A Picture is worth a Thousand Lies

29 March 2006 - 8:00pm

The Baghdad the Republican Howard Kaloogian wishes he found on his junket to Iraq

Congressional Candidate With Bogus Photo
by the Staff of Editor & Publisher on 29 March 2006

How far will critics of media coverage of the Iraq war go to prove reporters are wrongly focusing on the negative?

One answer came this week, in a shocking if amusing episode featuring one Howard Kaloogian, a leading Republican running for the seat in Congress recently vacated by indicted Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

Kaloogian posted on the official Web site for his campaign a picture taken in “downtown Baghdad,” he said, during his visit to the city, which supposedly indicated that the media was wrong about the level of violence there.

photo purported to be downtown Bagdad by Republican Howard Kaloogian

“We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq,” he wrote. “Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism."

But the blogosphere quickly smelled a rat. The photo featured people who didn’t seem dressed quite right for Iraq, and signs and billboards that looked off, too. In the now-familiar pattern, the ace detective work leaped from obscure blogs to the well-known (Talking Points Memo, Eschaton, Attytood, more), and back again, as eagle-eyed experts proposed alternative locales, with Turkey a likely suspect.

In less than a day, it was over. “Jem6X” at the popular DailyKos blog confirmed the street scene was in Bakirkoy, a suburb of Istanbul, not Baghdad.

image of same intersection, known to be the Bakirkoy neighborhood of Istanbul

Tipped off by someone who recognized the actual intersection in Turkey, Jem went through online photo galleries and in a matter of minutes today found a snap taken by a “Faruk” that lined up with the “Baghdad” photo in numerous conclusive ways. Game, set, and match to the blogosphere.

Later Wednesday, Kaloogian admitted the photo was from Turkey but denied he had anything personally to do with posting it on his site. He replaced that Turkey photo with a photo of what he said was Baghdad--taken from a distant hill.


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