April 30, 2007

Redstate Conspiracy Theorizing Conclusively Debunked

Last week I confronted RedState blog for a post by "streiff" attempting to say that they had a photo of an American GI "flipping off" an Associated Press photojournalist by the name of Maya Alleruzzo. Another Redstate contributor, "Thomas," went on further to claim that the picture in question was PhotoShopped.

Neither claim was true.

This is the photo in question:


The caption that ran with the photo at the time stated:

Staff Sgt Patrick Lockett 25, of Huntsville Alabama of Alpha Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division patrols in Al Kargoulia, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Baghdad, Iraq, Fri., April 20, 2007. The 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division is back in Iraq for the third time since rolling into Baghdad in 2003. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

The caption incorrectly cites Lockett as a Staff Sgt, when he is actually a SFC, but that is a much more trivial matter. What does matter is that Redstate never issued a correction for their false claim, even when I sent them an email alerting them to my previous post, which clearly shows an CY-enhanced photo showing that the finger shown is actually SFC Lockett's trigger or index finger.


Clearly, Lockett was not "flipping off" the AP photographer.

Over the weekend I got in touch with MAJ Joseph (Joe) R. Sowers, 3rd HBCT/3rd ID Public Affairs Officer, who contacted the soldier in the picture, Lockett, directly.

Lockett clearly states:

In the picture, it is my trigger finger outside of my trigger well. I would never give a reporter, nor any Iraqi citizen, a middle finger. I am more professional than that. I am a SFC in the United States Army and proud of what I do.

Now that SFC Lockett himself unequivocally supported what the enhanced photo clearly shows, will "streiff" and "Thomas" at Redstate have the common decency to apologize for their incorrect claims and issue either a correction or a retraction? I certainly hope so. Their credibility hangs in the balance.

As for the Associated Press photojournalist, Lockett's commanding officer, COL Wayne Grigsby, had this to say:

In my opinion, Maya Alleruzzo is an excellent photojournalist who accurately portrayed the Sledgehammer Soldier executing his duties to standard, to include, his weapon on safe and his finger outside the trigger well.

Maya Alleruzzo is an excellent representation of the media. Her efforts allowed us to showcase the outstanding work of our great young Soldiers that we would otherwise have not been able to do. We consider her an honorary member of the Sledgehammer Team. We would welcome her back in the brigade at any time.

Journalists make mistakes. So do bloggers. The only way for any of us to maintain our credibility is to admit those mistakes, and attempt to correct the record.

I hope that Redstate will therefore correct their claims regarding SFC Lockett and photographer Maya Alleruzzo. They unfairly attacked the professionalism of SFC Lockett, and misrepresented the esteem with which the 3rd Heavy holds Alleruzzo, apparently for their own amusement.

Faced with the facts, Redstate should do the right thing and correct their inaccurate, defamatory post.

Update Mike Krempasky just discovered that the general comments form at Redstate has apparently been down for at least a week, which is why no one there got or responded to my messages.

Erick's response, on Redstate, however, is sad; a non-apology apology, blaming everyone else.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 30, 2007 10:06 AM

Yawn. Bummer. I would have totally flipped the photographer off.

Posted by: The Fastest Squirrel at April 30, 2007 02:00 PM

Yep. Come clean, take your lumps.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at April 30, 2007 03:39 PM

Good trigger discipline and good muzzle discipline. Well trained soldier.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at April 30, 2007 04:03 PM

CY - I've been looking through my email from a note from you, my apologies, but I haven't followed this at all.

Posted by: Krempasky at April 30, 2007 04:28 PM

"Well trained soldier"

He's an E-7, a senior non-commissioned officer in the top three. He's a professional leader of men (and women) He's concentrating on what his troops are doing and his mission and trying to keep everyone alive. He probably didn't even give the photographer a second glance after he determined he posed no (immediate) threat

Posted by: E9 RET at April 30, 2007 04:31 PM

I'm in the school photo business, and we see this kind of stuff all the time. Sometimes what you think you see ain't at all what you see.

Posted by: dkbaby at April 30, 2007 04:41 PM

"Thomas," went on further to claim that the picture in question was PhotoShopped

No, I did not. I'm not going to apologize for something I didn't say. What I did say was,

Greetings to our lurking moonbats! For your information, this highly photoshopped photo is directly courtesy of the Associated Press. That's right: You caught us. We put a deep mole into the AP so we could arrange to have a photo altered to show some kid flipping the photographer off -- and then our second mole passed it along to the wire service. Great, great, great is our power.

Now, I suppose this might mean that I literally meant that the photo was photoshopped; or, in the alternative -- and I think anyone who reads this carefully, especially the sentences that follow, would think this -- I was being sarcastic (hence, the "deep mole" at the AP).

However, I'm into conciliation, so: I apologize if I was too dry.

NB: I'm a Director at RedState. I never received any email from you, through the Contact Form or through my personal email address.

Posted by: Thomas at April 30, 2007 04:51 PM

Sometimes people get too invested in their words. You both write good stuff and it's time to move on...

Posted by: E9 RET at April 30, 2007 05:22 PM
Sometimes people get too invested in their words. You both write good stuff and it's time to move on..
Yeah, yeah, blah, blah. It's time to move on after the Redstate folks acknowledge the error that CY pointed out.

He's not "invested in his words." Would I be "invested in my words" for pointing out the sun sets in the west to somebody broadcasting that it sets in the east?

Are you "too invested in your words" when you start blabbering on about people being "invested in their words?"

There is accuracy, and there is error. I certainly do hope those who believe in the first remain invested in that belief, as well as remaining invested in the notion that accuracy is more to be valued than error, and that the two are not equivalent.

Posted by: Bill Quick at April 30, 2007 05:50 PM what

Posted by: ScoutAZ at April 30, 2007 07:11 PM

Thomas, perhaps someone else is deleting these comments, both of which have been forwarded to Krempasky (I'd checked the "send me a copy" option).

Erick's non-apology apolgy is nice. Very John Kerry.

The "he did it first!" excuse doesn't work past first grade. It's called "accountability," kids.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 30, 2007 07:53 PM

The point is not "he did it first," the point is that we posted a photograph which was provided by two presumably reliable sources. Upon viewing the same photograph, literally everyone who saw it assumed that it showed a soldier flipping off a cameraman - in fact, the initial reaction was not that the picture did *not* show the Hawaiian good luck sign, the accusation was that we photoshopped it.

So, yeah, we passed along a photo, which we got from someone else (in this case, directly from the AP), and *invited people to draw inferences* from it. It turns out that those inferences were incorrect, and we've indicated that on the front page. But I frankly don't see why an *apology* would be in order for passing along a photograph which by all concessions was accurate and inviting people to draw a reasonable inference from it (which was indeed the near universal inference to everyone who saw the photo, even without our prompting, which is why the AP yanked the photo shortly after posting it - the reasonable assumption here is that even *they* assumed that it contained an obscene gesture).

In other words, you couldn't make out a basic case of negligence here, which is the lowest level of culpability. Therefore, an apology would not be warranted. A correction is, and that's been provided. Why this is "John Kerry" is beyond me.

Posted by: Leon Wolf at April 30, 2007 08:23 PM

P.S. I am *very* offended that vanderbilt dot edu is in your site's spam filter. :-)

Posted by: Leon Wolf at April 30, 2007 08:24 PM

Thomas, perhaps someone else is deleting these comments, both of which have been forwarded to Krempasky (I'd checked the "send me a copy" option).

I have no idea what you mean. Do you mean emails you sent? Erick is lead dog over there these days; direct any concerns to him. If you mean "Contact Form" submissions, they don't get deleted before hitting our collective inboxes. Erick informs me that we've had problems with that lately; maybe they were lost in queue.

As to the rest:

(1) I accept your apology for misconstruing my words.

(2) I'm so glad you like Erick's work. Perhaps you might consider that He did it first! has a specific meaning, outside the scope of that you seem to give it.

Posted by: Thomas at April 30, 2007 08:25 PM

As a Huntsville Resident raised in NYC, I was hoping he was flipping off the AP on behalf of all Americans. It is a universal sign of disgust of a failed news reporting agency. AP is just the brainwashing arm of the DNC.

Posted by: Karen at May 1, 2007 09:00 AM

AP deserves more than just the finger. Perhaps leaving them alone in the desert. They wouldn't truth if it hit them in the face.

Posted by: Joe Pane at May 1, 2007 10:41 AM

Jesus, Bob, take a breather! You got housed by RedState. Time to move on and find another obsession. Hey, that lady wants to buy an orange whistle...

Posted by: ts at May 1, 2007 03:20 PM

What amuses me is no one tried this on their own weapons to see if it could be done.

I did and it can't.

Posted by: austin at May 1, 2007 06:38 PM