Fauxtography in the Service of Hezbollah Propaganda:

Over the past two weeks, David Bernstein has been bringing VC readers some of the story about the staging and posing of photos of supposed "civil defense workers" and dead children at Qana, Lebanon. My media column today for the Rocky Mountain News/Denver Post also looks at the issue, and reports some of the evidence, brought forward by the blogosphere in the last two weeks, about the many faked, dishonest, or staged photos from the war in Lebanon.

Conclusion: "Notwithstanding the media critics, Hezbollah has, in the war for Western public opinion, sometimes succeeded in subverting Western news organizations into organs of its own propaganda. At Qana at least, it appears that the media may have been complicit in the production of controlled, staged images using dead children as props, which were falsely presented to the public as authentic, spontaneous photos of a rescue operation."

Some commenters on Prof. Bernstein's posts have raised the argument "who cares about staging; all the matter is that the Israelis killed the children." That argument is wrong on two levels: first it is a gross violation of journalistic ethics to present a posed/staged photo as if it represented spontaneous activity; there is little doubt, at this point, that the media at Qana perpetrated this violation, and have been attempting to cover it up ever since.

Second, we don't really know how/why the children died. Some bloggers have suggested that they were hauled into the scene for the rescue. The Lebanese newsmagazine Libanoscopie quotes a source that Hezbollah placed handicapped children and a rocket launcher in the same building, hoping that the children would be killed, and that the media would use the incident against Israel.

We do know, as my article details, that the media were forbidden to examine or inspect the building where the children were allegedly killed; A.P. spokeswoman Linda Wagner, in response to a question from me, did not deny this fact, but instead sidestepped the question.

The question of why the western media at Qana are passing off Hezbollah propaganda as the truth is a question which I leave to other analysts; I suspect that there are several answers, not just one explanation.