I’ve been following with fascination (thanks to a lead from Michelle Malkin) the high-horse moralizing of Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher, as he’s tried to defend the media elite for using doctored news photographs designed to make Israel look like a genocidal rogue-nation in its bombing campaign against Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon. Mitchell naturally blames “right-wing bloggers” for having the nerve to bring the faux-tography to the public’s attention. Here’s a sample of Mitchell’s self-righteous ire, published on Tuesday, Aug. 22:
“Often, the allegations of bogus photos amounts to nothing more than this: Showing, say, one picture of a badly-damaged car in Lebanon next to another shot of a totally destroyed auto, both said to be hit by Israeli bombs. Aha! Obviously the one that was only badly-damaged must have gotten wrecked in some other way. The possibility that one vehicle suffered a direct hit and the other a glancing blow — or that different Israeli missiles were used — apparently does not occur to these people.”
Sure, the Israelis dropped two tiny bombs, and one of them hit one car on the nose while the other one glanced off the other car. Next photo, please, Greg?
Then, on Friday, Aug. 25, blogger Confederate Yankee reported he had discovered a May 2003 column in which Mitchell admitted that he’d once done a bit of news-doctoring of his own:
“Back when I worked for the Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette), our city editor asked me to find out what tourists thought about an amazing local event: Engineers had literally ‘turned off’ the famous cataracts, diverting water so they could shore up the crumbling rock face. Were visitors disappointed to find a trickle rather than a roar? Or thrilled about witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime stunt?
“Oh, I went down to the falls, all right, but when I got there, I discovered that I just could not wander up to strangers (even dorky ones wearing funny hats and knee socks) and ask them for their personal opinions, however innocuous. It was a puffball assignment, but that wasn’t why I rebelled. I just could not bring myself to do it.
“So I sat on a park bench and scribbled out a few fake notes and then went back to the office and wrote my fake story, no doubt quoting someone like Jane Smith from Seattle, honeymooning with her husband Oscar, saying something like, ‘Gosh, I never knew there was so much rock under there!'”
The next thing that happened, Confederate Yankee reports, was that when he checked again on Saturday, Aug. 26, that very same May 2003 column seemed to have undergone bit of, uh, doctoring, because it read like this:
“Back in 1967, when I was 19 and worked for the Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette) as a summer intern, our city editor asked me to find out what tourists thought about an amazing local event: Engineers had literally ‘turned off’ the famous cataracts, diverting water so they could shore up the crumbling rock face. Were visitors disappointed to find a trickle rather than a roar? Or thrilled about witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime stunt?”
Note the heartstrings-tugging changes: the age of “19,” the year “1967” (so long ago!), the “summer intern”-ship. In other words, Mitchell was just a baby college kid practically on his first assignment when he made up his story–so why was the “right-wing” blogosphere picking on him?
And today, if you click onto the latest version of Mitchell’s May 2003 column, you get this:
“CORRECTION, August 27, 2006: Several readers of the 2003 story below have informed us that the water flowing over Niagara Falls was turned off in June 1969, not in 1967, as the article below stated. We have corrected or deleted that date and Mitchell’s age where they appeared in this column. Mitchell worked at the Gazette in the summers of 1968 and 1969 before graduating from college in 1970. The incident recounted below occurred in his second summer at the paper, not in the first, as the original had it.”
Well! Kind of reminds me of that photograph of those Lebanese cars next to each other, one badly damaged….