Photoshopping in the MSM

A different demimasque’s “Perceptions” – less philosophical but timely:

Well, if Jordan Eason’s letter put you off CNN’s veracity, we now have a Reuters admission that in its very blandness makes us doubt their sense of proportion: “photo editing software was improperly used on this image. A corrected version will immediately follow this advisory. We are sorry for any inconvience.” When speaking of the importance of their profession, few reporters consider shields of people or papers a mere “inconvenience.” Pajamas Media discusses “Reutersgate”; they have many, many updates, but Helen’s colleague, Richard, is seen as “taking point” in his Parallel Universe.” They also link to a pre-Qana essay from National Journal by Neil Munro, “Real or Fake”. Munro summarizes an earlier incident: “…the caption was wrong, the pose was staged, and the picture was, in essence, untrue.”

Our hearts are pulled by the death of a child. Terrorist propaganda counts on that (as did Saddam’s parade of baby coffins). Surely such a pull is a sign of a nation’s health. And it is also healthy to dismiss conspiracies. Megan McArdle’s response on Instapundit seemed commonsensical. After all, as Ralph Peters said (I hope this is close) on BookTV yesterday, “In the Middle East never blame on a vast and effective conspiracy what can be explained by passionate incompetence.”

But, we don’t like to be gulled. And the intensity of our reactions are often in relation to the intensity of our feelings – both from who betrays us, as well as how. If we are conned in a get rich quick scheme, we figure, hell, I should have known better – that person was using my greed. If we are betrayed by an employee who has been given trust & responsibility, we become mistrustful. The rules of war help maintain that trust – as do those of journalism.

I doubt these reporters & terrorists realize how profound the effect of these stories is – how much we feel betrayed. Looking at the news shortly after Qana, I saw a young, muscular, healthy man telling us he had been sitting & smoking in the doorway of the house when the bomb hit; he was not hurt, but the house full of women & children was demolished. I turned to my husband and said, this is a bit odd. Why wasn’t he hurt, why didn’t he run in? I have become suspicious. My husband turned to look at me, worried I’d become too cynical. And, indeed, the tragedy was a tragedy; children did die. No matter how much we may accept the necessity of death in the midst of war, our heart should, must, go out to such a child, to such parents.

But in the end, we are beginning to find that the reporters & those on the scene were abusing our sympathies. Sympathies abused are sympathies steeled. A civilization that doesn’t feel sorrow at the death of a child – even a child is on the other side in a war – is not healthy. It is also likely to feel fewer compunctions about unleashing powerful weapons.

After each betrayal, our trust lessens, trust of institutions that could be useful, could be important. Pajamas Media has some understandable triumphalism. But if we feel (and many of us do, often) betrayed by the msm, the ACLU, the international NGO’s, the UN, we, too, have lost.

9 thoughts on “Photoshopping in the MSM”

  1. Well, Ginny, I really liked this essay until the very last line. From where I sit in my couch in Wisconsin I DO beel betrayed by “the msm, the ACLU, the international NGO’s, the UN”. I would suspect many reading this feel the same way as I do. But that doesn’t mean that I have lost anything. I am just playing with the cards I have been dealt.

  2. I wrote about this a couple of months ago, here, about how the mainstream media had pissed away the enormous respect and credibility they had, once upon a time… say, between WWII and Watergate, and now we are reduced to reading between the lines, and parsing out tiny useful bits of fact, just as Russians had to do when reading Pravda, during the Cold War.

  3. Heck, I swear I did everything right for that link. Just go to and do a search for “debasing”. It’s the first thing that comes up. (Sorry) Really, the media has just about pissed away every shred of trust they used to have— after the Al Dura thing, and Eason Jordan trimming stories from Irag just to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open, Rathergate and all those horrible Katrina stories that turned out to be the worst sort of rumor… how can we trust these people?

    [Sgt. Mom: No problem, it’s fixed now. Thanks for all the info. JG]

  4. What Dan said. The last sentence is a wrong turn.

    I have not lost anything. Learning that you have been lied to does not mean you have lost anything. It means you have gained the truth and losing an illusion is a gain, not a loss. The MSM, for as long as I was aware of the news media, which as back into childhood, 30 years, was something I presumed was lying, slanted, biased when it came to politics. They were part of the apparatus that supported the liberals and Democrats, period. I have assumed for as long as I can remember that the the Democrat party and the media and the left-wing academy and the entertainment industry were one complex, allied in their worldview and aims, if not actually coordinative actively.

    The Dan Rather scam, which was coordinated with the Democratic National Committee to come out at the same time as the Donks’ “Fortunate Son” ad campaign, is only the one we caught them doing. I have assumed all my life that this kind of collusion against Republicans and Conservatives is going on. We will never know how much of it went on.

    I never had any sentimentality about Cronkite or any of those blowhards and frauds who compose our so-called “fourth branch”. I have always hated those people. Their destruction as a force in American life is something I am enjoying immensely. The faster and more completely it happens, the better.

  5. These organizations need a strong dose of humility & to develop some actual self-consciousness. Still, I don’t intend to fly off to Lebanon nor to listen to boring city council meetings – reporters who do cover these are doing a real service. Neither their ethics nor their understandings are going to be complete, but they can report honestly. Of course, they shouldn’t be given the bizarre privileges to declassify information & to hide sources they seem to mysteriously find in the Bill of Rights. They should stop thinking it is their duty to mold opinion & remember it is their duty to report.

    Organizations that track & publicize human rights abuses (often delving into the most unconnected of countries) have a worthy goal. I remember when the ACLU was better known for fighting censorship than defending NAMBLA. Its actions were ones libertarians applaud.

    Yes, I think losing our trust is bad for these institutions, but losing the institutions is bad for us. I’m not saying we should continue to prop all of them up – pretending to do something that should be done is worse. If some of these institutions die, perhaps something better will arise to meet real needs.

    CNN & Fox seem to be covering different Lebanons, different Iraqs. But that isn’t all that bad – we accept that bias may make a report not balanced, but still fair (acknowledging other points of view) and informative. What’s bad is the pretense that there is but one truth and all the bad journalism that led to these bogus stories.

  6. I was fortunate, in that as a child, some 4 decades ago, I chanced to be involved in a news-worthy event, and got to see the contrast between what I’d seen happen, what we’d described to the reporter, and what showed up in the newspaper. So I grew up not having any of those illusions about the media being accurate.

    Might have recovered from that incident, if I hadn’t gotten involved in Libertarian politics, and gotten a first class education in just how little interest the media have in correcting “mistakes” if they confirm their biases, and you’re not big enough to make a major stink about it. (Not getting much coverage was a pain, but being seamlessly edited out of existance, THAT was the outrage.)

    I’ve learned that they KNOW they’re not being accurate, and don’t care. Their job, as they see it, isn’t to inform us, it’s to guide us to the “correct” conclusions. Even if that sometimes requires leaving us ignorant, or even feeding us “facts” that aren’t true.

  7. “…losing the institutions is bad for us….”

    We won’t lose anything. There is a demand for news. If the corrupt entities that purvey ideologically tainted falsehoods as news go away, good. Other institutions will fill that niche.

Comments are closed.