By Rowan Wolf, Editor in Chief
n the November 19, 2015 Newshour program, PBS ran a segment titled What’s made IS one of the richest terrorist armies ever?
. High altitude videos were included of bombings that were attributed to U.S. Forces. However, those clips were not of U.S. bombing runs, but of Russian bombing runs (as posted the day before the PBS program by the Russian Defense Ministry).
I contacted PBS regarding this issue, and received the following response:
Thank you for your message. We realized the error shortly after airing that segment. We issued an on-air correction, as well as putting an editor’s note in with the online piece. Here is the note:
Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, a sequence in a report last Thursday about funding for ISIS included footage of Russian air strikes on ISIS oil resources, instead of the US air strikes referenced. Keen observers in the NewsHour audience picked up on the mistake and alerted us to it. The NewsHour regrets the error.
After seeing this problem on PBS, I have carefully watched the presentations of videos of surveillance and bombing runs, and what I have noticed is that there is a lot of “redaction” on the videos. There are blacked out areas all over the screens – concealing those areas that would help identify whose video is being shown.
While PBS issued a correction for the report, like most such errors, the damage was done. I had asked PBS who provided them with the videos, or from where they had been acquired. There was no response to those questions. I suspect, but cannot prove, that it is likely that they got the videos from the the US Dept of Defense, or the Air Force. That makes more sense than they had surfed over to the Russian Ministry of Defense and sorted through their videos to come up with those appropriate to their story. Of course, I could be completely wrong and this could all be an innocent mistake.
The reason all of this matters is because the US has complained that Russia is bombing legitimate rebels and not ISIS targets. If Russian videos of their bombing missions are presented as US bombing missions, it gives lie to the claim that Russia is not bombing ISIS. It also raises the question of why hasn’t the US already bombed these facilities in their “thousands” of bombing runs inside of Syria. What exactly has the US been bombing?
I have included the videos below to illuminate what the accidental inclusions were, and also to point out the Russian identifiers on the videos. Watch the videos that are surfacing periodically on the news (not just Newshour) and see if the identifiers are there, what language they are in, or whether they have been blacked out.
Here is the full segment from PBS.
At approximately 46 seconds into the video, a bombing run is shown (screen capture below):
Here is the video from the Russian Defense Ministry (published on Novemeber 18, 2015) that shows that same footage:
Just for the sake of clarity, here is the screen shot from the above video:
Here is the screen capture from the PBS video of the second bombing run:
And here is the screen shot from the second Russian Defense Ministry video: