Media

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…
NBC

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?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. What?

    No, seriously – WHAT?

      1. That looks just like my cat TIMMEH!

        Spooky!

          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?

    Really.

    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….

    /Towelie

    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?

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

  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.

  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.

    http://www.WentAnon.tk

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

    2. So say we all.

  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.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.