Early Friday evening I received a link, via email, to this story at ABC News’s website by Russell Goldman and Luis Martinez. The opening sentences read (emphasis added):
In what is being described as the largest release of secret U.S. military documents ever, whistle-blowing web site WikiLeaks has published a trove of classified reports about the war in Iraq, including a secret U.S. government tally that put the Iraqi death toll at 285,000, according to news sources that received advanced copies of the documents.
A little while later I clicked on the link again, but now the opening sentences had been changed to read (emphasis added):
In what is being described as the largest release of secret U.S. military documents ever, the whistle-blowing web site WikiLeaks has released a trove of classified reports about the war in Iraq, including a secret U.S. government tally that puts the Iraqi death toll between 109,000 and 285,000, according to news sources that received advanced copies of the documents.
And then a little later again (emphasis added):
The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks today released a trove of classified reports about the war in Iraq that it said documented at least 109,000 deaths in the war, a higher number than the United States previously has acknowledged, as well as what it described as cases of torture and other abuses by Iraqi and coalition forces.
This strikes me as indicative of the media’s overall reporting on the Iraq War. Media outlets initially jumped on the claim that WikiLeaks had released a previously secret study showing that 285,000 Iraqis had perished in Iraq. ABC News hadn’t even seen the study at the time of its initial report. Instead, it summarized other “news sources” that reportedly had. . . .As can be seen in the third, and hopefully last, version of the ABC News account, the WikiLeaks documents purportedly show that “at least 109,000” were killed in the Iraq War. That’s the number currently on display at the WikiLeaks website. It is not that far off from the statistic compiled by the website Iraq Body Count, which pegs the total number of fatalities at over 107,000.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The bombshell that wasn't
At ABC News, the reporters, assisted no doubt by their layers of editors and fact-checkers, seemed to be a bit over-eager in their pursuit of higher Iraqi casualties. Thomas Jocelyn, of the Weekly Standard, writes: