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The AP’s non-correction correction

By Michelle Malkin  •  January 31, 2007 03:52 PM

Wow. Just wow.

The Associated Press puts its advocacy spin and institutional arrogance on naked display in a story hot off the wires. You know those four mosques that AP reporter Qais Al Bashir and AP source Capt. Jamil Hussein claimed had been “destroyed” and “torched” and “burned and blew up“? The ones we showed were attacked, but not destroyed, in our Hot Air video report and NY Post column 10 days ago?

Well, newsflash: The AP has just acknowledged that the “destroyed” mosques are still standing. The headline: “Sunni Mosques Still Show Damage in Iraq.” Here’s the lead paragraph, which mischaracterizes the AP’s initial reporting and description of the mosques:

Four Sunni mosques attacked in late November in the embattled Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad still bear scars from the attacks and all are now either under Shiite Muslim control or closed.

Immediately after the Nov. 24 incidents, an Associated Press story quoted an Iraqi police captain saying the four mosques had been attacked and six men doused with fuel and burned alive at one of them. In some early versions of the AP story, which was updated several times as more information became available, the police officer referred to the mosques being burned or blown up.

Nowhere does the AP acknowledge that it reported that the mosques were destroyed. (Note to AP: Check Lexis/Nexis like Patterico did if there’s something wrong with your internal databases.)

The AP continues to spin by mischaracterizing the military’s reaction to its initial reporting:

The report was challenged a day later, when a U.S. military spokesman said it could only confirm an attack on one mosque.

Here’s the full text of the military’s response on Nov. 25, which challenges NOT the allegation that the mosques were attacked, but that all four were burned:

Contrary to recent media reporting that four mosques were burned in Hurriya, an Iraqi Army patrol investigating the area found only one mosque had been burned in the neighborhood.

Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted a patrol in Hurriya Friday afternoon in response to media reports that four mosques were being burned as retaliation for the VBIED attacks in Sadr City on Thursday.

The Soldiers set up a checkpoint near the Al Muhaimen mosque at approximately 2 p.m. and found the mosque intact with no evidence of any fire at the location.

While investigating the Al Meshaheda mosque, the patrol received small arms fire from unknown insurgents. The patrol returned fire, and the insurgents broke contact and fled the area. A subsequent check of the mosque found the mosque intact with no evidence of a fire.

At approximately 3:50 p.m., a local civilian reported to the patrol that armed insurgents had set the Al-Nidaa mosque on fire by throwing a gas container into the mosque. The patrol pursued the insurgents but lost contact with them.

The Soldiers called the fire department and set up a cordon around the mosque. Local fire trucks responded to the scene and extinguished the fire at approximately 4:00 p.m. The mosque sustained smoke and fire damage in the entry way but was not destroyed.

An alleged attack on a fourth mosque remains unconfirmed. The patrol was also unable to confirm media reports that six Sunni civilians were allegedly dragged out of Friday prayers and burned to death. Neither Baghdad police nor Coalition forces have reports of any such incident.

Contiuning with the AP’s CYA report:

Since then, the AP has confirmed damage at three of the four mosques, including burn damage at two and slight damage at a third…

…The fourth mosque named in the AP’s original report, the al-Qaqaqa mosque, also known as the al-Meshaheda mosque, has a broken window…

A far cry from the AP’s report that all four mosques were “destroyed,” “torched,” “burned and blew up.” You can re-read the full story of what happened to the Hurriya mosques, with photos, here, and video plus on-the-record comments from FOB Justice officers here. Thanks for the confirmation, AP.

Here is the AP’s corrections policy:


Staffers must notify supervisory editors as soon as possible of errors or potential errors, whether in their work or that of a colleague. Every effort should be made to contact the staffer and his or her supervisor before a correction is moved.

When we’re wrong, we must say so as soon as possible. When we make a correction in the current cycle, we point out the error and its fix in the editor’s note. A correction must always be labeled a correction in the editor’s note. We do not use euphemisms such as “recasts,” “fixes,” “clarifies” or “changes” when correcting a factual error.

A corrective corrects a mistake from a previous cycle. The AP asks papers or broadcasters that used the erroneous information to use the corrective, too.



Bryan weighs in. The AP press office sends this link, which skirts any accountability for failing to make a corrective–and instead changes the subject to AP journalists killed in Iraq.

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