Mint Press, Dale Gavlak, and alternative narratives around the August 21 chemical weapons attacks

For some people, antipathy for and suspicion of the U.S. government is so visceral that their immediate inclination is to believe the opposite of anything a U.S. official might claim.

Since the U.S. was quick to assert that the Assad regime must have been responsible for the August 21 chemical attacks, a knee-jerk reaction was to counter that the attack must have been carried out by rebels in an effort to trigger Western intervention.

This theory still has life even as it becomes increasingly evident that by happenstance or design, Bashar al Assad has been the preeminent beneficiary of the latest turn of events in Syria.

From the outset, this was a theory desperately in need of supporting facts and thus an August 29 report published by Mint Press News was quickly seized upon, among other reasons because included in the byline was the name Dale Gavlak, who has freelanced for the Associated Press.

A few days after the report appeared, the following note was added at the top of the report:

Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, with whom the report was written in collaboration, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents.

Gavlak is a MintPress News Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This report is not an Associated Press article; rather it is exclusive to MintPress News.

She has now made it known that on August 29 when she filed the report she also wrote an email which said: “Pls find the Syria story I mentioned uploaded on Google Docs. This should go under Yahya Ababneh’s byline. I helped him write up his story but he should get all the credit for this.”

She didn’t want the byline but she did believe the report deserved credit.

She has now issued the following statement which appears at Brown Moses Blog:

Mint Press News incorrectly used my byline for an article it published on August 29, 2013 alleging chemical weapons usage by Syrian rebels. Despite my repeated requests, made directly and through legal counsel, they have not been willing to issue a retraction stating that I was not the author. Yahya Ababneh is the sole reporter and author of the Mint Press News piece. To date, Mint Press News has refused to act professionally or honestly in regards to disclosing the actual authorship and sources for this story.

I did not travel to Syria, have any discussions with Syrian rebels, or do any other reporting on which the article is based. The article is not based on my personal observations and should not be given credence based on my journalistic reputation. Also, it is false and misleading to attribute comments made in the story as if they were my own statements.

In a word, Gavlak wants to have nothing to do with the story.

It’s not hard to figure out why she now finds this an embarrassment. What’s harder to explain is why she filed the story in the first place.

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Comments

  1. Louis Proyect says:

    She associated herself with this story because she is a hack without any POV. She has written for Washington Times, a rightwing rag that was founded by Korean arms manufacturer and cult leader Reverend Moon. Anyhow, Steve Horn, an honorable young man who writes about fracking, just resigned from Mint Press because of this.

  2. Good for Steve! Glad to hear that.

  3. Instead of resorting to ad-hominem, I’ll take my chances with this very plausible statement. …And what about the following? The sarin gas was purportedly released by untrained members of the Jabhut al-Nusar militia in the town of Ghouta Sham. This allegation has been substantiated by Doctors without Borders who treated the injured survivors, including injured Jabhut militia members who complained that they had not been properly trained in the use of the gas weapons they had transported into Syria from Iraq.