconveivable to me that a professional photo editing staff could pass off the same buildings as galttened in raids two weeks apart.

8/7/06 3:40 AM PDT

Stop the pixels! Caught red—handed publishing a fake photo, using PhotoShop or similar program to exaggerate the smoke rising from Beirut after an Israeli air raid, Reuters has withdrawn the picture.

As in the case of the Rathergate memo, credit goes to Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs for devising a means to demonstrate the fraud. According to Charles, the fakery was "crude." Charles has in the past received an explicit death threat sent from a Reuters IP address. Perhaps a bit more careful screening of employees is in order.

The question arises, who exactly produced this fake photo? One Adnan Hajj received the initial photo credit. And guess what? The same man was one of the photographers at Qana!

Jawa Report has much more, as does Michelle Malkin. JR is showing other suspicious photos that come from Hajj or someone with a remarkably similar name.

We live in two different worlds, as the old pop song had it. One world employs local stringers who may well either be under the thumb of Hezbollah, Hamas, or other villainous groups, or who are outright partisans. But they claim to be objective.

The other world, that of internet journalists, acknowledges upfront their political perspectives, and goes after the truth, unafraid to raise and answer questions in a continuing inquiry.

One world, that of the MSM, is content to publicize heart—rending photos of children being carried in front of the cameras, and proclaim "57 dead" in Qana, blaming Israel for utter inhumanity. And then move along, regardless of the fact that only 28 died, and awkward questions must be answered about the suspicious circumstances of a building collapsing on victims in the basement hours after the attack. Why were those children in the building? That's not a complicated question. In fact, it is awfully compelling, if the media chose to focus on it.

The other world, of course, is that of internet journalism. As we saw in the Rathergate memos, serious inquiry into media manipulation of public opinion takes place first on the internet, where questions are asked, facts are dug up, analyses tested, and conclusions gradually strengthened as the evidence warrants. It is an interactive and collective inquiry. Adopting the language of the Japanese philosopher and entrepreneur Konnosuke Matsushita, I call this powerful intellectual process, "The wisdom of the many."

EUReferendum, the British website that has led the way in Qanagate, today updates the story and takes stock. The mainstream media live in a "parallel universe" where it has the freedom to engage in what Rush Limbaugh calls "drive—by journalism" — spraying images and words into the crowd, as shooters do from their cars, and then speeding away in search of their next victim. Drawing on the mysterious ubiquitous "green helemt man" it proposed the "green helmet award"

EUReferendum hereby announces the creation of the annual Green Helmet Award for the crassest example of journalism being manipulated for the promotion of terrorism and terrorist organizations. The runner up will receive the White Tee—Shirt Award.

Of course, there is a long tradition of major media as propagandists, epitomized by Walter Durranty who won a Pulitzer for the New York Times by covering—up the deaths of millions in the Ukraine as a result of deliberate policy.

A few days ago, Jefferson Morely of the Washington Post haughtily dismissed the internet journalists (including American Thinker) looking into Qana. if mainstream media reported it, then it must be true, in essence, was his argument. That attitude is very common, though obviosly unwarranted.

Europe's bloggers, like EU Referendum, now have their own Rathergate story. The international media establishment is on notice. The game has changed, and the truth will out.

Hat tips: Clarice Feldman, Ethel Fenig

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.

Update:  From Protein Wisdom:

In an email, Charles Johnson (who can't get to his site right now) notes that the the 'corrected' photo from Reuters still contains a phantom building first noticed by Allah at Hot Air and suspects that this photo is altered, too.

And Dan Riehl finds this 2004 complaint against Hajj:

Another morgue picture taken by the same photographer features a teenage brother and sister who were supposedly gunned —down by IDF troops. But an initial investigation indicates that their deaths were caused by an explosive device planted by the Palestinians. The photojournalists are a rather homogeneous bunch — hardly representative of an international press core. These are the names of the photographers and photojournalists from AP, Reuters and AFP who covered the action for the Palestinian side of the street in Gaza these past two weeks: Mohammed Salem, Suhaib Salem, Mohamed Azakir, Goran Tomasevic, Khalil Hamra, Adnan Hajj Ali, Nasser Nasser, Hussein Malla, Lefteris Pitarakis, Ahmed Khateib, Salah Malkawi, Abbas Momani, Said Khatib, Mohammed Abed, and Awad Awad.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice...

The major drawback of a propaganda campaign, of course, is that,once it is uncovered, the credibility of those behind it is shot.

Clarice Feldman

Update: Maybe David Letterman needs to add a feature on "stupid cloning tricks." Last year allies of the Venezuelan regime of Hugo Chavez pulled similar cloning stunt, as was noted by a Venezuelan blogger posted at Salon.com, in order to exaggerate the size of a crowd.

Obviously, it requires a real contempt for the public to think that such tricks will work. On the other hand, when supported by enablers in the major media, contemptuous of those who raise awkward questions, sometimes they get away with it, for awhile at least.

Ed Lasky

Update:

In the worldwide blogosphere, Mr. Green Helmet  is showing up everywhere directing the death tableaus. He is ubiquitous at death shots in Lebanon.Here is an example from Tyre today, posted by commenters at Eureferendum: In one, sans helmet and another with helmet from Tyre. One shot BTW is from the AP's Kevin Frayer, another member of the Qana gaggle, and the husband of CTV's ME bureau director. For more photos of Mr. Green Helmet, the uniquitous body snatcher, see EU Referendum.

Clarice Feldman

Update: Reuters has gone through a major downsizing and restructuring, and has seen its profits soar. Sales down by about a quarter, and profits up by a similar percentage in the last year. But some Wall Street analysts are not persuaded that the favorable trends will continue. Hoover's provides a good overview of the basic facts. 

Ed Lasky 

Update

A fairly complete review of the published work (almost 350 photos) of Mr. Adnan Hajj can be found here. Not the Reuters correction.

Update: Kirk Hoglund, who blogs at AJacksonian, proposes a set of guidelines for news agencies, now that we are well into the Photoshop era, where seeing is not necessarily believing:

1) Any given image *published* shall have its raw digital data made available freely for examination by the public. Do retouch and boost colors and such on the *published* image, but for the original, it must be left 'as is' with the entire metadata for that original image encoded.

2) All images shall have their metadata encoded with them. Most modern digital cameras give metadata as to camera type, make, model, f—stop and such like. Many others have further capabilities added into them to include date and time. All of that from the original image must be left INTACT along with that original image source.

3) GPS data coordinates and metadata associated with it, when captured, shall be included as part of (2) above.

4) When purchasing images from a photojournalist or anyone having taken images of an event, all images taken from all cameras by that individual shall be made freely available, even if not *used* for the actual storyline. These shall adhere to the first three, above. Copyright sharing with other media sources may be arranged and some small, but limited time to release given, say a few days, as most of these images are not 'newsworthy' but show veracity of the images used. Very few images ever become 'iconic' in stature, and most of those soon pass into the public domain by default at some point. Give the photojournalist time to shop pictures around, realize that they will be digitally duplicated at other sites that buy them.

5) All film processing, camera types and digital conversion shall also be covered with this, along with source of conversion.

There will be screams and hollerings over 4. This is the era of cheap storage. Get used to it. If you are in the news or factual reporting business and use images to depict a real—life scene, then demonstration of giving the utmost to make these images verifiable and truthful is necessary.

The era of easy acceptance of a photograph as the *actual* image of an event is now gone.

Update: Dan Riehl, compares two Hajj shoot — one of a guerilla and one of a fireman — and thinks the men are one and the same.

Also,

AP joins Reuters in the Lebanon Follies. Here are two pictures  by the two agencies, apparently of the same woman in the same garb on different days bewailing for the photographers the loss of her home(s).

Clarice Feldman

Update: Reuters has informed Adnan Hajj that they will not accept any more of his work. He is now identified as a "free lance photographer." The agency also notes

Hajj worked for Reuters as a non—staff freelance, or contributing photographer, from 1993 until 2003 and again since April 2005.

He was among several photographers from the main international news agencies whose images of a dead child being held up by a rescuer in the village of Qana, south Lebanon, after an Israeli air strike on July 30 have been challenged by blogs critical of the mainstream media's coverage of the Middle East conflict.

Reuters and other news organisations reviewed those images and have all rejected allegations that the photographs were staged. [emphasis added]

However, as Michelle Malkin pointed out, the Reuters website claims the following

"Our policy is to send news to our customers only after scrutiny by a group of production editors who ensure quality standards are maintained across all our news services. When we get something wrong, our policy is to be honest about errors and to correct them promptly and clearly."

Which begs the question of what kind of quality standards would allow a crudely Photoshopped picture to run? How is the review of the Qana pictures by Hajj any different from the scrutiny applied to the Beirut pictures by Hajj?

Since Reuters now acknowledges that it has been hoaxed, and in turn has hoaxed the world's media, doesn't it owe us a detailed explanation of its standards? Shouldn't the review of the Qana pictures be put into the hands of an independent panel of experts.

Shouldn't Charles Johnson  of Little Green Footballs be part of that independent review panel? After all, Reuters owes him a debt of gratitude for uncovering a mistake their own quality assurance standards were iunadequate to detect.

IF (and it must now be regarded as a serious question) Reuters is committed to supplying the world with truth rather than phony propaganda, Reuters must acknowledge the inadequacy of its standards. It must therefore immediately and thoroughly apply higher standards to all of the work it has published by Hajj, including the Qana pictures.

If Reuters continues to use its proven—inadequate internal procedures to vouch for the accuracy of it Qana pictures, thiose reassureances cannot be regarded as worthy of respect.

Thomas Lifson  8/6/06 3:20 PM PDT

Update: Sweetness & Light reports that the white shirted man in Qana carrying the dead child was widely reported by major media to be her father. A careful look through the Qana play act shoot, however, shows he seemed far too nonchalant at the dig for that claim to be real. On the other hand it is clear from other shots of his home, that he is a fervent Hezbollah supporter. 

Clarice Feldman  8/6/06 4:05 PDT

further thought from Clarice (4:20 PM): the white shirted man identified as father of the girl takes France's Channel 2 to his home. So what on earth was his "daughter" doing in the basement of the apartment building several hours after it was hit by the Israelis?

Update: Ace of Spades HQ debunks more suspicious Hajj photos. Great work here.

H/T Little Green Footballs   8/6/06 4:23 PM PDT

Update: Michelle Malkin has plenty of links here, and posts Hajj pictures and others now questioned, as the scandal deepens. She also links to Euphoric Reality, which has submitted the word "Reutered" to the Urban Doctionary.

Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report demonstrates that Hajj used Photoshop or similar program to "enhance" ("lie") about a picture of Israeli jets supposedly launching another cruel attack.

Powerline shows Reuters captioning the same building as being flatterened by two different Israeli air raids on Julyt 24 and August 5.

These other deceptions deepen the case for an outside investigation. Clearly, Hajj is not a lone rogue photgrapher. The problem at Reuters goes directly to the photo editor level, at a minimum, and maybe higher.

It is almost inconveivable to me that a professional photo editing staff could pass off the same buildings as galttened in raids two weeks apart.

8/7/06 3:40 AM PDT