Wednesday, May 12, 2004

MORE ON THOSE FAKE RAPE PHOTOS. This is going to be a bigger story than I thought. (Hardly the first time that's happened!) Matt Drudge has posted an image from an earlier edition of today's Boston Globe in which the photo of the fake pictures of American soldiers raping Iraqi women was run bigger - big enough so that their graphic nature is more evident, even to my aging eyes - and in which the headline ended with "Photos Purported to Show Abuse," a rather different spin from "Councilor Takes Up Iraq Issue."

Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr was going nuts on his WRKO (AM 680) talk show this afternoon, repeatedly accusing the Globe of "libeling" American soldiers. Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner called in and declined Carr's invitation to apologize. I wasn't rolling tape, but essentially Turner said that he didn't want the press to publish the photos, he simply wanted news organizations to attempt to verify their authenticity.

Of course, that completely contradicts this Turner quote in the Globe story: "The American people have a right and responsibility to see the pictures." But never mind.

Word is that the Herald's "Inside Track" is going after the Globe tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is also Mike Barnicle's turn to write. Will he resist the urge to pile on his former employer?

Now, huffing and puffing aside, I still think the two most important facts are these:

1. Donovan Slack's story is completely legitimate, making it clear that there was no way of authenticating the photos that Turner and community activist Sadiki Kambon showed the media, and even raising the possibility that it was all an Internet fraud - as it indeed turned out to be. You could argue that the Globe shouldn't have run the story, but a newspaper does not have to defend covering a City Hall news conference called by a well-known elected official. The issue is how the Globe covered it, and in that regard, there is no issue. Carr himself admitted as much on the air today.

2. Which brings us to the George Rizer photo of Turner and Kambon showing those fake images to the media. I'll wait to see what the Globe says tomorrow, but I'm willing to bet that no one even looked at those tiny images - that the subjects of the photo were Turner and Kambon, and that that's as far as anyone thought things through. Obviously the Globe blew it, but there's no way anyone in that newsroom deliberately ran photos of a gang rape.

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