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Bloggers Uncover Possible CNN Video Fraud

Members of the popular blog Little Green Footballs have noticed discrepancies in a CNN video report purporting to show the death of a Gaza child.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 1/12/2009, 10:41 PM

The popular American blog Little Green Footballs (LGF), run by Charles Johnson, has uncovered several discrepancies in a video report from Gaza that purports to show the death and burial of a 12-year-old boy. The video was aired on CNN and Channel 4 news in Britain.

The dramatic video shows last-ditch efforts to save the life of young Mahmoud Mashharawi, news anchors said. However, Mahmoud cannot be revived, and the video moves on to show his grieving family and the beginnings of a hasty burial. The video footage was allegedly recorded by none other than Mahmoud's older brother, Ashraf Mashharawi, a freelance photographer in Gaza.

The Mashharawi family claimed that Mahmoud and a 14-year-old cousin were killed by an Israeli drone while playing on their rooftop. Relatives blamed a small guided missile fired by the unmanned drone for the boys' death. Their claim was repeated by news anchors, with a British reporter making the dramatic proclamation that, “Israel, equipped with the most technologically advanced guided missiles and video target selection that America can supply had selected, targeted and killed two more children in Gaza.”

The family did not explain how it was known that a drone was responsible, and no member of the family claimed to have witnessed the attack itself. IDF spokesmen say they are unfamiliar with any such incident.

Johnson began questioning the report soon after it aired. It opens with doctors supposedly making frantic efforts to save the child, but as talkbacks on the LGF site pointed out, the doctors were lightly massaging the child's stomach and not frantically pounding his chest as one might expect.

Other members of the site soon raised similar questions, asking why the boy did not appear to be receiving any transfusions or medication while doctors reportedly tried to save him, why the rooftop on which he was allegedly killed appeared damaged over only a small area and why pictures of the boy showed no injury to his face or head while an accompanying CNN report said he had been “hit in the head and all over his body by shrapnel.”

Click here to see the CNN report.

The site's members quickly began demanding that CNN and Ashraf Mashharawi release the original footage that was edited to become the CNN report. The demands were rebuffed by reporter Paul Martin, who first sent Mashharawi's film to Western media.

After making statements praising Mashharawi as a professional and respected reporter, Martin contacted the LGF site to defend his video. Martin attacked Johnson and LGF for questioning the footage, saying, “No one in their right mind would suggest that any person would allow doctors to play games with a dying or dead younger brother. The idea is bizarre and deeply insulting.... I think a decent apology to Ashraf might be in order.”

However, Martin's letter raised new questions, as he admitted to having sent the video to major media outlets without actually watching it beforehand.

Meanwhile, CNN and other outlets say the video is genuine, a claim they base on Martin's firm support for Mashharawi.

Johnson and his supporters have uncovered major cases of news-related fraud in the past. Little Green Footballs was behind the discovery of photo manipulation regarding a story on an Iranian missile test, and also uncovered several photoshopped images and staged pictures from southern Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War. In addition, the site has been the first to break shocking images from anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rallies from across America.