Three Missiles may be No Threat. Four Missiles, however…

How many missiles?

Today, with this new photography debacle leading cable news stories and featured prominently on the Drudge Report, people are undoubtedly going to wonder what the big deal is about the New York Times–or anyone else, for that matter–running doctored photos alongside news stories.

It’s just a photo, they’ll say.

We’re all being a little touchy, they’ll maintain.

Perhaps the importance of this mainstream media credibility gap can best be summed up by one of the top sworn enemies of the United States of America, currently waging Jihad in hopes of replacing our Constitution with Islamic Law:

“We are in a battle,” wrote Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, “and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. We are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Ummah.” – Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

This isn’t the first time that the New York Times has run a photo illustration (newsspeak for “fake photo”) either out of convenient ignorance or to make things look worse than they actually are. About two years ago, the Times ran a series of photos of a Hezbollah-claimed bombing. The photos showed a gentleman who was climbing atop debris, assisting with the rescue effort, then tragically was shown as being dead and miraculously dust-free in the rubble.

And then, of course, there was the awful photoshopping of the Beirut, Lebanon skyline following a bombing, doctored and distributed by Reuters.

Like it or not, we rely on the media to obtain information regarding the world around us, and many people are either too busy, too naive, too lazy or just plain too apathetic to look anywhere beyond the mainstream media for that information.

Ayman al-Zawahiri was right. The success or failure of their global Jihad depends less upon missiles, rifles and scimitars and more upon being able to spread their message and foster reluctant appeasement from within. The media is perhaps the greatest possible ally for radical Islam in that effect. Iran certainly used it when they produced and disseminated the aforementioned images. It’s up to our media, our free [and ideally, fair] media, to discern fact from fiction.

The problem is that the media, mainstream or otherwise, should be concerned with fact. Commentary is commentary, and Al Franken and Michael Savage and George Will and Arianna Huffington can write and say just about anything so long as their role as commentators is commonly understood. Just like news stories appearing on the front page rather than below the masthead in the op-ed section are presumed to be unbiased fact, photos are as well.

Seeing is believing, as the saying goes, and the moment that it becomes commonplace and acceptable for photographs to be paraded around as commentary in disguise will be bad for us all. We already have to suffer through the bias at networks like MSNBC, masked poorly behind the facade of a newsroom. For journalists, photo or otherwise, to forego their responsibility for fairness, fact adherence and objectivity like this is nothing short of disgusting.

I understand the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality. I’ve been there. Nevertheless, the desire for increased circulation and greater ratings should never outweigh the obligation for fair and factual reporting of the news.


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