Dating agency for the disabled
When a reporter wrote a story about Hamas censorship in the summer of 2014, editors shelved it.
We were trading truth for access and providing an illusion of “coverage” that was actually propaganda—a kind all the more effective because it was not tagged “propaganda” but simply “Gaza City (AP).” You can show genuine footage of a house destroyed by an Israeli strike, but if you don’t show the Hamas fighters launching a rocket from the backyard, your report is a lie.
“It is essential to cover tyrannical regimes and other undemocratic movements, when possible from within the borders they control, in order to accurately relay what is happening inside,” Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement accompanying the new AP report.
The factual findings of the AP’s own report do much to amplify Scharnberg’s indictment, and in the right hands could have been an admirable exercise in self-criticism.
But the AP chose to present its findings with a defensive tone that suggests that while the news organization has unearthed a great deal of information, editors there remain confused about what it all means.
If AP photos from the German advance into Poland and Russia offered an image of the war that didn’t show things like the organized murder of tens of thousands of Jews and others behind the lines by the Einsatzgruppen, it was perhaps because the photos were taken by people like Franz Roth—who was, we learn from Scharnberg’s report, simultaneously an “AP photographer, SS-Oberscharführer (senior squad leader) and photojournalist in the SS Propaganda Company (SS-PK).” In his SS role, Roth took propaganda images showing Soviet prisoners as ugly human specimens—and AP, in turn, “received exclusive rights to the propaganda photos,” which were published in newspapers in Atlanta and Los Angeles.
While claiming to be covering Germany, the historian argued, the AP photo operation was, in fact, engaged in an illusion of coverage crafted in partnership with the Nazi regime.