ABC News has said it erred when it aired footage from a Kentucky military show a “Slaughter in Syria” over the weekend. But the gun range that hosts the show in question isn’t buying it.
“From our point of view it had to be intentionally,” Chad Sumner, a representative of the range, told Pluralist in a Facebook exchange. “The original video has the crowd at the bottom of the video. [Their] edited video does not show the crowd.”
When ABC News anchor Tom Llamas introduced the dramatic footage on Sunday, he suggested that it showed Turkey massacring Kurdish civilians in Syria.
“This video, right here, appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town,” Llamas said.
However, online commentators were quick to note that the explosions in the ABC News footage were identical to those seen in a YouTube video of a 2017 military show at the Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, titled “Knob Creek night shoot 2017.”
As Sumner also pointed out, people holding up their phones to record the explosions are not visible in the ABC News version.
After widespread criticism and mockery, ABC News issued a statement Monday admitting it had made an “error” and took down the video.
Asked why ABC News might intentionally mislead its viewers, Sumner, whose fathers owns the Knob Creek Gun Range, said: “Who knows! Seems like the news is not news anymore. It’s what they, the media, want you to believe to push their agenda.”
On Monday, in a post to its Facebook page, the Kentucky gun range sarcastically thanked ABC News for the “free advertising” in the aftermath of the controversy.
The post so far has been shared 5,000 times.
We’d like to thank ABC news for the free advertising on our Bi-Annual Machine Gun Shoot and Military Gun Show!! Keep up…
An hour later, the Knob Creek Gun Range shared an image jokingly referring to “The Turkish Invasion in Kentucky”:
We loved this so much we had to share it!! #knobcreekgunrange #machinegunshoot
So far, that post has garnered nearly 6,000 shares.
Knob Creek Gun Range’s skepticism toward ABC News’ explanation echoes the reactions of many right-leaning commentators, who questioned on Twitter whether the outlet was tricked or had willfully deceived viewers.
Diehard Trump supporters have hailed the president for defying the foreign policy establishment and fulfilling his promise to pull the United States out of costly and unwinnable foreign entanglements.
However, Republicans and Democrats have condemened Trump for abandoning the Kurds, who allied with the United States to fight the Islamic State.
More recently, and somewhat contradictorily, critics have also decried the president for allowing Syrian forces to move into the region as part of a new alliance with the Kurds, saying it empowers Damascus-aligned U.S. adversaries Iran and Russia.
ABC News did not immediately respond to Pluralist’s request for further explanation of its decision to run the misleading footage.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Tom Llamas.