Michael J. Totten on Patrol
Mike Yon in Baqubah

Reuters Gets on Marine Sergeant's Bad Side

Our old friend, a Marine Sergeant, emailed to mention a recent Reuters article from his AO.  It begins:

Three U.S. soldiers were killed during combat operations on Thursday in western Anbar province, an al Qaeda stronghold in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Monday.

Now, that suggests that "the U.S. military said" that Anbar was "an al Qaeda stronghold in Iraq." the Marine Sergeant notes:

Anbar is an AQ stronghold in Iraq? *Really*? That's funny because Reuters, AP, NYT, WSJ and WaPo have all done reporting that Al Qaeda is shattered in Anbar via the "tribal awakening." They certainly haven't made their "stronghold" in the entire fricking province.

This is just bad reporting all around. It's an al Qaeda stronghold? Who says? Certainly not the duty expert: the military. And since there's no attribution we don't know if anyone whose opinion or assessment of such things actually said this. No, it's one reporter and his editorial chain not giving a [deleted] and preferring to advance an OpEd lede.

This isn't the first example of a news service writing its lede to suggest that the United States endorsed a proposition that really belongs to the writer.  My favorite example was this one:

A US navy carrier battlegroup is to launch a 'show of force' in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea off west Africa as part of an unprecedented global operation to demonstrate America's command of the high seas, a US diplomatic source told AFP on Friday.

I'm sure that's just what our diplomat said:  "A US navy carrier battlegroup will be holding an exercise in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea."

Apparently the news wires need to revise their stylebooks a little bit.  It matters whether the US military or the State Department was the source for these claims.  By constructing their ledes in this way, they're conveying a false impression of the facts to their readers.

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