In a Photo Finish, it’s the Corporate Media by a Nose

When everyone gets to be a critic, everything is going to get criticized. So it is that conservative blogs have raised a hue and cry about the Associated Press’ Pulitzer Prize, awarded earlier this week for its pictures of combat in Iraq.

As it turns out, according to some righty blogs, taking photos of Americans in wartime amounts to treason (unless, of course, those photos are flattering pictures of happy Iraqis throwing flowers at the feet of the troops, though those tend to be in short supply these days). The Jawa Report claims that one of the AP’s photos of insurgents in Falluja “has no other explanation than that of the AP photographer being privy to the highest ranks of the insurgency. The Pulitzer Prize was, in fact, given to an organization that has information, ties, and serves the propaganda purposes of terrorists.”

Here’s the kicker: “Aiding the enemy in a time of war is treason. The AP, an American non-profit organization, is guilty of that crime.” Even better are some of the readers’ comments. Someone by the name of Carlos weighs with this carefully reasoned analysis: “So when [journalists] are incidentally killed by U.S. troops during combat, justice is being served.”

If there was a Pulitzer for blogs, we’re guessing The Jawa Report wouldn’t win.

Riding Sun, meanwhile, looks at the 20 winning photos and complains that they show only scenes of death and carnage, and that there are no photos showing “U.S. forces looking heroic; U.S. forces helping Iraqi civilians; Iraqis expressing support for U.S. forces or Iraqis expressing opposition to insurgents.” We’re all for cheery pictures, but pictures of people “expressing support” might not be the kind of dangerous, newsworthy, on-the-fly material that wins awards.

Despite the fact that we’re deep into the media’s popeapalooza coverage cycle, we’re forced today to revisit last month’s big morbid media event: the passing of Terri Schiavo. The blogosphere is in danger of choking on crow this morning as news that the infamous Republican “Schiavo memo,” as reported by the Washington Post’s Mike Allen, is real, and not a Democratic trick, as many had claimed. (Yesterday, the legal counsel to Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez admitted authorship of the memo, which cites “the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo.”)

Ankle Biting Pundits expresses some contrition, admitting that “we were wrong,” about the memo possibly being a new Rathergate for the Dems.

Not all bloggers are ready to admit as much, however, and are spinning their mistake as fast as they can. Jim Geraghty, at the National Review Online’s “The Kerry Spot” (time to change the name, guys?) sees the whole memo scandal as a rare issue in which both the mainstream media and bloggers deserve some praise:

To the credit of the Washington Post’s Mike Allen and the mainstream media reporters who insisted it was a GOP memo, the author was a Republican, Brian Darling, legal council to Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida … It does not appear to have been a Democratic dirty trick, as many bloggers speculated.

To the credit of the skeptical bloggers, to say that this memo was authored by ‘party leaders’ is stretching the term beyond recognition. And stating that it was distributed to all GOP senators sounds just wrong, it appears it was just given by Darling to Martinez.

Also at NRO, Tim Graham uses the occasion to bash — you guessed it — the liberal media:

The real lesson of the Schiavo memo is this: to the liberal media, every piece of internal Republican communication is potential news meat, especially if it can be used to make Republicans look bad … Every internal Democratic memo leak is clearly a Republican plot that should not see the light of day. The Washington Post and assorted other liberal apple-polishers may have accuracy on their side on this one, but they don’t have balance.

As for us, we’ll take accuracy over ignorant speculation any day.

Paul McLeary

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.