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Absolutely Fabulist
By Ed Driscoll · April 16, 2005 04:19 PM · Oh, That Liberal Media!

"Fabulous" is a word that has become primarily known for meaning great or wonderful or marvelous. But as Webster's' online dictionary notes, its primary meaning is:

resembling or suggesting a fable: of an incredible, astonishing, or exaggerated nature [fabulous wealth]
It's telling that the synonym that Webster's recommends for the word is fictitious.

While big media loves to chide blogs for not "making boring commitments" to "covering the news fairly", increasingly, it's been known to be pretty wildly inventive itself. Dan Rather and Jayson Blair are the two most well-known proponents of fabulist journalism, but they're far from alone.

First up via Betsy Newmark, Charles Johnson notes that Reuters has taken a story about twin bus bombings in Israel that actually occurred in September 2004, and presented it as if it happened just this past week.

Meanwhile, VodkaPundit's Will Collier observes the Boston Globe inventing a story about a seal hunt in Canada that never actually happened.

Finally, Mark Steyn notes another Reuters piece that's so wrapped up in its boilerplate conclusions that it can't even locate an excellent reality check on who's winning in Iraq:

In between their Bridges-Of-Madison-County imagery and Horse-Whisperer narrative devices the Western media somehow managed to lose the story functioning municipal government in the south, booming tourism in the north, normality and progress in three-quarters of the country, and now the first Arab country with a non-Arab head of state. The insurgent-of-the-day approach to Iraq didn't even capture that element correctly: On the second anniversary of the invasion, Agence France-Presse ran a story remarkably like the AP's hypothetical specimen. The headline: "45 Killed In Insurgent Attacks."

The lead paragraph: "At least 45 people have been killed in insurgent attacks across Iraq as Washington defended its decision to go to war on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion."

It took an Australian blogger, Arthur Chrenkoff, to poke deep down into the story and emerge with the most salient fact of this bloody toll that of the 45 dead, 29 were "insurgents" themselves. Terrorism is supposed to be one guy indiscriminately killing large numbers of the other side. No terrorist network can survive long if it's losing two of its own men for every one of the enemy. That's the story: a day of hope turned into yet another day of tears for the insurgents.

With a few honorable exceptions, Iraq coverage has been a truly spectacular failure. One day in the future, we'll dig out the yellowing cuttings and wonder how America managed to lose every daily battle and yet still win the war.

One day in the future, we'll also look back on lots of other newspaper articles on the big stories of the past thirty years or so and start to wonder how many of them are accurate--or absolutely fabulist.



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