Media Blog

Credulous Press Gets Photo Caption Entirely Backwards

This isn’t pretty. The photographer who took one of the pictures in dispute during the Lebanon fauxtography dust-up has provided a behind-the-scenes look at what happened on an Internet forum for pro photographers. He isn’t pleased with the way his photo was used.

In TIME magazine, the photo of a Hezbollah gunman with burning wreckage in the background appeared with the caption, “The wreckage of a downed Israeli jet that was targeting Hizballah trucks billows smoke behind a Hizballah gunman in Kfar Chima, near Beirut.” (U.S. News also used the photo with the same caption.)
First of all, the original caption submitted by photographer Bruno Stevens used the word “allegedly,” which Western editors ignored in their credulous rush to buy the idea that lowly Hezbollah guerillas had brought down an Israeli jet. On August 12 — a month after this photo ran — Hezbollah shot down an IDF helicopter. But according to a cursory review of the relevant coverage, Hezbollah has never shot down an Israeli jet.
What’s more, the photographer later sent in a revised caption explaining what really happened:

Kfar Chima, near Beirut, July 17, 2006 The Israeli Air Force bombed a group of Hezbollah chartered trucks parked on the back of large Lebanese Army barracks , at least one of these trucks contained a medium range ground to ground missile launcher, at least one missile was hit, misfiring high into the sky before falling down and starting a huge fire in the barracks’ parking lot.

So the burning wreckage was not, in fact, a downed Israeli jet. It was a Hezbollah target that an Israeli jet obliterated. The press got it completely backwards.
Big hat tips to LGF, Michelle and Allah.