For a few hundred million people, Petro Poroshenko’s latest offensive in the east of Ukraine crushed the separatist defenders at Donetsk airport. Reuters readers now fully expect, all of Mother Russia to fall beneath the Ukrainian onslaught.
For those who may not believe it, we have no less than five Reuters correspondents to testify. Surely, the hundreds of stories being read in America and Britain today, are ample proof Putin’s Russia and the Donbass rebels are on the run now. Well, all except for one detail, that is. Sergey Prokofiev International Airport is fully in the hands of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Mis-reporting of wartime events is not so uncommon, and this Reuters story would not be so bad if someone in charge cared enough about accurate information to amend it. But no one does. It took 5 people to make the story, all 691 words of it, but not one writer or editor took the time to verify facts. Natalia Zinets and Lina Kushch apparently penned the news bit for Yahoo News and a few hundred others to pick up. They’re apparently on the ground in Kiev someplace, and their collaboration with Jason Bush in Moscow, along with and Pavel Polityuk, and with something (I know not what) added by Alessandra Prentice, if sheer numbers ever impress for such stories. And too, all that reporting expertise for this the latest “story” in a series edited by Ukraine bureau chief Richard Balmforth and Reuters’ regional editor Tom Heneghan from Paris, it’s astounding for a writer who types 700 words in 20 minutes with more accuracy.
When I saw this story yesterday, I had no idea who these people even where. I was certainly astounded by the news Donetsk airport had fallen, especially since my friend and colleague Graham Phillips was almost simultaneously streaming images and video asking; “Where are the Ukrainians?” Graham, you see, he’s been imprisoned, shot at, captured, tossed around, and banned and banished from Kiev, all since he began reporting the wrong story. Excuse me, but there’s no way to remain without snideness or cynicism, not given all the bullshit from Reuters and the like. But misinforming, like I said, is not so unusual. What is unusual is when reporters or news outlets are told there is evidence and reporting to suggest inaccuracy, and no one does anything about it. This is the case so far with Reuters, and with Bloomberg. Both outlets ran with this version of reality, and I contacted both to offer up imagery (neither had) and testimony, neither media outlet took the time to gather.
As I write this, Alexander Zakharchenko has spoken directly with Graham Phillips about the “attempts” by Kiev forces to retake the airport. Phillips, who had been walking unmolested all yesterday about the airport, shared dozens of photos and video showing exactly the opposite of what the Reuters story suggested. What’s most important here though, is the fact Phillips was not even contacted by ANY of the media I tweeted or messaged, or any of those tagged. This can only mean one of two things in my opinion. Either the mainstream western media is so sure of ANY story line that supports Kiev, that they are immune to dissenting views or other evidence. Or, journalism in general relies only on the broadcasting of the same story, over and over, in propaganda form, period. Maybe both of these are true.
Introduced to the sheer obtuse character or abject arrogance of these entities, I looked up who these reporters are. At least three of them, are interestingly associated with such a story. You see FIVE people, this sticks in my mind like a splinter. What is more sticky for me though, are the roles of the people.
Richard Balmforth – He’s the Chief Correspondent in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova for Reuters, and the former Information Officer for NATO.
Tom Heneghan – He’s the Regional Editor stationed in Paris, and in charge of religious news. (You probably caught that, so I will leave off asking the logical question.)
Jason Bush – He’s the Chief Economic Correspondent for Reuters in Moscow. Again, the logic of economics meet world conquest escapes me, as I am sure it does you.
Pavel Polityuk – Now he’s an interesting one among the platoon of authors on this one. He usually reports from Ukraine on such things as commodities and energy, agricultural commodities, oil, gas, etc. An IT guy according to his LinkedIn profile, I am not sure why he is involved, maybe they’ll finally explain.
Anyway, the other authors, and these, they are part of a bigger team that has covered many stories about Ukraine since the unrest began. If I pointed out that almost all of these lean toward Kiev and Washington, and in the general direction of NATO, I don’t guess anybody would be amazed. Here’s one telling of Russian misdeeds and not a lot more. That example only took two major editors and one writer though. What’s crucial to understand here though, is not the singular effect of one bad story. It’s the downhill slide of misinformation that trickles from the fingertips of these authors.
Reuters reporting ends up at places like the London Free Press, with some of the same writers. Stories like these, spread far and wide from London to Washington, New York City, Paris, worldwide really, so imagine the overall impact. Yahoo News pics up these stories, and hundreds upon hundreds of other newsrooms. I know the astute reader grasps the implications. Once it’s said, at least by Reuters or BBC, it’s done and over. You cannot really take back the implication and the social sense of these kinds of information fumbles. Of course Reuters is not even treating this one as a fumble, now are they?
Has the media become so immune to the public view, as to ignore even the possibility of being wrong? What kind of people are behind media with such immense power and so little scrutiny? Whether these reports are outright lies and propaganda, or lazy and mediocre incompetence, the end result is the same. Did Kiev’s forces attack? No one has denied this. Is the airport in their hands now? No one has provided imagery or video to that effect yet.
What we have seen are images of, as Reuters puts it; the “Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s Azov battalion line up before they depart to the frontlines in eastern Ukraine, in central Kiev January 17, 2015.” Now what’s significant in that for me is, “who had the foresight to snap images of recruits headed to a front nobody else knew about? The time stamp on this is the day before yesterday folks. Was this story being crafted BEFORE the airport was “taken over?” Or, did the FIVE authors craft, re-craft, edit with two different editors, all on European time, as the battle was going on?
It’s a bit like when the press announced Dewey had beat Harry Truman. Or you tell me.
Additional image credit: Feature image of Patrick Lancaster in Ukraine with Graham Phillips – Courtesy the reporters.