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ABC News criticized for ‘misrepresenting’ Israel conflict footage

This story has been updated since it was originally posted. Click here to read the update.

ABC News has come under fire for its presentation of news footage that some say misrepresents scenes in Gaza City as taking place in neighboring Israel.

The activist website Electronic Intifada posted an article on Wednesday along with a video that shows a portion of an ABC News broadcast from Tuesday evening. In the broadcast, news anchor Diane Sawyer is shown delivering the introduction to a story on recent fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces prompted by the recent murders of four teenagers in the region.

In the introduction, Sawyer describes “rockets reigning down on Israel” while news footage in an over-the-shoulder computer graphic shows scenes of destruction in the Palestinian city of Gaza.

The screen then cuts to an image of a Palestinian family gathering belongings from a destroyed building, which Sawyer describes as “an Israeli family trying to salvage what they can.” A second image is displayed of a Palestinian woman standing amid rubble.

Several hundred people took to Twitter on Wednesday posting a demand that ABC issue a correction:


Though Sawyer is the target of online criticism, the mistake was likely the result of a production error. As of Wednesday evening, ABC News has not commented on the story and the full segment is still available to stream on the network’s website.

In the segment, footage of Israelis running for shelter is shown as civil defense sirens wail in the background. ABC News correspondent Alex Marquardt the describes Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system before cutting to video footage of Palestinian children fleeing from a rocket strike.

The renewed conflict in the region has proven to be tough for some international news organizations, not just ABC. Earlier this week, a CNN reporter was confronted during a live broadcast by an Israeli solder who told the crew that filming the Iron Dome was prohibited.

Update: ABC News released a statement Thursday morning addressing at least one of the three controversies with the “World News” segment that aired on Tuesday.

In the statement, ABC News said the introduction to the story “mistakenly identified a family depicted in a still photo,” adding that the family that was shown in the broadcast “are Palestinian, not Israeli.”

“We regret the error and will correct it,” the statement read.

The network did not say if the correction would be delivered on-air. ABC also did not address Sawyer’s introduction describing missile attacks on Israel while news footage showing rockets landing in Gaza City played in a computer graphic next to the anchor. Critics used the production error to charge ABC with misrepresenting the situation in the region.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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