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July 10, 2008

Missileading Sources

Lat-Revolutionary-Guard

The prevailing wisdom regarding the widespread publication of the doctored Iranian missile test is that the photo department at any number of media organizations should have smelled out the fake in a second. 

I have a little bit different take. 

If you’ve been around here a while, you might remember this entry from November ‘07.  In that post, I took the LAT to task for illustrating its presumably objective Iraq war reporting with photos supplied by the U.S. Military.  Then as now, I think the trouble here is, as much, a sourcing issue.  The reason this photo didn’t appear in a more scrupulous visual enterprise like the NYT, for example, is because they wouldn’t make the mistake of confusing a certified terrorist organization with a photo agency.

Didn’t the media learn anything from its role as the promotional arm of the Iraq invasion?  I mean, if Cheney and Khamenei wish to engage in a blatant, testosterone-infused game of PR warfare, doesn’t the media — especially the visual media — have a responsibility to avoid further co-dependence?

It’s great if the egg-on-the-face from publishing this photo results in less media facilitation of this two-way, saber-rattling,

fear-manipulating propaganda battle.  Except, the reticence should have been there in the first place.

Tests called mostly ‘chest-thumping’ (Houston Chronicle)

Iran: Wars and Rumors of War (Juan Cole)

(image: The Iranian Revolutionary Guard via the LAT front page)

  • itwasntme

    I’m loving this entire photoshop dustup, and the mocking pastiches now circulating on the good ol’ web. It just proves everybody is a lying sack of sh*t.
    But, more deeply, the recent Fox News photo distortion, which is now being answered by the Vanity Fair distortions of Fox News personalities, combined with this recent Iranian ’shop are giving me the effect of looking into a kind of mirror – perhaps an outward manifestation of how we all see ourselves, or would like to see ourselves, how we see our enemies, and how others see us. We now have the ability to make our inward prejudices actually visible to one another. This can be turned back on the person doing the distorting by such analysis as the BAG does here.
    Obviously, Iran wants to be seen as more successful than it actually was – it’s a small country being threatened by a much bigger one. Fox News distortions letting us know how stupid and ugly they think their detractors are, and Vanity Fair sticking it’s tongue out in retaliation. I’m just as happy this is happening with pictures, and not with actual bombs.

  • http://awesomeometer.blogspot.com/ nffcnnr

    Looks like a smoking gun to me! Attack Iran.

  • quotheraven

    “stick out tongue, bite hard”

  • http://www.jaxxattaxx.com/ black dog barking

    Take the New York Times for example. They have something called the news hole. When the editors lay out tomorrow’s newspapers, the first thing they do is the important things – they put the ads around. Then they have a little bit left that’s called the news hole, and they stick little things there. Quite apart from that the media are just big corporations and of course represent the interests of their owners, their markets, which are advertisers, and for the elite newspapers, more or less the managerial class, the educated population they deal with. The end result is that you get a very narrow perspective of what the world is like.
    –Noam Chomsky interviewed by Irene December 7, 2005

    Yet another example of the cost and consequences of race-to-the-bottom financial capitalism. If your mission is to inform and enlighten your readership then you must limit the role of interns in determining news content. However, if you simply need to fill the space between ads then interns and faxes from KKKarl Rove are pretty space-filling and very attractively priced.
    ‘Course, you run the risk of alienating readers. How are the major papers doing these days? Bleeding subscribers? Got to be a coincidence.

  • catfood

    At least it was well executed. Roger Ailes should hire more members of the Revolutionary Guard.

  • charlie

    this has cia black ops written all over it (or, in between the pixels).

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    The real idiocy is in giving the launch of old Iranian missles we already knew they had any space whatsoever.
    I’m sick of this whole Iran is so dangerous runup. It’s stupid, worse even than the Iraq runup was. We already can’t fight the two wars we’re in effectively, and they go stirring up more fake concern about Iran.
    PNAC is dead, neocon morons, give it up already.

  • ratfood

    PNAC is dead, neocon morons, give it up already.

    I’d say drive a stake through their heart(s) just to be on the safe side but it’s probably an easy target to miss.

  • Gasho

    I LOVE the Bag. I love it because you didn’t choose to highlight the identical pixels in the smoke plumes, but rather the attribution of the photo itself: Revolutionary Guard.
    Way to let the air out of the gasbags in the media!!

  • Chris

    What’s funny to me is that this “scandal: seems so unimportant. It’s hard to believe the Iranians felt that four missiles would make a stronger statement than three. I do understand it in the sense of being a better overall composition but it still strikes me as totally unnecessary. Perhaps they were going for a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse symbol for the LaHaygee crowd. The fourth missile must’ve been Left Behind.
    It’s embarrassing for the folks who published it but pretty minimally. I wish images and stories fed to them by the Pentagon were considered equally laughable in the credibility department.
    When I first saw the images late one night my first thought was, “How can they play right into the hands of the warmongers?”
    Left i on the News had a good comment on this situation:
    “The latest contender for the chutzpah crown:
    The British Foreign Office says it does not see any reason at all for the Islamic Republic to need long-range missiles such as Shahab-3.
    Really? Then why is the U.K. wasting money on their own long-range missiles (not to mention nuclear weapons and lots more)? What possible reason could they have for needing long-range missiles that doesn’t also apply to Iran?”

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