“The UK Times is acting as a fifth column”

I don’t suppose many Harry’s Place readers are regular visitors to Michelle Malkin’s website, so you may have missed her recent post in which she revealed that the Times had run a story about the alleged massacre of civilians by US Marines in Haditha, and illustrated this with a photograph of dead bodies which was captioned “Victims in al-Haditha. The US is carrying out two inquiries (AP)”. Except it turned out that the photograph was actually taken in April 2005, 7 months before what Malkin calls “the incident in Haditha”, and the bodies shown are those of 19 Shiite fisherman who’d been shot by Sunni insurgents. Malkin then urged her readers to “make sure the America-bashers and troop-smearers in Europe hear your voice”, giving the email address of the Times letters page, and of its US Editor, Gerard Baker, who responded, saying:

Thank you for pointing out the dreadful error on our website involving the wrong picture and capture of murdered Iraqis. I have asked that it be removed immediately and an apology issued. I’m sorry you have jumped to the conclusion that this was a deliberate misrepresentation and the result of slanted journalism and sorrier that you have shared that view with your readers without any attempt to verify it…Our editorial line has been to support the war and we continue to do so, though not without some reservations, of course. We have eschewed completely the sort of vile anti-Americanism so common in much of the British press and our correspondents have done their level best to paint a fair picture of conditions in Iraq today…Please be apprised that this was a genuine and very unfortunate error

Well that’s cleared that up, you might think, and you’d be wrong of course. Malkin has printed some of her readers’ letters to the Times, and while they’re forthright enough – the Times is accused of “eagerness to be used as a propaganda piece for the terrorists and to bash the US led war and pander to the anti-war crowd”, and told to make “a public and widely disseminated apology, to be placed beneath a headline of no less than 24 point type on the front page of your newspaper for at least three consecutive days, and broadcast by television during the same period between the hours of 5:30 and 8:30 in the evening, GMT” – they’re nothing compared what you can find on the trackback page, which shows the other blogs linking to the story.

Here we learn that the Times is part of an “on-going crusade to castigate our military”, that it’s attempting “to soar to the forefront in fomenting hatred for the military”, and that its “never-ending crusade to bash America and our fighting forces” is actually part of a wider strategy – “as Michelle says, ‘yes, the Times is a Murdoch paper.’ That would be Rupert Murdoch who is holding fundraisers for Hillary Clinton. Small world.”

But my own personal favourite is this:

It has become commonplace for the left to manipulate photos in a way that would make Joe Stalin, the left’s patron saint, proud. The latest example comes from the UK Times regarding Haditha…This lie amounts to more than mere “bias” or “slander”. The UK Times is acting as a fifth column. It is acting as a propaganda mouthpiece for the terrorists. The Times promotes the pullout of the American troops with false stories and manipulated photos. The only result from the this propaganda campaign could be the pullout of American troops and the takeover of Iraq by Al Qaeda. Does the UK Times want Al Qaeda to take over Iraq? Why would any westerner want this result? How deeply does the left’s hatred of the West run?

Unsurprisingly, my sympathies here are with the Times – Gerard Baker has never really struck me as somone who wants Al Qaeda to take over Iraq, or who’d be involved in a campaign to foment hatred for the US military. The other reason though is that we’ve been here before, a couple of weeks ago in fact. My post about Amir Taheri’s infamous “yellow cloth” story brought comments such as “Any stick to beat the enemies of American imperialism is good enough for you”, “Let’s cut to the chase here, shall we? Harry’s Place is keen to soften up public opinion for an attack on Iran”, “HP can be proud of doing its teeny bit for the campaign to nuke Iran”, and aptly enough, “Still, I guess you could get a job with one of Murdoch’s papers. They love a good smear, no matter how far from reality it is”.

Perhaps, but how would you cope with the pressure of running simultaneous systematic smear campaigns against the US military and the enemies of American imperialism?

Gordon adds: In case anyone was wondering where The Times stands it runs a reminder in the paper today about who the real target is.

The paper’s leader reflects on the growing tide of anti-Americanism, ranging from left to right, from good Europeans to little Englanders, and rightly says that the recent killings at Al-Haditha must not become the subplot of a “morality play whose demon king is not terrorism, but the use and alleged abuse of US power”.

The piece goes on to talk about the problems that Western democracies face in the open-ended battle with terrorism and of the pressures this will put on the Atlantic alliance.

“Democracies are psychologically ill-adapted to open-ended confrontations where there can be no decisive victory, the essence of the effort to subdue global terrorism. Eternal vigilance is a wearisome business. The more vulnerable that Europeans feel, the more liable they are to shift blame across the Atlantic.

“The strength of disdain is a measure of Europe’s weakness. Smugness is one of Europe’s great contemporary exports.”