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Medialens’s embarrassing archive (part 3) October 29, 2008

Posted by dissident93 in Iraq mortality, Medialens.

Presumably anxious to present their campaign (against IBC) in a positive light, the editors of Medialens (in late March 2006) took credit for a claimed amendment to a BBC web page. And they generously acknowledged the help of their supporters in this supposed achievement by announcing:

“Well done everyone” (Medialens editors, Medialens message board, March 2006)

But the amendment that Medialens took credit for (a note about limitations of IBC’s approach) was entirely imaginary. As was pointed out to me at the time, the BBC page hadn’t changed since it was first published on 14 December 2005, more than a month before Medialens began their campaign. (The only changes were the updated numbers and a note about morgue figures which were recently added). Oops.

Medialens were rather less vocal over a clear example of the failure of their campaign. They’d hoped to inform the media and others that IBC’s figure was an incomplete count and not a “total” estimate (as IBC themselves have always made clear). Disappointingly, not even Les Roberts or Gilbert Burnham (co-authors of the Lancet 2006 study) got this right. In a prominent article for Slate magazine, Roberts and Burnham made the “shameful” error (Medialens had been condemning journalists in strong terms for making precisely this error):

“President Bush stated that 30,000 ‘more or less’ had died. The president’s estimate roughly matched the estimates of Iraq Body Count, which derives its total by monitoring newspaper reports of violent deaths. Today, IBC estimates there have been 45,000 to 50,000 violent deaths.” (Slate, 20 November 2006)

Medialens have always been quiet about this.