CNN goes Pallywood: Strike five

Yesterday in “The return of Pallywood?” I wrote about the story and video broadcast on CNN this past Thursday depicting the purported death a 12-year-old Gaza resident. I noted four strikes against the authenticity of the story.

The story was brought to us by one Ashraf Mashharawi, the older brother of the purported victim. In rejecting critiques of the video online, CNN quoted Paul Martin of World News & Features on the bona fides of Mashharawi:

“He’s a man of enormous integrity and would never get involved with any sort of manipulation of images, let alone when the person dying is his own brother,” Martin said. “I know the whole family. I know them very well. … [Mashharawi] is upset and angry that anyone would think of him having done anything like this. … This is ridiculous. He’s independent.”

Yet Charles Johnson found Mashharawi was the operator of the main Hamas website and the website of Hamas’ radio station Voice of Al Aqsa. In an update yesterday, Charles noted that the official website of the Hamas television station (Aqsa TV) was registered by Mashharawi’s company.

On this point CNN quoted Paul Martin rejecting the accusations. According to Martin, the accusation was falsely based on Mashharawi having worked at a company that created the PS suffix to allow anyone of any political persuasion to create Palestinian Web sites. Martin’s statement appears more to confirm than to contradict Charles’s discovery. In a separate update yesteray, Charles also elaborated on the Norwegian connection in the video.

In my post yesterday I failed to ring up other strikes against the video that have been called by Ed Morrissey and Bob Owens (more here). Ed itemizes the following points:

• Take a look at the blood on the operating table. For penetrating wounds, there is almost no blood, and what little there is looks washed out — almost orange. The body should have been covered in blood, and much more than that should have transferred to the sheets, especially if someone was giving CPR.

• The video alleges that the Israelis used a missile from an unmanned drone to attack the rooftop, but look carefully at that roof. A missile hitting that roof would have left much more than a six-inch-diameter impact crater, even if it didn’t explode.

• Also, the plastic chair is sitting normally in the blast zone, and the clothes remain on the clothesline in the background. A missile blast that killed two boys on that roof would have done much more extensive damage.

Richard Landes now takes an extended look summarizing the strikes he and others have called on the video. Among other things, Professor Landes observes how weak CNN’s story defending the authenticity of the video is:

What’s most appalling about this article — but will eventually, I suspect, redound to CNN’s discredit — is that they ran this article based on the denial of two already committed sources. CNN made no effort to corroborate any of this. It’s just “he said, she said.”

Professor Landes makes an important point about Mashharawi’s purported independence:

The idea that a cameraman working in Gaza is not a militant for the Palestinian cause (perhaps not Hamas, but even that’s unlikely in the last years), is close to preposterous. No genuine independent could survive there for any period of time.

For striking examples of purportedly independent wire service photographers cooperating in the production of staged images in Gaza, see my Weekly Standard article “He didn’t give at the office.” (The wire service photographers discussed in my article worked for the AP and Reuters.) My Standard article opens with reference to the al-Dura hoax perpetrated by France 2’s Charles Enderlin in September 2000. Alluding to his experience deconstructing the al-Dura hoax, Professor Landes closes by calling for the rest of the video footage shot by Mashharawi:

What we need is the rushes that Ashraf Mashharawi shot that day, that we see in edited form. Like the rushes of Talal, we’ll be able to judge better what was going on that day if we could see them. And unlike Talal’s rushes, let’s see them uncensored. I suspect we won’t, because when it comes to the clash between Palestinian journalism, channeled through advocacy journalists, the clash between narrative and evidence is so great, they cannot afford to let us see.

I may be wrong. This may be genuine footage. I am open to being convinced so. But let us see the evidence.

As Professor Landes himself suggests, it’s unlikely that we are going to get the additonal footage. We’re going to have judge the video based on the information available to date. For the time being, I’m calling strike five on it.

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