MSM has been relying on questionable Iraq sources for information regarding Shia/Sunni violence

Curt at Flopping Aces has done an outstanding job on getting to the bottom of some recent questionable reporting coming from the Associated Press on a story that alleged that 6 Sunni civilians had been burned alive last week during a wave of sectarian violence.

I linked up to his original post on the issue Saturday, and since then he has posted numerous updates that are must-reads, including this announcement from CENTCOM:

Dear Associated Press,

On Nov. 24, 2006, your organization published an article by Qais Al-Bashir about six Sunnis being burned alive in the presence of Iraqi Police officers. This news item, which is below, received an enormous amount of coverage internationally.

We at Multi-National Corps – Iraq made it known through MNC-I Press Release Number 20061125-09 and our conversations with your reporters that neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. A couple of hours ago, we learned something else very important. We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team.

Also, we definitely know, as we told you several weeks ago through the MNC-I Media Relations cell, that another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city’s Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP. The MOI has supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning.

Jeff Goldstein, as usual, nails it:

For those who continue to suggest that the mainstream press has a negligible impact on elections, consider that the majority of Americans who bothered to pay any attention whatsoever to this story will be left with an account of horrific sectarian violence against women and children—and the belief that sectarian strife in Iraq is not only inexorable and savage, but pandemic.

Underlying this reportage, then, is an unseemly subtext: that Arabs in Iraq—and perhaps even Arabs in general—are incapable of working toward a free society, one that, through a series of ratified political documents and elections, has merely pretended to be taking its first tentative steps toward the acceptance of a baby pluralism. Consequently, the blood and treasure spent in Iraq has never been worth the cost, and—our failure now all but imminent thanks to a genetic or systemic flaw in the Arab constitution—we should be therefore be looking for a way to retreat with honor. Or perhaps a way to reinstall Saddam Hussein. You know, to stabilize things.

Whether this narrative is the product of willful distortion or merely the laziness that comes with being fed stories that match your preconceptions is almost beside the point when it comes to effect—though the former is clearly more despicable, and, should it prove to be the case, has the practical effect of undermining a representative democracy that can only work properly if citizens are being given accurate accountings of events by those purporting to do so.

This is major. Just how many other Shia/Sunni violence stories which have been reported by the MSM are questionable, too? And how many other questionable “sources” are the MSM using on other stories about what’s happening in Iraq?

Does the MSM feel any responsiblity towards its readers for accurate reporting anymore?

Read more via Patterico, who is kicking bootie on this story as well.

See also: Michelle Malkin, Allah

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