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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Fine the Boston Globe 

Yesterday, the Boston Globe published pornographic pictures. The pictures, they were told, showed American soldiers raping Iraqi women. Unfortunately, in their thirst to paint as black a picture as possible of our soldiers, the Globe took their sources at face value. Nobody on the staff did the five seconds of research it would have taken to know that the pictures were determined to be fake over a week earlier. So, the story ran, about an activist and a Boston city councilor (who didn't do the research either) holding up the pictures indignantly.

There is no shortage of stupid (or, if you're charitable, lazy) people out there. It speaks volumes about the viewpoint of the two men who presented the photos, and the viewpoint of the Globe editors who published them, that the pictures were assumed to be legitimate and not double-checked.

In the end, the Globe ran a half-assed apology:

Editor's Note: A photograph on Page B2 yesterday did not meet Globe standards for publication. The photo portrayed Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and activist Sadiki Kambon displaying graphic photographs that they claimed showed US soldiers raping Iraqi women. Although the photograph was reduced in size between editions to obscure visibility of the images on display, at no time did the photograph meet Globe standards. Images contained in the photograph were overly graphic, and the purported abuse portrayed had not been authenticated. The Globe apologizes for publishing the photo.
Something as sensational as that, and you didn't authenticate the photo??? Looks to me like we have an editor who is completely unqualified to do the job they're paying him to do. Pornography should never appear in the pages of a respected and widely circulated newspaper.

And that brings me around to Howard Stern. If the FCC can fine Clear Channel a half million dollars for airing a segment of Stern's show in which he talked about sexual practices on the radio, then the Globe should suffer a much greater penalty for actually showing it.

My guess is that since it's not Howard Stern, and because it didn't happen during the Super Bowl, this isn't going to be a huge story and nothing will happen in the end. And that's too bad, because the Globe needs to be hit hard for doing something this stupid. I'm not sure which government agency would handle such a thing (it's not the FCC), otherwise I would be posting contact information here. Does anyone know who to write?

UPDATE: Dan Kennedy makes a point which I missed entirely:

Also, in my quick update this morning, I neglected to note that the Globe failed to include some pretty vital information in its "Editor's Note" today - or, for that matter, anywhere else in the paper: the fact that these photos had been exposed as fakes quite a bit before Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and local activist Sadiki Kambon unveiled them at a news conference on Tuesday.
(Hat tip: Instapundit)
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