5 Insane Ways The News Edited The Truth Out Of Huge Stories
This may be a controversial statement, but it almost seems like the news media can't always be trusted. Luckily, an adept reader (such as you, you magnificent discerning bastard/bastardess), can often weed out shoddy reporting simply by glancing at the URL and seeing whether or not it's spelled correctly. Ah, but where things get muddy is when "serious" media decide they want to get in on that "fake news" money. Like the time ...
Channel 9 Doesn't Want To Go To Crime Scenes, So They Fake It
The abduction of 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe in 2003 made national headlines, and led to one of the most in-depth investigations in Australian history. It only ended in 2011, when a rigorous search operation at a site in Queensland unearthed seventeen bones and a few scraps of clothing: all that remained of Daniel.
That he was dead came as no surprise, given that this was a week after Brett Peter Cowan was charged for the murder and taken into custody. The one-week period between the arrest and the discovery of the body sent search teams into overdrive, and news channels into a feeding frenzy. Channel 9, one of Australia's biggest television networks, got in on the action -- they even ended up with live coverage of the search being conducted at the suspected murder site.
It was "live" in the sense that Mad Max was also filmed "live in Australia."
While the in-studio anchor explicitly stated that the reporter was directly over the search site, their helicopter was, in fact, hovering over the channel's Brisbane studios on the first day, and simply sitting on the channel's helipad with its blades whirring the next. That's not even a good lie -- you know, one in which you get credit for trying. That's not turning in a report card with forged grades to your parents; it's taping a picture of your smarter brother to your face and pretending you're actually him.
This just confirms our suspicion that Australia is a fake country.
Still, at least they actually put someone in the helicopter, instead of flat out green screening their reporters "on location," CNN style.
CNN Tampers With An Interview And Gets Called Out
When John Cena, the most famous wrestler in the WWE, sat down with CNN for their documentary Death Grip: Inside Pro Wrestling, he was ready for real questions. And they came:
CNN: "Have you ever used steroids?"
He gave a real answer:
Cena: "Absolutely not."
"Now we can move to tougher questions, such as whether I really am invisible."
Well, moving on we get into --
CNN: "Are you sure?"
W-what? Did they think he didn't hear the question? Did they expect him to snap his fingers and go "oh shit, wait, I meant 'I do all of the steroids, all of the time.' Sorry"?
Cena, visibly frustrated, pointed out how hard it is for exceptional athletes to endure these media trials, wherein they are automatically suspected of using drugs, and only end up looking defensive if they refute allegations. A fair point. Aaaaaand here's how they ran the segment:
Making an upstanding professional wrestler look no better than a common politician.
CNN edited out everything Cena said about steroids -- as well as their shitty questioning -- but kept the final part of his last answer. The interview that aired basically went like this:
CNN: "Have you ever used steroids?"
"If only someone, a leader, were brave enough to call us fake news."
But the WWE had also recorded the entire interview, and promptly came out with the real, unedited footage, which made CNN look like a massive turd. CNN sent a condescending sorry-not-sorry statement to the WWE, and then stood by their decision to use the edited "answer" in the interview.
Note to news media: When you sit down to talk a professional wrestler, and you're the one who comes off like a belligerent showboating heel, you're doing journalism wrong.
Fox News Childishly Alters New York Times Journalists' Photos
When Jacques Steinberg of The New York Times wrote a piece on cable news which, among other things, pointed out that Fox News' rivals were fast catching up on them in terms of ratings, he must have been expecting some kind of response. He probably didn't expect the journalistic equivalent of Fox drawing crude sketches of him surrounded by stink lines.
While co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade discussed Steinberg's piece, Fox gleefully put up pictures of Steinberg and Times television editor Steven Reddicliffe, both edited into wacky cartoon caricatures:
Pre-Snapchat, this took hours of careful work.
You may recognize these tactics from playground grudges and old racist propaganda from WWII, but don't worry, Fox immediately made up for it by running another, much more flattering picture of Reddicliffe ...
... walking a particularly well-groomed poodle with Steinberg's face.
The Boston Globe Doesn't "Get" Facts
On the 12th of May, 2004, Boston residents had their morning significantly soured thanks to a set of horrific images published by The Boston Globe. The images were part of a report on a war crimes expose, and depicted United States soldiers abusing and raping Iraqi women at gunpoint. It was a stirring reminder of the brutality of war, and the stark dehumanization that lies in its wake.
Here are two councilmen holding them, for extra gravitas.
Now, leaving aside whether or not you want explicit war-crime photos front and center before you've even had your corn flakes (odds are, you don't -- that's firmly "after coffee" territory), the images were never authenticated. That's a bold move - to see some graphic sex-horror and just be like "yeah, get the whole family in on this," before doing your actual fact-checking -- luckily, the Globe learned from their mistakes and managed to tighten up their system ... for almost a year. On April 12, 2005, The Globe ran an article covering the Halifax Seal Hunt, an annual "entertainment" event held in Halifax, Canada, where people gather for a fun day of casual seal-murdering. Writer Barbara Stewart described the barbarism of the event in vivid detail, including specific, gut-wrenching details of baby seal slaughter, waters turning red with blood, and the useless protests of animal rights groups. It would have made for a heart-rending tale ... had it not been for the fact that the hunt hadn't yet even started on the day the story ran, and was further postponed because of shitty weather.
Editorial Note: Entry edited to remove and replace unreliable source. While our editors are fully aware of the irony here, irony experts are still being bussed in to ensure it really gets rubbed in properly.
The News Uses Special Effects
In 1986, CBS did a 60 Minutes piece about sudden, unintended acceleration in Audi 5000 models, which led to a series of recalls, and a blemish on the brand's image. 60 Minutes demonstrated on camera that the test car was experiencing bouts of sudden accelerating, despite the driver's foot being firmly on the brake, and the company's reputation lay in ruins. The camera doesn't lie, does it?
The camera might not, but CBS sure as shit does. Conveniently off camera, an expert the channel used had rigged the car, by drilling a hole in the vehicle's transmission, and installing a hidden compressed-air pump system which held the accelerator down without the driver doing a thing. The public never saw this -- just the car speeding away unprompted.
Note: The '80s were otherwise not an exciting time for cars.
It wasn't an isolated incident: In 1981, in yet another 60 Minutes segment, CBS proved that certain kinds of wheels used on heavy trucks were liable to randomly explode like artillery shells, creating a significant hazard for both mechanics and pedestrians. What they forgot to mention was that they had carefully shaved off the locking mechanism that kept the rims in place prior to the test. When the doctored wheels still refused to misbehave, they kept repeating the test, shaving off more and more of the metal each time. It wasn't until 70 percent of the mechanism was gone that they finally got their explosion -- and their story -- out of the ordeal. But don't worry: They got what they deserved.
We expected so much more from the award The Big Bang Theory got seven times.
Not that CBS is the only player in the vehicle sabotage game: In 1992, NBC reported on the unfortunate tendency for General Motors pick-up trucks to catch fire after crashing. Which should have come as no surprise, seeing as NBC had used freakin' incendiary devices to do so.
"Again, we're using the Mad Max standard of 'really happened on camera'."
They, at least, issued an apology, stating that, after a long period of deliberation, they'd decided such "unscientific demonstrations" shouldn't be aired in context of actual proof. Remember: That was their new policy. Up until 1992, under the old policy, basically everything may as well have been special effects.
Dibyajyoti Lahiri is the guy who would mimic the teacher in school and have his friends in splits. Unfortunately, mainstream news media is yet to wake up to his talents. Get in touch with him on Twitter.
For more reasons to never trust anything ever again, check out The 5 Ballsiest Lies The Mainstream Media Passed Off As Fact and The 19 Most Outrageous Lies Circulating On The Internet.
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