AP Again Challenged on Iraqi Source — Continues to Stand By Reporting

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By: Joe Strupp

A long-running dispute between The Associated Press and critics over one of its Iraqi sources show no signs of abating, despite at least two lengthy rebuttals by the news organization. The new IraqSlogger web site, founded by former CNN news chief, Eason Jordan, is out with a fresh challenge, after failing to resolve the issue in its own detective work. This has not set off a new round of examination by the AP, apparently.

Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, told E&P today that she had not read Jordan’s latest item, posted Monday, and likely would not. But she stood by the news organization’s previous statements backing the existence of an Iraqi police captain, Jamil Hussein.

“I’ve been pretty public about what we have done to get to the crux of the criticism we have gotten about it,” she added. When asked about critics’ demands that AP produce Hussein to prove his existence, she said “that area [where he works] has pretty much been ethnically cleansed, it is a nasty place and continues to be.”

Carroll said that Hussein “is a guy we?ve talked to for years,” adding that “we don?t have anything new to say about it, nothing new to add.”

Linda Wagner, AP’s director of media relations and public affairs, said she had just seen Jordan’s post, but did not expect to have more to say about it. She said “it would be highly unusual for any news organization to provide sources on the demands of critics.”

When asked about the fact that no other major news outlet appears to have been using Hussein as a source, Wagner said, “whether he might be used as an anonymous source by someone else, I don?t know.” She added that having a source that is not used by others may not be unusual in a war zone.

Last month, Jordan had invited to take one of the blog critics, Michelle Malkin, along with him to Baghdad to search for Hussein, and she accepted. On Jan. 3 she revealed that she was in the final stages of arranging an embed in Iraq instead, but would look into the AP matter as part of it.

The U.S. military and some Iraqi officials have also challenged Hussein’s credibility or even denied that he existed. He has been quoted in dozens of AP stories from Iraq.

Jordan’s latest critique began, “If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it – and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.

“This controversy and the AP’s handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world’s biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.”

He added that effort by “two governments, several news organizations, and bloggers have failed to produce such evidence or proof that there is a Captain Jamil Hussein. The AP cannot or will not produce him or convincing evidence of his existence.

“It is striking that no one has been able to find a family member, friend, or colleague of Captain Hussein. Nor has the AP told us who in the AP’s ranks has actually spoken with Captain Hussein. Nor has the AP quoted Captain Hussein once since the story of the disputed episode.”

Jordan closed by urging AP “to appoint an independent panel to determine the facts about the disputed report, to determine whether Iraqi Police Captain Jamil Hussein exists, and to share the panel’s full findings and recommendations with the public.

“Until this matter is resolved, the AP’s credibility will suffer.”

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Related E&P Stories:

Eason Jordan Offers to Fly Michelle Malkin to Baghdad — She Accepts


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