David Frum, Gaza Truther

A pundit's paranoia.


But enough about Gaza. Now let me tell you my analysis of these photos from Sandy Hook…

David Frum presents himself to the world as a level-headed moderate, a man repelled by crazy fringe figures and conspiracy theories. The center-right pundit and former Bush speechwriter also recently spent a day declaring that three major media outlets were faking images from the Gaza war, borrowing this analysis from a blogger who thinks he once took a snapshot of a ghost-cat as it was dematerializing.

Here's the backstory. On July 24, Reuters, the AP, and The New York Times all published photos of two brothers in blood-soaked clothes at a Gaza hospital. The men's home had been destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, and the blood belonged to their father, who had been heavily injured in the attack. Frum then fired off a series of tweets pronouncing the photos fakes and speculating about why Hamas' propagandists had created them. The sole source for his accusations was a blog post by a fellow named Thomas Wictor.

I won't waste your time describing Wictor's argument, because at this point even Frum doesn't accept it. The photojournalism site BagNews thoroughly debunked the charges, and LobeLong scored an interview with Wictor that made it pretty clear that this was not a well-grounded man. (In addition to confirming that his ghost-cat post was not a joke, Wictor told LobeLong that you can safely conclude a Palestinian is a Hamas operative if he has a beard with no mustache.) Yesterday Frum finally retracted his accusations in a post at The Atlantic.

Frum's retraction was headlined "An Apology," but it's one of those yes-but apologies where the author spends most of his time making excuses for his error. Frum explains his "skepticism" about the images—that's what he calls it, his "skepticism"—in great detail, but he never acknowledges that his tweets were not simply skeptical: They swallowed Wictor's analysis uncritically, declaring forthrightly that the pictures were fake. Readers might also notice that while Frum apologizes to one of the photographers he accused of deception, he doesn't spare a single word for the people in the photo, though it is if anything even more offensive to accuse them of faking their grief.

Because I spend a lot of time writing about political paranoia, I can't help remembering the many times Frum has written or said things like this:

I realize there's something absurd in trying to debunk conspiracy theories. People don't reason their way into them, and they are not reasoned out of them.

David Frum has a choice for you.
Warner Bros.

Now he has spent a day promoting a conspiracy theory of his own. And while he was eventually reasoned out of it—apparently you can do that after all—his retraction may still give you the impression he thinks the flood of bloody images from Gaza is some sort of Matrix that would vanish if we all popped the red pill.

Frum is also the guy who gave George W. Bush the phrase "axis of evil," in which those famous rivals, Saddam's Iraq and the mullahs' Iran, were supposedly secretly aligned. (That's what an "axis" is, you know. An alliance.) So the man is no stranger to dubious conspiracy tales. But he consistently describes that sort of thinking as though it's something those other people do, not a phenomenon you can see among establishment figures like Frum as well as fringy folks like Alex Jones. Let this episode be a reminder that paranoia can flourish at the top as well as the bottom of the social pecking order.

NEXT: Andrew Napolitano: Is President Obama Incompetent or Lawless?

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  1. What?

    No, seriously – WHAT?

      1. That looks just like my cat TIMMEH!


          1. Yep.

            The other cat is Cartman. Both black. HAH! Ironic for Cartman!

            1. Does Cartman love delicious tears?

      2. Also, it frightens me that you had that link so quick.

        *moves away from Rich, never taking eyes off him*

        1. HA! I’m over … HERE!!

          1. *SCREAMS*

            1. *** pats Almanian!’s shoulder, from beyond ***

              Don’t be scared. Almost anyone can do it with a little practice!

  2. You mean he assumed that the Palis might fake a photo for propaganda purposes? Yeah, it isn’t like they have ever done that before now.

    1. Before they had actual carnage from this fight, they did reprint carnage from Syria, so I wouldn’t be surprised either way with this one.

    2. Yeah, his error was relying on a crackpot, not in presuming that the Palestinians would fake a propaganda photo. Particularly in light of the fact that, as UCS points out, they literally just got busted using photos from Syria earlier this month. It’s not a conspiracy to think that something that has demonstrably happened very recently might be happening again. It’s just shitty fact checking.

      1. ” It’s just shitty fact checking.”

        It’s more than that. Frum is actually a Israeli partisan and everything he publishes puts Israel in a good light and Palestinians in a poor one. Less shitty fact checking by Frum would have not resulted in a story of an authentic Israeli atrocity, but no story at all. That’s how propaganda works. Shitty fact checking is only the beginning.

    3. the thing is it does not really matter if that photo was faked, because somewhere over there is an awful lot of grieving family members. A photo of an imagined scene is like a painted picture, the artist makes it all up but it does not actually change the facts one way or the other.

      Whether this image is genuine or not does not take away from the actual carnage that does exist, hence it’s great propaganda value. Especially since it merely tugs at heartstrings and causes people to think that the bombing is bad. Never mind the reasons behind the bombing of Gaza.

      In short attacking the validity of the photo is pointless. Supporters of Israel instead ought to stress that the bombing of Gaza is a response to Gaza’s support of Hamas (avowed enemies of Israel).

      For the record while I generally support Israel over the Palestinians I also think that their present heavy-handed tactics are only serving to prolong the conflict.

      1. “Supporters of Israel instead ought to stress that the bombing of Gaza is a response to Gaza’s support of Hamas (avowed enemies of Israel).”

        Collective punishment is a war crime. I’ve never seen supporters of Israel stress their favourite nation’s participation in war crimes. Much more typically they deflect: We massacre civilians? Well, they fake photos!

        1. There is no “collective punishment” by Israel. When you store weapons in schools and put your command and control centers in residential areas, you KNOW civilians are going to get hit. When you do it anyway, you’re the one committing “war crimes”.

          1. The blockade of Gaza is collective punishment. It affects all Gazans.

            1. The rocketing of Israel is collective punishment. It affects all Israelis. See how this works, dumb-ass?

              Stop attacking Israel, recognize their right to exist, leave them the fuck alone, and join the civilized world, you donkey-fucking, shit-fingered savages.

              1. You seem to agree with me. You didn’t take much convincing.

  3. I don’t get it.

  4. Um….what?


    I’m still at…what?

  5. I’m gonna come back to this about 10 times today, rereading it, TRYING to understand.

    It will drive me further into madness.

    It is the journey I must make….

    1. There is no TRY, Almanian! There is only DOO-DOO.

        1. THAT’S MAH POT PIE!

  6. I have no idea what’s goin’ on….


    1. It’s the melody to Funky Town!

      1. “Won’t you take me to ….”

        Dammit, Matrix! Now I’ve got that stuck in my head!

        *** goes to YouTube to listen to song ***

  7. “Lazy reporter is duped: film at 11.”

    Sorry, Jesse. But shouldn’t this be the lede on every news program every night in every city in America?

  8. I’m sure there is a point here but less certain as to what it is. Is David Frum capable of spin? Well, he was a former speechwriter for a president; spin is in line 2 of the job description. Is the claim that the Pals are nice folks? Don’t know that anyone believes that.

    People trust things that confirm their pre-existing beliefs. I doubt Frum thinks highly of Hamas and the group’s staging of an event is hardly unheard of. So what’s the point?

    1. We have no idea how the Pals would be, if they ever escape Israel’s military blockade.

      Even the Times of Israel has reported the MASSIVE disparity in the death counts — now over 1200 in Gaza and 57 in Israel.

      This just in: Israel just bombed the only electric plant in Gaza, but they aren’t targeting civilians. Right. Like the death toll. Facts are SO inconvenient.

      Might this be why most of the civilized world wants Israel to stop?

      1. They’ve also reported Hamas storing missiles in UN schools and Hamas headquarters being under a hospital.

        But you just go on ignoring that, asshat

        1. Ummm, a blockade is an act of war.

          Civilian death toll:
          1100 Gazans
          2 Israelis

          *THAT* UN school was abandoned. The school Israel bombed was a UN refuge for 3300 Gazans. Israel’s excuse is that mortars were fired from …. wait for it … NEARBY!

          Two videos are further proof of Israel’s butchery. The first one shows two ambulances hit directly, killing the rescuers. Note the reporter at the opening, later shown lying in a pool of blood.

          Why were the ambulances there, Azathoth? Israel bombed civilians then came back to kill their rescuers.

          Hitting one ambulance might be bad targeting. But TWO direct hits, that far apart, is believable only to the same ilk who swallows Obama’s alibis.

          Second is a UN spokesman following the bombing of another school. He starts talking about the rights of Palestinian children … gets too choked up to continue … and collapses into loud sobbing.

          Every time Israel kills civilians they blame Hamas for using shields. Show of hands, who believes a democratically elected government would (or could) do that to their own voters? (OMG)


          Imagine a tiny country, totally blocked from foreign trade, surrounded by armed boarders, denied a port on their own coast … while Netanyahu publically states that he will never allow a Palestinian state there.

          May God someday grant you even one tiny speck of humanity.

          1. Fact: Hamas has used Hospitals and schools to store weapons and house command centers.

            Fact: The Palestinians have a history of posing people “in a pool of blood”, and then miraculously resurrecting them after the photo op.

            Fact: The Palestinians have a history of transporting munitions and soldiers in ambulances.

            Fact: The Palestinians regularly launch rockets and mortars from within populated areas knowing those ares will be subject to counter-battery fire.

            Fact: Without a state of perpetual self-imposed victim-hood, “Palestine” is just another desert area populated by donkey-fucking, shit-fingered savages, and the gravy train would crawl to a stop. IMO, Hamas would do anything to keep that gravy train rolling, including killing their neighbor’s children.

            Imagine Cuba launching rockets into Miami and the Keys, day after day, week after week. They’ve sent suicide bombers to blow up buses and schools and markets in Miami, Orlando, Tampa. We’ve blockaded them, because they continue to import munitions, and they’re supported by Iranian Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an organization known to be the largest supporter of terrorist in the world. They’ve vowed to destroy us. We’ve tried for years to establish peace, but they continue to attack, insisting falsely that Florida is their historical homeland, and they want it back over our dead bodies.

            What exactly do you think we would do in this situation?

            1. (Laughing) I provide sources. You scream FACT.

              A blockade is an act of war. That makes Israel the aggressor. And everything you say useless (and laughable)

              Do we have a military blockade against Cuba? (lol)

              Yesterday, Netanyahu stated that he would never, EVER allow Gaza to become a sovereign nation. That means he denies their right to exist, no different from the Hamas. But Arabs have a growing percentage of moderates, where Netanyahu speaks, in effect for the entire Jewish population in the region.

              What would we do if he said that against us? Destroy his entire country, if we thought he was serious. It’s called a pre-emptive strike.

              Bibi is his own worst enemy, and Al Qaeda’s vwey best recruiter.

              Taking sides between Israel and Hamas is as bizsrre as taking sides between our Republicans and Democrats … a choice made by a shrinking minority of tribal loyalists.

              Don’t forget the saturation bombing of civilians which the UN has called a violation of international law.

  9. Jesse is the one claiming that there is a conspiracy. There is absolutely no evidence that David Frum is a journalist.

    1. 1) Why would he have to be a journalist?

      2) What Jesse REALLY said is that Frum had been suckered by a wackjob conspiracy theory.

      3) But it can only be a conspiracy theory if Frum is a journalist???

      Are YOU a journalist. Why do I suspect you got flim-flammed by the same conspiracy nuts? Many people believe anything which confirms their tribal loyalties, on blind faith alone.

  10. Wait…So you are telling me Frum is a fucking degenerate lying piece of neo-cum-riddled shit?

    Say it ain’t so.

    1. stop going to easy on the dirtbag

  11. Yeah, cause the noble palis have never engaged in propaganda. Only a crazy conspiracist would thing them even capable of doing so.

    / cosmotarian.

    1. The column says the opposite. Don’t confuse the Times News and Editorial pages,

      The Times also published a chart showing an overwhelming number of Palestinian deaths, compared with Israeli deaths (currently 1200 to 57), which was reported as news by the Times of Israel.

      It’s getting harder to tell the players without a scorecard.

      What’s your guess, how many Americans know that Israel maintains a military blockade of the Gaza strip? Is a blockade no longer an act of war?

  12. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that read this and has no idea what the point or purpose is.

  13. I dont understand the whole Gaza thing man.

    1. I’m confused. Is your lack of understanding proof that Artificial Intelligence has been achieved, or proof that it has not?

      1. It does seem confusing when evidence now points to Israel as the aggressor, with most of the civilized world refusing to support them.

        At the moment, the world’s two biggest villains are Putin and Netanyahu, which does take some getting used to.

    2. So say we all.

    3. I don’t understand the whole Gaza thing man.

      Israel has maintained a blockade of the Gaza strip for decades, even to denying them a seaport on their own land.

      The Palestinians even had to build tunnels to conduct foreign trade. This eventually caused the Palestinians to elect Hamas, in desperation. Terrorists (very few) then used the tunnels to attack in Israel. (That’s why the tunnels are MUCH larger than terrorists would ever need, including concrete walls and ceilings, large enough to drive trucks through)

      As reported even by the Times of Israel, Hamas demands an end to the blockade against them, which ain’t gonna happen, so the Palestinians are now thinking Hamas has gone too far, but Israel keeps bombing civilian targets — like destroying Gaza’s entire electric generating capacity.)

      This puts rank-and-file Palestinians in a pickle, with both Hamas and Israel seen as threats to their peace, they have literally no place to turn … even though most of the civilized world now wants Israel to stop, while much of the Arab world wants Hamas to back off.

      Off to the side, the US military is pledged to keep Israel the sole nuclear power in the region. And we now have military action with no good guys on either side.

      Confusing indeed!

      1. Let’s just ignore the fact that Hamas has a stated goal of destroying Israel, and continues to smuggle weapons with which to attack Israeli population centers at every opportunity.

        1. (lol) Just ignore that a blockade is an act of war, which makes Israel the aggressor. Hello? Hello?

          Netanyahu just stated his own goal to forever deny a Palestinian state there.

          Palestinians have pushed for a two-state solution, while Israel refuses.

          Even the Times of Israel reports The Gazans won’t give up until the blockade is removed (or Israel kills ALL their civilians)

          How does a tiny country survive, when a war monger has blocked all foreign trade, denying even a seaport on Gaza’ss coast, and controls the airspace.

          If you keep punching somebody in the face, will you blame them for hitting back?

          You were saying?

          1. I was saying “fuck you”, and fuck the Palestinians. Hamas is a terrorist organization backed by the Iranian Al-Quds Force. THEY are the reason this conflict continues. These donkey-fucking, shit-fingered savages keep launching rockets into Israeli population centers. Will you blame Israel for fighting back with a blockade and military force?

            1. And I explained why you’re a brainwashed simpleton. With a trashmouth to cover it up.

              A military blockade is still an act of war, which makes Israel the aggressor. DUH

              If one commits an act of war, it’s a massive hypocrisy to start whining when the victim retaliates.

              One more time. Netenyahu told reporters yesterday that he’d never allow a Palestinian state there, under any circumstances, which fired up his extremist base (and blind followers)

              Tell me again how any of this justifies intentional attacks and slaughtering hundreds of civilians? That one’s a war crime.

              Oh yeah, Israel never had any right to that land in the first place, which was stolen from the Arabs … My own view is that the West committed THAT aggression to redeem their guilt for allowing the Holocaust.

              If you knew the history in that region, you’d … know the history.

  14. Frum is also the guy who gave George W. Bush the phrase “axis of evil,” in which those famous rivals, Saddam’s Iraq and the mullahs’ Iran, were supposedly secretly aligned. (That’s what an “axis” is, you know. An alliance.)

    I always thought he meant they were “allied” by evil.

    ie they both did evil things and therefore pose similar threats.

    Bush also included North Korea in the axis and no one thought Iran and Iraq were somehow in formal alliance with North Korea.

    It was a metaphor and everyone knew it.

  15. Considering that the Bush Admin promoted the most catastrophically destructive conspiracy theories of the century, you’d think that they’d keep their mouths shut.

    – 9/11 hijacker M. Atta met with Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague = Sadaam Hussein was behind 9/11 terrorists!
    – WMD! Ooops, Sadaam must have shipped it to Syria!
    – Iran is just a few years away from atomic bombs and delivery systems! (And it seems like they always will be.)
    – Anthrax! Sadaam can kill us all! (Turns out to have been spread about by an agent of the US Government under the Bush Administration.)
    – Axis of Evil!

  16. I’m not saying the photos in question were faked, but have you heard of the term “Pallywood”? If so, what does it mean to you?

  17. Forget the Axis of Evil.

    After a decade of continuous intellectual decline, Frum and the rest of the Neocans, like Mark Steyn, embody the praxis of weevils.

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