Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bias? What Bias?


Well, I've never used my blog to accuse the Associated Press or the Boston Globe of being unbiased or overly accurate in their reporting, especially when the stories involve the lawful use of firearms, so why start now?

I blogged on this story a while back after Clayton Cramer had linked to it on his blog. It's the story of a pirate attack on two yachts off the coast of Yemen last March and how the attackers were turned away by their intended victims.

First, read this first-hand account as written by one of the men involved, Rodney J. Nowlin, (United States Navy - retired). Here are some highlights, but do read the whole thing.

There were 4 men in each boat. The boats separated at about 200 yards, one boat ahead of the other, coming down Mahdi's port side and firing into the cockpit. The other boat was firing an automatic weapon at both Gandalf and Mahdi from ahead, more at Gandalf. These guys were shooting directly at the cockpits, and obviously intended to kill us.


At that point I, Rod Nowlin aboard Mahdi and armed with a 12 gage shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot, started shooting into their boat. I forced them to keep their heads down so that they could not shoot at us. I am not sure I hit anyone at that point although I could see the driver of the boat crouched down behind a steering console. After firing 3 shots at them their engine started to smoke and I swung around to shoot at the boat ahead.


The bow of the pirate's boat came right up against Gandalf's stern and two men stood up on the bow to board Gandalf. That was a serious and probably fateful error on their part. I shot both of them. That boat then veered away and I shot the driver, although I am not sure of the outcome because they were farther away and I did not knock him down like the other two.

Now read the AP version as it appeared today on the Boston Globe website.


Massachusetts couple turn back pirate attack on Gulf of Aden

Opening paragraph:

BOSTON - A Gloucester couple attacked by pirates off the coast of Yemen during a global sailing voyage said they fended off their attackers by ramming one of two fishing boats, wounding the gunmen.

Keep reading.

A sailor on another American sailboat that had been with the couple's vessel opened fire with a shotgun to fend off attackers on a second fishing boat.

Yeah, he might have had a minor supporting role in this - ya think?

But, according to the AP story (and headline), it was the unarmed couple on the first boat whom the pirates (armed with automatic weapons) were REALLY afraid of.

Uh huh.

UPDATE: In all fairness, the Boston Herald's version is even worse.


Couple outwits pirates: High seas drama

Outwits? Oh, please. How about this one:

Pirate Attack Victim Opens Fire, Saves Lives of Unarmed Companions from Massachusetts

Mr. Nowlin, the man armed with the shotgun in the next boat over, doesn't even get a mention until the second-to-last paragraph.

"The ones in the other boat approached the stern, still shooting, and were trying to climb on board," Reshef said. That's when the other American sailor opened up with his shotgun, wounding both of the other attackers. The two sailboats were then able to get away, leaving the injured men behind in their boats.

Unlike some bluewater sailors, Reshef said, Barry opted not to have a gun on board. He said he doesn't know if this incident might have changed his mind, but Reshef said, "He is sure he will never go back to this area."

I report, you deride.

UPDATE: Giving credit where credit's due, I am pleased to point you to this write-up from the Boston Globe's website this morning. The writer of this piece, Dan Ephron, actually took the time to review sources other that the AP wire (always a good idea) and get the facts straight for the story.

Nowlin, whose vessel is named the Mahdi, gave a similar account of the pirate attack in a written report to US and Yemeni authorities on March 11, three days after the attack. The report is posted on www.noonsite.com, a website for global sailors.

Now where could he possibly have found that link to Mr. Nowlin's version of what happened back in March? Not that it's tough for the blogosphere to scoop any newspaper these days on a story that's already three months old, for crying out loud.

Also, as Jay G. pointed out in the comment section, FOX 25 ran this story last night with no mention whatsoever of the second boat or Mr. Nowlin's 12 gage shotgun. Go figure.