The Beeb Who Cried Wolf

Photo: The bomb that wasn't. Click for larger image.Last month, bloggers (including NB's Bob Owens), caught the BBC flat-out admitting its complicity in a staged photo shoot with a Lebanese boy posing next to what the broadcast said was an "Israeli bomb lying unexploded" in someone's living room.

Admitting to participating in news manipulation was bad enough and doing it while endangering a child was even worse. Further compounding things, though, was that in an accompanying photo essay, the Beeb breathlessly identified another Israeli munition left behind in a Lebanese house as an anti-personnel mine. Trouble is, it wasn't:
From SUSANNA BRANDON, copy editor, USA Today: BBC correspondent Martin Asser, reporting Aug. 21 from Southern Lebanon, caused something of a photo-staging and child-endangerment stir when he informed readers: "The shell is huge, bigger than the young boy pushed forward to stand reluctantly next to it while we get our cameras out and record the scene for posterity."

But deeper into the accompanying photo essay, titled Lebanese Villagers Return Home, was something equally amiss: a device breathlessly identified in photo No. 9 as an anti-personnel mine. One is led to assume that the mine was left behind by the Israelis to maim these innocent civilians returning home.

There is one small problem: This so-called anti-personnel mine is clearly marked "lithium battery."

The error has since been fixed. I asked for but received no explanation as to why no one at the BBC bothered to find someone to read the Hebrew markings on this diabolical device. At my newspaper, if a photo editor cannot read something in a picture, he or she makes damn sure to find someone who can.

The BBC has since corrected its mistake but nowhere on the photo page does it mention that it had made an error, potentially confusing those who originally believed the battery to be a mine who might come back later to the page.

Update 14:57. In other fauxtography news, the recent reports of two Lebanese ambulances being hit by Israel are being disputed. Were the vehicles really hit? Michelle Malkin looks at what a variety of media outlets are saying.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013