Monday, November 07, 2005

Jimmy Massey: Prevaricator Extraordinaire

(Via Michelle Malkin)

Ron Harris of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the story of Jimmy Massey, a former Marine Staff Sergeant who has been making claims that he and other Marines committed atrocities in Iraq. Unfortunately, Harris is the only reporter I have seen so far that has been willing to question his claims. As it turns out, Jimmy Massey either has a very active imagination or is a habitual liar:

For more than a year, former Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey has been telling anybody who will listen about the atrocities that he and other Marines committed in Iraq.

In scores of newspaper, magazine and broadcast stories, at a Canadian immigration hearing and in numerous speeches across the country, Massey has told how he and other Marines recklessly, sometimes intentionally, killed dozens of innocent Iraqi civilians.

Among his claims:

Marines fired on and killed peaceful Iraqi protesters.

Americans shot a 4-year-old Iraqi girl in the head.

A tractor-trailer was filled with the bodies of civilian men, women and children killed by American artillery.

Massey's claims have gained him celebrity. Last month, Massey's book, "Kill, Kill, Kill," was released in France. His allegations have been reported in nationwide publications such as Vanity Fair and USA Today, as well as numerous broadcast reports. Earlier this year, he joined the anti-war bus tour of Cindy Sheehan, and he's spoken at Cornell and Syracuse universities, among others.

News organizations worldwide published or broadcast Massey's claims without any corroboration and in most cases without investigation. Outside of the Marines, almost no one has seriously questioned whether Massey, a 12-year veteran who was honorably discharged, was telling the truth.

He wasn't.

Each of his claims is either demonstrably false or exaggerated - according to his fellow Marines, Massey's own admissions, and the five journalists who were embedded with Massey's unit, including a reporter and photographer from the Post-Dispatch and reporters from The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal.

In what is yet another glaring example of the mainstream media establishment failing to fact check stories that further their own ideological agenda, they have allowed Massey’s version of events to be perceived by news consumers as the absolute truth.

Massey’s claims don’t appear to be difficult to challenge, and, in fact, were challenged by his fellow Marines and five embedded journalists who were there. It is unconscionable to me that the mainstream media at-large would accept Massey’s claims at face value without even a minimum of verification. Thank God there are still journalists like Ron Harris who actually believe fact checking is a critical duty in responsible journalism.

If the mainstream media had actually done their homework, they would have discovered they had to look no further than Jimmy Massey himself, to provide doubts as to the validity of his claims. The only consistency in any of Massey’s recollections is the inconsistencies.

Ron Harris details the metamorphosis Massey’s recollections have gone through and points out changes in ages of victims, locations of events, casualty numbers, and Massey’s own admissions that he did not personally witness much of what he claims.

Massey seems to back track whenever he is challenged on the validity of his claims, which begs two questions: If the facts are the supposed goal in newsgathering, why was the attempt not made to discover them in this particular case? If the mainstream media is able to chase down “facts” involving all things Bush, why is it so difficult to chase down facts from an anti-war protester who will sing like a canary when backed into a corner? I’m fairly confident I already know the answer.

Michelle Malkin was correct when she said this story has legs. With the notable exception of Ron Harris and a handful of others in the mainstream media, those legs will be found primarily in the blogosphere.

Massey may be getting a pass from the mainstream media while he is channeling John Kerry and having his own "Christmas in Cambodia" moment, but the blogosphere is an entirely different animal. As John Kerry himself can no doubt attest, the blogosphere is a tenacious bulldog with a bite every bit as vicious as its bark.

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Thanks to: Beltway Traffic Jam , NIF, Drop Zone Open Post

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