January 09, 2009
Anatomy of a Media Hoax
As the IDF campaign in Gaza continues, so do attempts by Hamas and Hamas sympathizers to use the western media as an often willing propaganda tool.
Yesterday, media critic Charles Johnson commented on Little Green Footballs about a 2-minute CNN story that purported to show the death of a Palestinian child in Gaza that was captured on film by his brother.
Here is a copy of that CNN story.
The video purports to show a truly horrific series of events. A boy and his friend are said to be struck down are struck down while they play, deliberately targeted by an Israeli drone aircraft armed with missiles. As doctors frantically perform CPR, the child apparently dies in front of his horrified brother, who continues filming. The boy is taken home, where he is cradled in the arms of a grieving family member. The video then cuts to the roof of the family home, where a family member shows where he claims the Israeli missile strike took the life of the two boys. The video then shows the family taking the boy to a local cemetary in a shroud, where he is to be laid to rest.
It is a truly horrible story, and one no doubt played out by heart-broken families on both sides of this conflict far too many times.
The only significant difference in this story, however, it that it is an obvious fake, featuring a series of images that any credible news editor should have quickly recognized.
But what marks this story as a hoax, and what elements point to media collusion in promoting this video as propaganda? Please watch the video above again, and we'll go through those elements step-by-step.
- basic medical procedures are poorly faked
- known propaganda actors are used in this film
- the site of the attack is poorly-constructed and inconsistent with a military attack.
- the body doesn't act like a body
First, let's return to the hospital, and take a look at our medical doctors and the life-saving procedures they are performing.
Narrated by Michael Holmes, the video opens with a Palestinian and European doctor hovering over what the narrator claims is a "victim of the violence."
The Palestinian doctor, on the right side of the camera frame, is shown to be mimicking a series of fast and shallow chest compressions as the doctor on the left examines a monitor.
The obvious problems? This is not how CPR is performed.
There is never an attempt to get the child to breath or to provide him with life-sustaining oxygen, and the chest compressions are far too shallow to be of any medical value at all. Real chest compressions performed during CPR are violent by necessity. For the
lungs to fill with air heart to pump blood, they it must first be forcefully compressed using hard and deep pressure that uses a significant amount of upper body strength on the part of the person doing the compressions. The amount of forced used to successfully compress the chest would be very painful to a conscious victim, as the compressions often crack or even break the ribs. The doctor in this video is being very careful not to cause the out-of-frame victim any harm.
Such delicacy would not be practiced if desperate life-saving measures were actually needed. Nor would such care be wasted on a corpse used in such a re-creation. As we will discover later, this so-called victim seems very much alive and healthy, and they take great care to make sure he remains that way.
But enough about our Palestinian doctor poorly faking chest compressions. Let's have a look at our dashing Norwegian doctor on the left of the frame.
Sadly, the image quality is lacking i this still-frame from the video, but you get a much better shot of him accompanying this print story that happened to be running at the same time as CNN's video.
Isn't he quite the photogenic soul?
The BBC, CBS, CNN, Sky News, and other news outlets sure seem to think so, as they've all featured him and his special brand of spin:
International media reports, including those from the BBC, CBS, CNN and FOX’s sister station Sky News, present Gilbert as an ordinary doctor.
But a look at his record shows that Gilbert, 61, is a political activist and member of the Norwegian Maoist "Red" party, and he has been involved in solidarity work for the Palestinians since the 1970s. He has criticized the international aid organization Doctors Without Borders for refusing to take sides in conflicts.
Gilbert volunteers at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza with the Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC), an aid organization funded by the Norwegian government, and he has been interviewed by the media on a variety of issues. Israeli government officials have said Hamas hides weapons in the hospital where Gilbert works.
NGO Monitor, an Israeli human rights watchdog group, says Gilbert presents one-sided criticism of Israel to the media and has accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians in its Gaza offensive to stop Hamas from firing rockets into Israel.
In addition to being supportive of the terrorist organization Hamas, Gilbert has voiced support for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
What makes mad Mads appearance in this video all the more shocking is that he can't be bother to even help make this bit of theater mildly convincing by even going through the motions of giving the victim air, a complaint quickly voiced by doctors who viewed the clip.
I'm no military expert, but I am a doctor, and this video is bullsh-t. The chest compressions that were being performed at the beginning of this video were absolutely, positively fake. The large man in the white coat was NOT performing CPR on that child. He was just sort of tapping on the child's sternum a little bit with his fingers. You can't make blood flow like that. Furthermore, there's no point in doing chest compressions if you're not also ventilating the patient somehow. In this video, I can't tell for sure if the patient has an endotracheal tube in place, but you can see that there is nobody bag-ventilating him (a bag is actually hanging by the head of the bed), and there is no ventilator attached to the patient. In a hospital, during a code on a ventilated patient, somebody would probably be bagging the patient during the chest compressions. And they also would have moved the bed away from the wall, so that somebody could get back there to intubate the patient and/or bag him. In short, the "resuscitation scene" at the beginning is fake, and it's a pretty lame fake at that.
Frankly, we need Foreman and House on this. If we're going to have fake CPR, we need to have fake doctors who can pretend to do it more convincingly.
Now, let's look at the impact site of the alleged Israeli drone's missile attack.
For reasons never explained in the video—or perhaps for obvious reasons—the narrator never quite explains why the Israeli drone found this incongruous pile of cinder blocks to be worth firing upon, nor does it explain why the drone stopped firing only after mortally wounding the one cinder block, leaving the other largely intact and still capable of posing a threat. I kid, of course.
The cinder blocks are the heart of the video segment filmed on the rooftop where the two boys were said to have been killed. A frame-by-frame review of this segment as the camera pans across the roof shows no evidence of scorch-marks, shrapnel, or scoring consistent with shrapnel in the area around the blocks that the brother suggests is the impact point.
There is no evidence of any penetration or contact with into the roof surface itself at that point or anywhere else shown— not a single mark, despite the fact that drone-class warheads typically have impact-dependent fuses that means they would have detonated on impact, or if delayed, would have penetrated into the home before exploding.
As the camera pains across the rooftop, confirming no evidence of blast damage, it pans past the kind of cheap resin chairs that grace so many homes and apartments worldwide, thanks to the magic of Chinese industry. You've probably had one like this yourself.
You've also probably thrown away your fair share of chairs exactly like this one as well.
One thing we have learned from years of foreign imports is that you can have "cheap," or you can have "quality," and this kind of chair is decidedly cheap. Flimsily made, they bend and break with little provocation, and perhaps just as interesting for our context, they are tossed violently a considerable distance with even a moderate wind.
Somehow, we're expected to believe that an Israeli missile detonated on this roof without causing any obvious shrapnel, or enough concussive blast damage to shatter a simple resin chair or even knock it over, and yet still have the power to kill two boys, including at least one that was on the far side of that chair (where the "blood" stains are) or shred the clothes hanging on the clothesline just feet behind the that.
Despite all the fiction so far, there is some actual truth in the video on the rooftop, when the narrator notes that the roof is "pock-marked." There are holes in metal panels and chipped concrete, as you can see in the images below.
You'll also note that the metal panels are corroded around the edges of the holes, which is interesting in that recent perforated galvanized metal shows up bright, only to corrode much later. The pockmarked concrete, likewise, shows the weeping of rust from the exposed iron rebar inside.
This rooftop does indeed show signs of damage, but it is far less obvious if the damage is a sign of substandard construction materials or from combat. In either event, the corrosion evident on both the metal and concrete assure us that the damage was done long ago. No missle impact here during this war, if ever.
Lastly, rest assured that our young victim is doing far better than his pretend treatment and shroud would indicate.
As he is about to be laid to rest, the shroud falls away, leaving his arm exposed to gravity. Conscientious even as a corpse, the young victim holds his arm tightly against his woundless body as the camera pans away. I suspect his family is celebrating his miraculous resurrection even as you read these words.
And what of his family?
His brother's grief was never too strong to keep him from documenting his brother's death, and he will cope by burying himself in his work. Considering that he is the general manager of the company that runs web sites for Hamas while they are at war, I'm sure he is quite busy, indeed.
As for CNN, they have carried on exactly as you would expect they would as the kind of company that would hide the torture of even their own employees just to retain favorability among despots.
While they quickly dropped the video from their site after being caught in this lie, leaving what must have been an uncomfortable void where the video used to be, they did so with no explanation, no correction, and no retraction.
It must have been a very interesting meeting when decided that the best way to handle this obvious farce was to double-down and continue to pretend this story was real, replacing the fradulent video with the print script of the story read by Michael Holmes.
The story is no less fraudulent, and the cover-up is far more damning.
This, truly, is CNN.