ABC News aired a video on Sunday that host Tom Llamas said depicted a Turkish attack in northern Syria against Kurdish civilians. Turkey is indeed pushing into Syria and slaughtering Kurds along the way, but the video ABC News played last night is from a military gun demonstration in Kentucky that was published to YouTube in 2017.
“This video, right here, appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town,” Llamas said on the October 13 broadcast as the video played.
But the explosions in the video are identical to explosions seen in a video titled, “Knob Creek night shoot 2017.” Knob Creek Gun Range, in the town of West Point, Kentucky, hosts a biannual event called the “Military Gun Shoot & Military Gun Show” where weapons are fired at night. Members of the public can come and see the show for a fee in April and October.
Side-by-side, it’s clear that the videos are the same:
Both anchor Tom Llamas and foreign correspondent Ian Pannell can be heard using language to make it clear that ABC News didn’t shoot the video and instead acquired it from an outside source.
“This video, obtained by ABC News, appears to show the fury of the Turkish attack on the border town of Tal Abyad two nights ago,” Pannell said during the Sunday broadcast.
It’s unclear if the video may have been slightly manipulated before it was handed to ABC News. But the unedited video from Kentucky shows people holding up their phones to capture the destruction, while the video broadcast by ABC News appears to have colors that are less saturated than the original.
“We’ve taken down video that aired on ‘World News Tonight Sunday’ and ‘Good Morning America’ this morning that appeared to be from the Syrian border immediately after questions were raised about its accuracy. ABC News regrets the error,” an ABC News spokesperson told Gizmodo via email.
Video of the broadcast was previously available on YouTube but was set to private after Gizmodo reached out to ABC News producers. Gizmodo downloaded a copy of the video before it was removed and has uploaded short clips of both videos so people can see for themselves.
The video’s authenticity was first questioned by far-right social media users like Wojciech Pawelczyk, who described himself as a “video researcher” and “Trump supporter,” as well as the pro-Trump blog NOQ Report.
This ABC News broadcast is obviously bad news for people who value accuracy in journalism and it’s sure to provide even more ammunition to pro-Trump supporters who insist that mainstream news outlets are deliberately trying to deceive people. Most news outlets, believe it or not, are trying to tell the truth and know that they’ll pay dearly if they lose the trust of their readers and viewers.
To be clear, there’s no question that Turkish forces are currently slaughtering the Kurds, as countless journalists and civilians on the ground can attest. But this particular video is fake and it’s a shame that it was broadcast.