Image: AP

There are a few things that make America great, and blowing shit up on the Fourth of July is one of them. So when PBS decided to digitally add stock footage of fireworks to its “live” coverage of the Capitol’s Independence Day celebration, some viewers were left unimpressed. Faking shit? Very Un-American.

The controversy started late on Monday evening, right before the Capitol’s fireworks show was about to begin. Washington, DC, was heavily overcast and many were unsure whether they’d be able to see a fireworks show at all. Some people decided to stay in and watch the fireworks display on TV, only to realize that the PBS’ annual “A Capitol Fourth” broadcast was showing an entirely different show. The viewers began messaging PBS on Twitter and Facebook, forcing the broadcast station to respond publicly.

PBS’ response was quick and rather simple. The station wasn’t trying to trick anyone, it was just trying to do the most “patriotic” thing by lying to thousands of Americans. No big deal, right? WRONG.

People felt betrayed and totally misled. I mean, we’re talking about the station that brings you no-nonsense shows like Charlie Rose and 20-hour Ken Burns documentaries. How could they have messed this one up? How could PBS not see that the most American thing to do would be to broadcast shit blowing up in real-time?


We’re not exactly sure, but this feels eerily similar to the Beijing Olympic opening ceremonies, where fireworks were digitally added to television feeds because officials were fearful that they would not be able to capture the true beauty of the real firework display.

So there you have it. PBS has a least one thing in common with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games. Let’s just hope, like the Olympics opening ceremony, that this is a one-time deal.