This is Joshua Wehner's archaic Blog

Bogus Baghdad Photo & Blaming the Messenger?

Is the media lying about the state of Iraq? I don't know, but Howard Kaloogian did. From Editor &: Publisher, a newspaper trade magazine:

How far will critics of media coverage of the Iraq war go to prove reporters are wrongly focusing on the negative?

One answer came this week, in a shocking if amusing episode featuring one Howard Kaloogian, a leading Republican running for the seat in Congress recently vacated by indicted Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Kaloogian posted on the official Web site for his campaign a picture taken in "downtown Baghdad," he said, during his visit to the city, which supposedly indicated that the media was wrong about the level of violence there.

"We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq," he wrote. "Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism."


Tipped off by someone who recognized the actual intersection in Turkey, Jem went through online photo galleries and in a matter of minutes today found a snap taken by a "Faruk" that lined up with the "Baghdad" photo in numerous conclusive ways. Game, set, and match to the blogosphere.

But that's not all...

Here's Kaloogian's response:

"My campaign mistakenly mislabeled a photograph as being from Baghdad, Iraq when it is in fact from Istanbul, Turkey. Immediately after I realized this error I had the photograph replaced with one we took from Baghdad.

"I made a mistake in posting the wrong picture, and I accept full responsibility for it.

"However, the anti-war activists who are supporting Democrat Francine Busby are trying to use this clerical mistake as justification for opposing the war. How silly.

"I will not apologize for supporting the missions our troops are serving in Iraq.

"I will not apologize for traveling to Iraq to afford our troops the opportunity to report back home the progress being made that is not being reported by the mainstream news media.

"I will not back down from supporting the mission our troops are serving in Iraq to defeat the terrorist threat. By bringing stability, democracy and freedom to the people who were long terrorized by the brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, and eliminating safe havens for terrorists, we are ensuring American security at home.

"And, most importantly, I will not allow Francine Busby, her "Blame America First" friends, and the anti-military contingent to undermine America's support for our military men and women and their mission in Iraq."

Ummm... So, his campaign made a mistake, but it's his opponent's fault? Somehow?

Permalink • Posted in: blogs, politics, wordsComments (4)


Parmeter Mar 31, 2006

Yes, well, it is sad to say that politics has gotten to the point where taking personal responibility and owning up to errors and faults is considered a weakness. Blame the "must-have-it-now" mentaility in corporate media but showing any sign of weakness is often used by the opposing side as an opening for attack. So it doesn't surprise me that he attempts to shifts the blame to another party. I am slightly surprised that he picked his opponent and not some underling/intern who was "overzealous" in the posting of the picture.

Joshua Apr 1, 2006


Given that I was, for a time, part of the mainstream media, I'm a bit averse to giving them too much credit for unwholesome cultural trends.

In grad school (for, ya know, "journalism") I started calling this the "robots and martians problem" - as in, "the media" aren't a bunch of robots & martians...

What I'm saying is, watch out that you don't go so far on blaming the media, when it's the culture that's the root cause of both.

American media and American politics got where it is because of Americans, nothing less.

Parmeter Apr 5, 2006

It's taken me a few days to try to figure out how to put my thoughts together on this. Even at that I find them somewhat lacking, still.

American media and American politics got where it is because of Americans, nothing less.

Except here we get into a "chicken and egg" problem. Which came first? A public that wanted sensationalist headlines every single day or an industry attempting to shock people to pay attention to them even if the shocking thing wasn't important?

If you haven't seen the Frontline The Merchants of Cool you need to. I got an eyefull of how well engineered our collective "culture" has become.

No. The "Media" are not a bunch of robots or martians cranking out the news, music, and politics every day but at the same time they have to be somewhat complicit if not actively engaged with the same people who are responible for these things if they are to get the news, music and politics out there. And it is that which triggers my bullshit alarm every time.

Perhaps I simply have grown too cynical for my own good.

Joshua Apr 5, 2006

I don't know; I can maybe see a case being made for Media having role X, or responsibility Y, but I disagree with the X and Y you're ascribing here.

The American media and political economies are entirely popularity-driven (ratings / polls / sales / whatever). If sensationalism were un-popular, NPR would be the highest rated news outlet.

It ain't.

"Crazy car drives into a mailbox" will beat the serious news every day because that's what the majority of Americans want to watch.

For me, that settles any "chicken meets egg" issues.