December 18, 2006

Kathleen Carroll: Retract, and Step Down

I think it past time for senior executives of the Associated Press to step down for repeated failures of integrity and resposibility, and for violating so many of their organizations stated values and principles. The following is hardly a conclusive list of reasons that the AP should issue retractions and divest themselves of the failures of their senior leadership, but it is a start.

  • AP should apologize for running the initial story of six Sunni men being pulled from a mosque and burned alive based upon the testimony of a single source. AP should acknowledge that single-source information has long been considered unreliable by serious news organizations and they should apologize for breaking that cardinal rule of journalism.
  • AP should apologize for the multiple failures of reporting in the follow-up story, of which there were many, including:
    1. Using an embellished version of the same single-sourced account.
    2. AP should apologize for using the hearsay of an unverified secondary source as support for the primary account.
    3. AP should apologize for uncritically parroting the claims of multiple additional deaths made by the Association of Muslim Scholars, a group with suspected insurgent ties.
    4. AP should apologize for failing to check with official sources to verify the veracity of all the claims made above, plus;
    5. AP should apologize for utterly failing to check or even ask for any physical or photographic evidence to support claims which to this point, claimed four terrorist attacks on mosques and up to 24 deaths, including the 18 alleged killed at al-Muhaimin mosque, and the six men that our source claimed were pulled from a nameless mosque, doused in kerosene, and burned to death.
    6. AP should apologize for slandering the Iraqi Army, by uncritically repeating the charge that they stood by and did nothing as these terrorist attacks and murders were carried out, when we have no evidence to support that claim.
  • AP should apologize as well for the multiple failures of basic editorial fact-checking and source verification that led them to continuing failures of the basic application of journalistic principles in follow-up stories to the original, including:
    1. stating that these attacks did not end until U.S. forces became involved, despite the fact that a simple call to the MNF-I Public Affairs Office would have verified that no U.S. forces deployed to Hurriyah that or any other day, because Hurriyah is nota U.S area of responsibility.
    2. claiming by name that the Ahbab al-Mustafa, Nidaa Allah, al-Muhaimin and al-Qaqaqa mosques were attacked "with rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and automatic rifles," before being burned, without taking the very basic steps of verifying through official or secondary sources that these mosques were in fact attacked.
    3. AP should apologize for slandering the Iraq Police for insisting they did nothing to stop the alleged attacks as well.
  • AP should also apologize for attacking those who questioned all of these easily noticeable inconsistencies.
  • AP should apologize to their literally billions of readers that they failed, to which they have an obligation to report facts, not propaganda, and not a convenient "truthy" narrative.
  • AP should apologize to the U.S military for doubting their honor and integrity. When they put their names and reputations on the line, AP hid behind anonymous stringers and apparently false witnesses.
  • AP should apologize to the Iraqi Police, the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Ministries of Defense, Interior, and Health for slandering their employees.

I'm sure there are more specific apologies in order, including apologizes and promises to fix the AP's fatally-flawed stringer-based methods of reporting that have little to no editorial checks, and allows those with apparent insurgent ties to infiltrate and propagate false reports. AP executives should also issue apologies to the thousands of news organizations around the world that until now trusted the AP’s reporting, and internally, they should offer apologies to the overwhelming majority of honest journalists who work for the Associated Press around the world.

It will take months to rebuild the failed policies that led to the collapse of the AP's reporting efforts in Iraq, and double that time to implement those changes. Until these new methodologies are born out by time, the AP will have to suffer the loss of confidence that their flawed product created.

Of course, no error in judgement of this scale is complete without senior management acknowledging their failures.

If they truly care about the integrity of reporting in the Associated Press, Executive Editor Kathleen Carol should end her list of apologies and retractions with a resignation, as should AP international editor John Daniszewski.

Then—and only then—can we begin to look back through the 60 other stories to which Jamil Hussein was a source, and see whether any more of these accounts require retractions and apologies.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 18, 2006 03:20 PM | TrackBack

AP has frozen up like a deer in the headlights while the Blogosphere has taken charge of the situation quicker than Ripley did in Aliens. Kathleen Carol has been reqesting her troops to lay down suppressive fire with the flamers and fall back to secondary positions, not realizing that Sarge is dead and Hudson is getting the f*ck out of Dodge. GAME OVER!

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at December 18, 2006 03:49 PM


*pop* *pop*

*pop* *pop* *pop* *pop*

That's the sound of corks coming out of Champagne bottles ;->

Posted by: Purple Avenger at December 18, 2006 04:49 PM


It seems to me that the party issuing an apology, in order to make the words valuable and meaningful must have a conscience, self-reflection, honor, integrity, objectivity and no ulterior agenda.

Where in the world would the AP find those attributes?

A serial offender is not likely to inflict self-penance.

And as a card carrying member of the Code of Silence, the AP would be a pariah for letting the leftist media's slip show like this. Nope. Won't happen.

It will be buried in the want ad section, on page 18... and read something like, "we regret the error in misidentifying one our sources". And it will be buried by all the other cult members who adhere to the Code of Silence as well.

There will be no apology...because they don't believe in playing by your rules. Or my rules. Or anyone's rules. They make them up as they go along. Media anomy. It's the new reality.

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 18, 2006 05:29 PM

Not gonna happen, Bob, but excellent post anyway. I excerpted and linked at CENTCOM says AP’s "Iraqi police source" isn’t Iraqi police -- Part 20

Posted by: Bill Faith at December 18, 2006 08:44 PM

In honor of my upcoming birthday, I have decieded to start writing angry letters to the editor. I have since sent two emails to AP demanding the resignation of both Qais 'I see imaginary cops who see burning dead people' Al-Bashir and Kathleen 'Mad Blog Rabble Rouser' Carroll.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at December 19, 2006 09:18 AM

–They will simply DROP the story, as when they stopped talking about Qana, Red Cross bus ambulance “bombings”, Isreali attacks on UNIFIL, Burned Sunnis, etc.
– That means you WON
– I have never seen them admit to any significant falsehood, no matter how egregious
– They retract typos, and small errors
– E.G., Waiting for the MSM retract their inverted reporting of the US victory in the Vietnam Tet offensive, which they still describe as a defeat
– (Tet 1968, was key, because the US and South Vietnam DESTROYED the Viet Cong, leaving the war to the invading regular North Vietnam army. Thereafter, there were no significant populist socialist Vietnamese “resistance freedom fighters” left – only millions of Communist invaders, dying rapidly as the US and South Vietnamese won every significant battle)
– No one nailed the MSM hard enough, then or now, and they continue blithely falsifying Vietnam as a defeat, with Tet as a “turning point”

Posted by: DemocracyRules at December 20, 2006 02:31 AM