Anchors and producers for several ABC News programs found themselves in hot water this week when they mistook (or intentionally misrepresented) footage from a gun range in Kentucky for battlefield video from the conflict between Turkish and Kurdish forces in Syria.
Both World News Tonight Sunday and Good Morning America aired footage of heavy nighttime gunfire and explosions while anchors described the devolving situation between Turkish and Kurdish fighters.
“This video right here appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurdish civilians in a Syrian border town. The Kurds, who fought alongside the U.S. against ISIS. Now, horrific reports of atrocities committed by Turkish-backed fighters on those very allies,” said ABC News anchor Tom Llamas.
But after Twitter user Wojciech Pawelczyk noted the striking similarity between ABC’s footage and a video from the Knob Creek Gun Range in Kentucky, the story began to unravel.
Wow! ABC News is trying to pass gun range videos as combat footage from Syria pic.twitter.com/zfTWtwwSfZ— Wojciech Pawelczyk 🇵🇱🇺🇸 (@PolishPatriotTM) October 14, 2019
The footage ABC aired appears to be zoomed in on the explosions, but a comparison between the two videos shows clearly that the videos are one and the same.
The Knob Creek Gun Range hosts a biannual event called the Machine Gun Shoot and Military Gun Show, which includes a night shoot featuring tracer rounds and explosives.
ABC News issued an apology but has not explained how the mix-up occurred.
“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,” a network representative told the Washington Examiner, which first reported this story. “ABC News regrets the error.”
The Knob Creek Gun Range has taken the incident in stride.
“We’d like to thank ABC news for the free advertising on our Bi-Annual Machine Gun Shoot and Military Gun Show!!” the range wrote on Facebook. “Keep up the good work ABC News!!”
This isn’t the first time a news outlet has mistakenly identified war footage.
In one incident, an Egyptian news anchor tried to pass off video game footage for Russian airstrikes against ISIS. As Twitter users pointed out at the time, the grainy footage was actually from a game called Apache Air Assault.