Monday, April 14, 2008

We know the New York Times makes up the narrative on Iraq; now they're making up quotes too

If you want to know what's really going on in Iraq, rather than having your news spun, cherry-picked or just plain made up by the MSM, then in addition to the obvious sources such as Michaels Yon and Totten you should check out Talisman Gate, the blog of Iraqi scholar Nibras Kazimi.

Kazimi, who has family, friends and other contacts on the ground in Baghdad and elsewhere, takes great delight in dissecting the US media's Iraq reporting, and in particular that of the New York Times.

In a recent post Kazimi mocked the Times' Baghdad bureau chief Jamie Glanz's continuing portrayal of the recent violence in Basra and elsewhere as a spectacular defeat for Prime Minister Maliki. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, says Kazimi,

Glanz still has the gall to write, and write, and write: “…the badly coordinated push into Basra…”, “…the Mahdi Army stopping Mr. Maliki’s Basra assault cold…”, “…Mr. Maliki’s military operation in Basra foundered against Mahdi resistance…”, and “…the military ‘fiasco’ of his Basra adventure.” How is that?

It seems that Glanz hopes that by repeating something often enough, he can magically make it real.

Most interestingly, Kazimi presents evidence that suggests Glanz is at best a careless reporter, and is at worst making up quotes to suit the stories he's determined to file:

To authenticate such stretches, Glanz cites a single source to firm up his diagnosis:

Reflecting that calculus of power on the streets, Amal Mosa, a 28-year-old computer systems worker in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, said, “I think Maliki and America are more powerful than JAM, but Maliki alone would be smashed by it,” referring to the Mahdi Army by its Arabic acronym.
There is something very fishy about this quote, since there is no “Arabic acronym” for the Mahdi Army. It is either referred to in Arabic as jaish almahdi, jaish alimam, or jama’at alsadr. “JAM” is an acronym invented by the U.S. military and is never used by speakers of Iraqi Arabic. I don’t want to accuse Glanz of fabricating a quote, but even if this error is somehow passed on to Glanz’s interpreter then it would seem doubtful that Glanz, who boasted in his Op-Ed over the weekend that he can speak some Arabic, would not have caught this error while in translation or not figured out that it was quite weird for a native speaker to employ American terminology.

Kazimi stops short of accusing Glanz of making up the quote, but given the bias that's prevalent in Glanz's reporting, I suspect he's being overly charitable.

No comments: