The AP in cahoots with terrorists? Try again

A blogger debunks fellow right-wingers' conspiracy theory that an AP photographer -- now a Pulitzer Prize-winnning one -- colluded with terrorists in Iraq.

Published April 6, 2005 7:53PM (EDT)

It's so refreshing when someone on the "other side" gets it right for once. In December, numerous right-wing bloggers tagged the Associated Press as treasonous after one of its Iraqi stringers captured photos of Iraqi election workers being executed by insurgents in broad daylight on Baghdad's notorious Haifa Street. The photographer, they claimed, could only have gotten the photos if he'd been working with the bad guys.

But after a team of AP photographers won a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for their work in the war zone, it was enough to motivate Paul, a contributor (by first name only) to Kevin Aylward's Wizbang blog, to step up and point out the cloudiness of his partisan colleagues' thinking. "This is an unspectacular picture that has been blown completely out of proportion (sadly) by people on my side of the agenda," he said. "Let's not get crazy huh? That's what the other side is best at."

Back in December, while the bloggers were busy furthering their long-running rant about how the "left-wing media" is always eager to depict the war effort as a disaster, Salon spoke with a source at the AP familiar with the situation in Baghdad who confirmed that the photographer "definitely would not have had foreknowledge" of a violent event like an execution. (See the above link.) Paul's post on Wizbang punched holes in most of his fellow bloggers' assertions as to why the photographer had to have been colluding with the terrorists to get the photos. (See the other above link.)

The Washington Post's coverage of the Pulitzer win for the AP this week sheds more light on why right-wingers seem to have such a hard time with images that expose the true ugliness of the war. The article points back to another indelible image from Iraq: a March 2004 photo that AP photographer Khalid Mohammed took of Iraqis celebrating over the charred bodies of four American military contractors who were murdered in Fallujah. "Some people tried to prevent me from taking the picture," Mohammed said. "I had to move fast because I saw the situation was very, very dangerous."

"Mohammed's photos startled the world," the Post continues, "and were a critical part of Iraqi history after the U.S.-led invasion. Fallujah instantly became a household name, recognized as an insurgent stronghold until the U.S. military led a major assault on the city in November."

If it were up to the war hawks, the world would never see any of the nasty stuff that casts a shadow of doubt on the mission -- even if it takes peddling a conspiracy theory that some of their very own won't buy.

Update: Kevin Craver of agrees that the AP conspiracy is a bunch of bunkum. And while he reiterates his belief that the mainstream media "has done a terrible job of balanced news coverage from Iraq" because it "wants to be the voice of opposition," irony doesn't get a whole lot richer than with his take on the Michelle Malkins and Little Green Football throwers of the world:

"It's not like these Web sites to go off half-cocked with such limited information," Craver says. "The MSM are the experts at rumor, speculation and innuendo -- let's not follow their example."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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