At a George Bush / Condoleezza Rice press conference yesterday, the first question asked for a response to the Israeli bombing in Houla. The initial reports, cited by Lebanese President Fouad Siniora, stated that 40 had been killed. This total was later reduced to one.
It struck me as an idiotic question, not because, if true, it did not deserve a response from Bush, but rather because the Hezbollah media machine has proven so adept at establish false first reports that the reporter should have known the story would eventually change. Since we have almost 100 years of totalitarian manipulations to learn from, it is truly preposterous for any reporter to believe Hezbollah sources. An unwillingness to wait for confirmation from a responsible group such as the Red Cross is at this point a kind of professional malpractice.
Perhaps by rubbing some noses in the truth of the matter, reporters will learn. Dogs tend to learn that way, why not journalists. From TCS:
Time magazine stringer Christopher Allbritton, writing on his blog while reporting from southern Lebanon, casually illustrated this latter technique: "To the south, along the curve of the coast, Hezbollah is launching Katyushas, but I'm loathe to say too much about them. The Party of God has a copy of every journalist's passport, and they've already hassled a number of us and threatened one."
Whatever the truth is, it isn't found in the initial report.