Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Did Four Mosques Burn in Iraq as AP Claimed? -- Apparently No

That's the result of a rather Byzantine investigation into an Associated Press article that stated as fact that four Sunni mosques were burned and six worshippers burned alive in late November in Baghdad. Only one mosque appears to have been burned, and there is no evidence of any worshippers at those mosques being burned alive. Patterico has the summary of Armed Liberal's investigation into the murky facts.

In short, most of the AP story appears to be wrong, and its "we stand by our story" line doesn't stand. As Patterico and Armed Liberal (Marc Danziger) has noted, getting the truth out of Iraq is extremely tough. It is understandable that AP could have made a mistake. But what's not acceptable is AP's refusal to even admit its story could have been wrong. After a Reuters stringer was caught forging a photo from Lebanon this summer, AP should have taken heed to examine its own fact-gathering processes in Middle East conflicts. The situation in Iraq is bad enough without exaggerating it.

Errors are inevitable in the news business. A prompt admission of these errors strengthens a news organization's credibility. It's time for AP to learn that lesson.

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