Media Blog

NYT’s Own Reporting Left Out of NYT’s CENTCOM vs. AP Analysis

Tom Zeller of the New York Times follows up on some of the blogging he’s been doing about the CENTCOM vs. AP dispute with a “pox on both their houses” story that takes a lot of digs at conservative bloggers. But as Allah points out, Zeller fails to mention that the NYT’s own reporting on the story casts doubt on the AP’s version. Here’s an e-mail from NYT correspondent Ed Wong that he posted on his blog last week:

Hi Tom,

You ask me about what our own reporting shows about this incident. When we first heard of the event on Nov. 24, through the A.P. story and a man named Imad al-Hashemi talking about it on television, we had our Iraqi reporters make calls to people in the Hurriya neighborhood. Because of the curfew that day, everything had to be done by phone. We reached several people who told us about the mosque attacks, but said they had heard nothing of Sunni worshippers being burned alive. Any big news event travels quickly by word of mouth through Baghdad, aided by the enormous proliferation of cell phones here. Such an incident would have been so abominable that a great many of the residents in Hurriya, as well as in other Sunni Arab districts, would have been in an uproar over it. Hard-line Sunni Arab organizations such as the Muslim Scholars Association or the Iraqi Islamic Party would almost certainly have appeared on television that day or the next to denounce this specific incident. Iraqi clerics and politicians are not shy about doing this. Yet, as far as I know, there was no widespread talk of the incident. So I mentioned it only in passing in my report.

The article also doesn’t address the issue at the center of this story: the use of unverified sources like “police captain” Jamil Hussein, who according to CENTCOM is not a real Iraqi police officer. To read this article, you would think that the only dispute is over whether this particular attack actually happened. Zeller neglects the larger issue of certain reporters relying on sources who don’t appear to be who they say they are.