Since early 2006 the website Medialens (not to be confused
with Media Hell) has been running a smear campaign against
Iraq Body Count (IBC). This has involved a mixture of ineptitude,
dishonesty and the occasional fit of hysteria - eg the claim that
IBC were "actively aiding and abetting in war crimes".
Their latest "alert" (the fifth devoted to smearing
IBC) contains the same mixture, with extra bile.
Here's a particularly contemptible lie from Medialens:
In the past, IBCs response to the suggestion that
violence prevents journalists from capturing many deaths has
been, in effect, 'Prove it!' (Medialens alert, 3/10/07)
There is no excuse for this. Medialens know that IBC have always
stated that "many if not most civilian casualties will
go unreported by the media. That is the sad nature of war."
This IBC statement has been quoted several times on the Medialens
website, so they can't claim ignorance.
The whole Medialens "alert" is a mixture of distortions
and insinuations. For example, they mention Marc Herold's "Afghan
Victim Memorial Project that inspired John Sloboda to set up IBC",
and quote Herold saying (of his own study's figures): "probably
a vast underestimate". They then comment:
There is no reason to believe that the application of the
same methodology in Iraq is generating very different results.
Medialens show their sloppiness here. IBC use the same approach
as Herold, but they don't use the same methodology. And there
is reason to believe the approach in Iraq is generating different
results than in Afghanistan. But Medialens wouldn't know the reasons
because on this issue they rarely get beyond a lazy, inept level
It's also curious that Medialens omit to mention the other critics
of the Lancet 2006 study (it's now quite a long list of people
with expertise in the field, including Jon Pedersen of the UNDP
Iraq study, demographer Beth Osborne Daponte etc, not to mention
highly critical pieces about the Lancet study in the journals
Science and Nature).
If Medialens presented these other critics and their criticisms
alongside IBC's criticisms, a completely different picture would
emerge - with IBC being shown in good company. But the purpose
of the Medialens "alert" is not to inform their readers
about criticisms of the Lancet study - it's to smear IBC with
dirty tricks of rhetoric.
Gavin Esler said Medialens have "no
credibility" and that they are "deceitful".
I rarely agree with Esler, but this latest "alert" from
Medialens provides plenty of evidence in support of his remarks.