Monday, May 17, 2010

5/13/10: HuffPost publishes another incendiary libel against the U.S. military (user hate-fest erupts: HuffPost: "Approved!!!")

Summary: Is the U.S. military really conducting systematic battlefield executions of Muslims in Afghanistan whom they know, or suspect are not Taliban --- but don't want to release? Of course not.

So why did HuffPost publish such an allegation, when the source of the story -- who's known for his false claims and conspiracy theories --- had not even a shred of proof upon which to base it? Especially when HuffPost claims that it explicitly prohibits conspiracy theories?

This is not an isolated incident, but merely the latest in a stream of smears and blood libels against the U.S. military that
that HuffPost has chosen to publish, even when it had reason to know that they were false or grievously decontextualized (1, 2, 3).

This all would not be so dangerous were it not for the fact that HuffPost
is the #1 blog on Earth, has an estimated 135,000 unique visitors per month from Iran and Pakistan (see Section 4.3 here), and is now one of America's top ten news sites. We at HUFF-WATCH are extremely concerned that HuffPost's malicious actions are going to result in one or more of our soldiers being injured or killed.

If you share our concerns, please see "(3) Action Item" in Part 2, to make your voice known --- or go directly here.

On May 13, 2010, HuffPost published an original story by its "World Editor,"
Nicholas Sabloff, which uncritically quoted Seymour Hersh's allegation that U.S. troops are carrying out systematic "battlefield executions" in Afghanistan. And as you can see below (note the scroll bar on right), HuffPost positioned this inflammatory story near the very top of its front page:
WATCH: Seymour Hersh Says US Troops Carrying Out 'Battlefield Executions' In Afghanistan


Upon what evidence does Hersh base this
incendiary, libelous conspiracy theory against the U.S. military?


Well, Hersh has no evidence whatsoever --- as is proven in the article itself. So what is the basis of his allegations? Here's Hersh's explanation (emphasis added):
What they've done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners you have, the detainees, are Taliban. You must extract whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic, long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they're Taliban, you must turn them free. What it means is, and I've been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place. Well, if they can't prove they're Taliban, bam. If we don't do it ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and by the time we walk three feet the bullets are flying. And that's going on now.

That's it.
That's the entire basis of Hersh's allegations: Unnamed sources who may or may not exist, and who may or may not be telling the truth. And it was upon that basis, of no substance, that HuffPost chose to run this story, as one of its top-line news items.

What would a responsible "Internet newspaper" have done? It would never have let this libel against our soldiers see the light of day. In recognition of American soldiers' honor and distinction, HuffPost would never give as much as one pixel of coverage to such a vicious, unproven smear against them --- especially one that could serve to incite more instances of "sudden jihad syndrome" (discussed below).

Wait... hasn't HuffPost claimed it prohibits inflammatory claims and conspiracy theories?

Yes it does. Here's Arianna Huffington, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of HuffPost, explaining her site's journalistic virtues and mission:

"[At HuffPost] there are guidelines that have to be followed -- and they include a prohibition on conspiracy theories and inflammatory claims..."
- Feb. 1, 2010

“[T]oo many reporters have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth, consequences be damned...
- July 29, 2008

“[W]e are increasingly seen ... as an Internet newspaper, not positioned ideologically in terms of how we cover the news.”
- May 22, 2009

And as reported by Gawker on March 9, 2010, HuffPost claims:
"[Our] editorial policy, laid out in our blogger guidelines, prohibits the promotion and promulgation of conspiracy theories."

As has been meticulously documented here at HUFF-WATCH, there are three groups against which HuffPost is perfectly willing to publish the most inflammatory claims and conspiracy theories --- even with no evidence, or that the evidence contradicts: the U.S. military, conservative groups and individuals, and Israel and Jews.

And regarding inept editing and journalistic standards, here's how one of HuffPost's top "reporters," Jason Linkins,
lashed out (justifiably) at another "Internet newspaper" just a few months ago:
In short, the facts Corsi obtained torpedo the premise of his piece, which, I remind you, is that the "shooter advised [the] Obama transition." Were this being written for a responsible journalistic entity, some creature called an "editor" would have stepped in and said, "Hey, Jerome, you realize that by your own findings, you article is complete horseshit, right?" But this is World Net Daily, written by and for complete charlatans.


So what was knowable about Seymour Hersh at the time HuffPost made the decision to publish his baseless smear against the U.S. military?


Is this the first time Hersh proved to make wild accusations without a shred of proof, or to twist and deny the truth? Well, as the Hertz commercials go...
not exactly:
[After denying it, facts now show] Sy Hersh did claim Cheney ran “an executive assassination ring"
- Hot Air, May 19, 2009

Sy Hersh Says It’s Okay to Lie (Just Not in Print)
- New York Magazine, May 21, 2005

"The Iranian regimes apparent nuclear ambitions and its demonstrated support for terrorist organizations is a global challenge that deserves much more serious treatment than Seymour Hersh provides in the New Yorker article titled The Coming Wars. Mr. Hersh's article is so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed."
- U.S. Department of Defense press release, January 17, 2005

"Hersh's Israel-bashing is so egregious it gives yellow journalism a bad name."
- Jerusalem Post, March 6, 1992

"Former Attorney General John Mitchell, a major source for Hersh's book 'The Price of Power,' said that 'almost every episode or statement on Kissinger ascribed to him by Hersh [was] a distortion, an exaggeration, a misinterpretation, or an expletive-deleted lie'."
- National Review, June 24, 1983

At this point, a few more questions arise:
  • Is it even possible that Nicholas Sabloff, HuffPost's "World Editor," who wrote this "news" story, didn't know of Hersh's history? That's pretty unlikely, being that he is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Or is "Fact-Checking 101" no longer part of the requirements for graduation?

  • Is there any conceivable way that HuffPost's crack team of 52 other editors could not have known all this, if it had done even the most basic fact-checking, prior to or after seeing this inflammatory headline?

Perhaps someday, someone in a position of influence will ask HuffPost to answer these questions --- especially given how it has repeatedly
claimed to be a nonpartisan source of "news." Perhaps they will also ask HuffPost why it has a pattern of smearing the U.S. military on bogus grounds...


Is this the first time HuffPost has decided to smear the U.S. military?


Rather than being an isolated incident, however, this is merely the latest example of HuffPost's pattern of publishing incendiary libels against the U.S. military, which it should have known, or had reason to know, are untrue:
4/5/10: HuffPost falsely smears the U.S. military, again; User hate-fest erupts (HuffPost: "Approved!!!")
In this incident, HuffPost uncritically published blaring headlines claiming that the U.S. military engages in "collateral murder." Yet even after numerous sources --- including Stephen Colbert, whom it covers on a regular basis --- debunked these allegations, HuffPost refused to even acknowledge those who rose to the defense of our soldiers, against this smear. It then allowed users to engage in a hate-fest of libels against our soldiers.

5/4/09: The HuffPost-alJazeera alliance: Fomenting (and approving) anti-U.S. military, anti-Christian propaganda, hate and libels
HuffPost uncritically published an al-Jazeera generated story, implying that the U.S. military was distributing bibles to American soldiers in Afghanistan, with orders to proselytize to civilians. Turns out that one American church sent bibles to a soldier in Afghanistan --- and when the military found out about it, intervened before a single bible could be distributed. HuffPost also allowed a hate-fest to erupt among readers, against our soldiers, Christianity, and America in general.

SPECIAL REPORT: HuffPost's Protection Of Blood Libels Against The U.S. Military
HuffPost knowingly enabled and protected an egregious violator of its policies to repeatedly post phony pictures on all its top news threads, allegedly showing American soldiers sexually torturing Muslim women and children, which he claimed is a matter of their "standard operating procedure." When a HUFF-WATCH operative attempted to expose these photos as fakes --- using facts and hard evidence --- HuffPost repeatedly blocked his comments, then banned him. Most recently, HuffPost made the anti-U.S. military propagandist an official "Community Moderator," in charge of policing other users' comments.

Here are some more articles that document HuffPost's pattern of bias against, and disrespecting the U.S. military:
4/15/10: U.S. military contractor deaths surge; users erupt in hate-fest (HuffPost: "Approved!!!")

4/8/10: Captured by the Taliban --- and dissed by HuffPost

12/30/09: CIA officers murdered in Afghanistan; users erupt with hate and libels (HuffPost: "Approved!!!")

9/4/09: HuffPost essentially tells dead Marine's family, "F*&$ off, we're using your son's dying picture as our headline, over your objections"


What kind of readership and influence does HuffPost have?
A lot --- of both.


Some casual political observers say, "Oh, who even reads HuffPost, or believes anything it says?" and, "HuffPost is a blog --- not a 'news' operation!"

The facts, which many find both surprising and disturbing, are that:

Given these facts, regardless of how one feels about it, HuffPost has clearly become a powerful, influential part of both the "news" media and the political blogosphere.


Continue to Part 2 of this article to read:
(1) Why HuffPost's actions against the U.S. military may end up getting American soldiers killed --- if it hasn't already

(2) So what kinds of user comments did HuffPost review, approve and decide to publish, in response to this incitement?

(3) Action item: How to make your voice known


No comments:

Post a Comment