Russian TV Channel Blames Internet For Suckering It Into Running A Fake Photo Of A Ukrainian Jet Shooting Down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17
from the unfortunately,-'society'-had-previously-been-named-in-several-other-down dept
Friday, Russia’s Channel 1 featured a photo they claimed proved a Ukrainian jet fighter shot down Malaysia Airlines flight 17 in July, only to have it disproved hours later as an obvious fake, according to Buzzfeed...
The state-run television channel presented the image, claiming it been taken moments before the passenger jet crashed in eastern Ukraine, to bolster Moscow’s contention that the passenger plane was brought down by a Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jet, killing all 298 people on board.
Because it agreed with the Russian narrative, no one at Channel One bothered looking into the validity of the photo. The (supposed) engineer presenting the "evidence" claimed the "sensational photo" came from an American MIT graduate. This lent the photo a bit of short-lived credibility, but what the engineer said about the photo's origin wasn't strictly true.
George Bilt—who said he is an MIT graduate and aviation expert with 26 years experience, but would not provide further biographical details—said that he had come across an earlier report by the Russian Union of Engineers (RUE) blaming a Ukrainian fighter jet for the crash, and thought that it concurred with his own amateur findings. When he saw the picture online, Bilt wrote to Andreyevsky, the “expert” from the broadcast, with a link to the forum where the image was posted, clearly stating that he had found it there.The photo's legitimacy was soon decimated by a number of internet sleuths.
Hours after the picture was shown, Russian and international bloggers called the image a fake, noting the logo for Malaysia Airlines was misplaced on the plane and the clouds in the picture were identical to those found in a Google Earth image from 2012. Bloggers later noted that fighter jet in the picture appeared to be a Russian MiG-29 and not an Su-27, and the the picture of the airliner looked like it had been lifted from Google Images, when requesting ‘Boeing view from above.’As was the pedigree of the "engineer" who presented the photo as fact:
The Russian Union of Engineers turned out not to add up either. Ivan Andreyevsky, the “expert” quoted in the show, does not appear to have an engineering education. A quick analysis of his PhD turned up obvious signs of plagiarism.But the fun didn't really begin until the head of the Russian Union of Engineers (Vladimir Saulyanov) defended the presentation of the fake photo as fact with a statement simultaneously sublimely ridiculous and the truest words ever spoken.
“How could we check it?” Saulyanov said. “It came to us from the internet.”With any luck, Saulyanov's Excuse will become the go-to defense when anything is erroneously published anywhere from this moment on.
And with that, the internet switched gears, crafting their own versions of Bilt's Photo (which, in his defense, was never presented as a factual depiction).
One speculated that a Nazi flying saucer was involved.
Another, crafted by Sophisticated Jane Doe of Fight Copyright Trolls, offered this equally-plausible scenario.
As for Bilt, who is now somewhat of a lightning rod for anti-Russian sentiment, he has given a long statement to Buzzfeed concerning his involvement in this debacle.
Bilt said that he was shocked to see his email, which he thought that he had written to Andreyevsky in confidence, used on Russian TV as proof of the Kremlin’s claims, citing him as a source. “I am quite unhappy that my bona fide informal attempt possibly became a source of yet another battle in a media war,” he said. “This was definitely not my intention. I am also not looking for a cheap fame. This tragedy is simply too awful to gain from it."The final sentence of his statement is at least as incisive as Saulyanov's Excuse. However, Bilt's statement carries with it the gravitas of being deliberate rather than inadvertent. When a media outlet becomes a mouthpiece for state narratives, it is everything Bilt says succinctly about Channel One's actions.
“Those folks are either desperate or totally unprofessional,” he said.I'd put some money on both.