Today the Boston Globe published an explanation about the “rape” photo flap the newspaper was caught in when it published images purported by a Boston councilman to be of U.S. troops gang-raping Iraqi women. The accompanying story failed to confirm or deny the legitimacy of the images.
The Globe column by ombudsman Chris Chinlund claims the newspaper giant has still failed to discover the source of the photos and cannot confirm or deny their legitimacy to readers.
As previously reported by WND, the photos are fake and were produced by a group called Extreme Traffic. The website “Sex in War” was built around the Extreme Traffic “rape” content. Select photos also were carried by another site, Iraqbabes.com, and the Hard Rape site, but all images were derived from “Sex in War.”
Ombudsman Chinlund’s explanation focused almost exclusively on the problem of the graphic nature of the content, and she still apparently refuses to admit the photos came from a porn site. In this way, the statement seemed to function partly as a distraction from the core issue: that the Globe was duped into running porn images despite their mighty investigative resources.
Metro editor Carolyn Ryan said, “Our intent … was to bring some scrutiny to allegations” that Councilman Chuck Turner made. Some scrutiny. The reporter, Donovan Slack, failed to discover the true source and nature of the “rape” photos, but wrote the threadbare article anyway, and her editors approved it. Since when is wondering out loud in an article whether images are of real rape or not equal to true journalistic”scrutiny”? This is like a lazy student turning in their homework with the answer, “I don’t know the answer.” This lame article was not news and should never have run. A five-minute Google search would have retrieved WND’s expose on the subject, complete with the name of the porn site the photos came from.
While the paper does run under tight deadlines, there’s no excuse for having failed to discover this ruse before the article and images went to press. If it had done so, it would have had a hot article: “Councilman distributes porn shots at press conference. Alleged they were of U.S. crimes in Iraq.”
Instead, it had a wishy-washy article that neither confirmed nor denied the legitimacy of the images.
Chinlund, sadly enough, pretended in her piece today not to know the source of the photos. WND has copies of e-mails proving Chinlund does know the pornographic source of the photos. In today’s Globe article, she passed off the porn issue in this way:
“Various sources last week said the photos displayed by Turner came from a pornography website, and they may well have, although I could not trace it to the source.”
“I could not trace it to the source?” Does Chinlund not know how to turn her computer on? Are we supposed to believe she is really that incapable and clueless?
Chinlund as well as reporter Donovan Slack and editor Marty Baron received e-mail from WND explaining that the photos were taken from the Sex in War site. While select photos were also carried on Iraqbabes.com (which has been shut down following WND’s original report), WND clearly told the Globe that all the images were contained on the Sex in War site and also gave them the URL to the companion marketing site of Extreme Traffic.
On May 12, around noon, WND gave the Globe detailed information on this at the Globe’s request and has e-mail documentation to prove it. Immediately afterward, at the Globe’s request, WND walked reporter Slack through part of the Sex in War site, where she paid for a 5-day subscription, until she could see that two scenes, which represented two-thirds of the Globe’s porn photos, were on the site. Then I left Slack to find the other scene from which the Globe had several photos. Given the fact that she’s a reporter at a major newspaper, surfing a porn site should hardly be considered a challenge.
When Slack started seeing that fellatio and rape images were exact matches with the porn shots, she said, “This is ridiculous!” She quipped earlier, “I’ll be working at Penthouse soon!”
Despite the fact that editor Baron and ombudsman Chinlund are also in possession of the Sex in War information given by WND, Chinlund had only this to say in today’s Globe piece:
“I did find one news website with a note from a woman identified as the porn-site operator. She was quoted as saying the images, shot in Hungary, had been removed because they were used for anti-American purposes.”
Chinlund is referring to WND’s story about IraqBabes.com being shut down, but she disingenuously avoids commenting on the parent Hungarian site, Sex in War, which has never been shut down and, as Chinlund was repeatedly told by WND, is the source of all the images, including the ones that were on IraqBabes.com. In addition, there are still screen shots of the IraqBabes.com site on the Internet.
Plus, this photo mix-up has already been reported on thoroughly in pornography-industry news media.
Editor Baron refused to speak with WND yesterday when told I wanted to question him as to why the Globe was refusing to admit it knows the images came from a porn website.
He also refused to answer e-mails indicating WND’s surprise over the comments the Globe ombudsman made in yesterday’s Agence France-Presse article, implying that she had no idea where the photos were from and had “failed” to find their source.
“… So my question to you would be, why are you pretending like you don’t know and haven’t already verified that the photos came from the Sex in War site and were created by the Extreme Traffic content providers?” WND asked.
“In April you were quoted in Editor & Publisher as saying, ‘Editors bear responsibility for what’s in their newspapers and if they are alerted to problems they have an obligation to pursue them.’
“So WND’s question also would be, why have you not pursued telling the truth in this matter? Do you consider it now your responsibility to lie and to direct your ombudsman to lie as well?”
When WND walked Slack through the porn site, she seemed excited to get the scoop on the source of the photos, and said, “This is great,” adding however that her editor was “dying” since finding out the photos were from a porn site.
When WND rushed out a story on the Globe’s gaffe, however, the Globe was furious and tried to intimidate WND into taking the story off the Web. It was furious, of course, because it didn’t want anyone to find out it was stupid enough to run a story and photos about “rape” images without thoroughly verifying them beforehand.
In addition to “failing” to find the source of the photos, Chinlund also failed to respond to WND’s e-mail and verbal messages left for her, including this one:
“… Since the Globe has known for over 24 hours that the photos were taken from the porn site Sex in War, which was, contrary to your statement, never taken down, I’d like to get your comments for publication.”
The ludicrous notion that the Globe ombudsman is selling is that the paper was incapable of finding the source of the photos. This excuse only serves to make it appear even more inept, as WND warned Baron and Chinlund. Do they really expect Globe readers to believe that with an entire newsroom at their disposal, including a research department, they couldn’t figure the dang thing out?
Update: To make matters worse, the Globe has now published an editorial confirming that the photos are “bogus” and saying that they “appear” to have come from a porn website. That admission has only taken the media giant three days, and it only came after repeated denials that it knew the source. Even worse, the Globe blames Turner for the gaffe, calling him “reckless” and “inflammatory.”
So now, the Globe has expressed even more incompetence: After failing to confirm or deny for three days that the “rape” photos were from a porn site, the newspaper today both confirms and denies it knows the source of the photos.
Pathetic and half-baked, this “pass-the-buck” editorial also slammed Turner for having “no regard for truth or consequences” and for making “unsubstantiated charges,” while admitting Turner left authentication of the rape photos to news media.
It’s worth noting that the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Herald did not report on the press conference because they found the photos highly suspicious. In addition, the Wall Street Journal was able to confirm the photos were porn shots within 10 minutes of receiving them, since they checked the Internet and pulled up the WND stories about the source.
The editorial also wails that Turner has undermined his anti-war cause”by giving fuel to outlandish claims that the Abu Ghraib prison photos were faked.”
It’s this Globe commentary that’s truly outlandish.
Meanwhile, if you’re still waiting for the Globe to come clean on the fact it knew the photos were porn for the last three days, it looks like it will be a very long wait. Saving face, passing the buck, “killing” the messenger, and the use of lies and obfuscation as a crisis-control strategy – these seem to be its most important corporate values.
Too bad telling its readers the truth isn’t.
Sherrie Gossett is a Florida-based researcher and writer, formerly with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and a contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily.