Wednesday, October 31, 2007

TIME Decapitated

The current issue of TIME magazine is on the streets with a major analysis of the situation in Iraq, "Has The Surge Reached Its Limits?" Reporter Mark Kukis spends 630 words supporting his conclusion that

"(t)he prognosis for Iraq, barring a dynamic transformation on the part of the Iraqi government very soon, is grimly apparent. As U.S. forces lessen their presence in the coming months, killings of the kind seen Monday in Diyala will persist there and most likely spread to areas calmed by the increase of U.S. forces."
Unfortunately, the news hook on which Mr. Kukis based his story and pegged his analysis is… completely and utterly false. His lead paragraph:
The horrible discovery in Diyala Province Monday was disturbing even by the standards of Iraq's running sectarian violence. Iraqi police said they found 20 decapitated bodies dumped near a police station west of Baquba, the capital of Diyala province. That same day a suicide bomber on a bicycle careened into a Baquba police station, killing 29.
His second paragraph leveraged the untruth as far as he could possibly take it
The violence was of course nothing new, especially for the Baquba area, which remains the most troubled region in Iraq outside Baghdad. But the bloodshed showed how the success of the surge of U.S. forces in Baghdad and Anbar Province nine months on has perhaps gone as far as it can toward controlling Iraq's violence.
The only problem? There were no 20 decapitated bodies dumped near a police station. There were no bodies of any sort. None. Nada. Not a one. The Iraqi police deny ever reporting otherwise. There are no bodies at hospitals or in morgues. There are no photos. There are no witnesses. There are no supporting statements from anyone.

The story was made up out of whole cloth. The question remaining open, which TIME needs to answer, hopefully more swiftly than has The New Republic with its false-story reporting by Scott Thomas Beauchamp, is who made up the story?

Was it Mr. Kukis, who is allegedly stationed in Baghdad? Or is he just an additional victim of his negligent reporting?

Are our schools of journalism now offering majors in fabulism for folks who wish to go on to major news organizations as reporters? Do they teach classes in making up news for slow days?

Who is TIME using for fact-checking these days, Mrs. Beauchamp from The New Republic?

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