A CNN report on Oct. 9 showed a news crew in Israel taking shelter in a roadside ditch during a rocket attack. But social media posts used fabricated audio of the news coverage to falsely claim the reporters were “faking an attack.” The audio was altered by a conservative commentary organization that acknowledged “the voice over isn’t real.”
The Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, launching rockets from Gaza and infiltrating the Israeli border by air, ground and sea to target civilians and soldiers and take hostages. Israel responded by declaring war on Hamas, mobilizing its military reservists and starting airstrikes on Gaza.
More than 5,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed in the war, as of Oct. 23, the United Nations said, citing the Gaza Ministry of Health and Israeli official sources, respectively.
Meanwhile, the conflict has been a source for widespread misinformation online.
Journalists in the region have been at risk due to their proximity to ground assaults and fired missiles. At least 23 journalists covering the conflict have been confirmed dead, with 11 others injured, missing or detained, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit that “defend[s] the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.”
One news crew caught up near ongoing attacks was a CNN team led by chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward on Oct. 9. While Ward’s team was preparing to cover the route that Hamas militants took during its Oct. 7 attack, Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted rockets overhead, forcing the team to shelter in a roadside ditch.
In the days following Ward’s coverage, social media posts shared an altered version of the news coverage, which added audio of a fake phone call between a CNN producer and Ward’s team, directing them to “look nice and scared” and purportedly adding explosion sound effects — giving the impression that the news coverage was faked.
An Oct. 16 Instagram post read, “CNN Get Caught Faking an Attack From Hamas in Israel,” on screen, as well as a caption claiming, “in order to EXAGGERATE the narrative CNN is FAKING CONTENT!”
Another Instagram post, which has received over 2,700 likes, has the words “Leaked Footage … Directors Edition” added on screen, with a caption that claims, “CNN is done after this. Bye bye fake news.”
But the audio was added to the news report “satirically” by The Quartering, a conservative commentary organization. While the organization clarified that one of its editors added the voiceover as a parody, the social media posts lack this context — leading many social media users to believe the audio is real.
A CNN spokesperson told us in an email, “The audio in the video posted and shared on X is fabricated, inaccurate and irresponsibly distorts the reality of the moment that was covered live on CNN, which people should watch in full for themselves on a trusted platform.”
We should note that while The Quartering acknowledged that the audio was not real, the organization continues to claim the CNN team was “acting” to exaggerate the danger of the situation.
“Yes of course the voice over isn’t real but the fake acting IS real,” posted The Quartering on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Oct. 10. In a video posted to YouTube on Oct. 13, the organization’s host continued, “the intent of that video was never to convince people that [the audio] was real. It was to point out those actors, those CNN news actors, were very clearly acting.”
False claims that news reports are being fabricated are popular during ongoing wars, as we’ve written before.
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TheQuartering (@TheQuartering). “A few people missed the fact that this is an into from the longer coverage lol. Yes of course the voice over isn’t real but the fake acting IS real. :).” Twitter. 10 Oct 2023.
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