Yesterday we reported that CNN's website was using photos of the same alleged nuclear facility in two different stories about two different nuclear programs in two different countries.
One CNN story, from last Wednesday, was on Iran's purported nuclear program; the other, from last Saturday, was on North Korea's purported nuclear program.
The satellite photos accompanying each respective story turned out to be the same facility despite captions below each photo claiming each represented an alleged facility in the respective countries discussed in each article.
Later in the day, after our report swept the net (topping out mid-afternoon at #6 on Technorati) CNN changed the photo in the North Korea article to a different satellite image of, apparently, a different facility purported --- as was the first one --- to be near Pyongyang, North Korea.
No explanation was given for the error beyond a statement by CNN, in a correction box, that "an image that was incorrectly identified..."
And now...thanks to some crack sleuthing by "EarlG", an administrator over at Democratic Underground, we've discovered yet another "news" outlet who used another photograph of that same facility --- which is apparently in Iran --- in yet another story on North Korean nukes!
The newly discovered story is from March of 2004 and found on the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website!
RFE/RL is a U.S. government funded "news" organization broadcasting over Europe!
And to make matters even more troubling and/or confusing, the filename of the photo used in the RFE/RL story is "Iraq-nuclear.jpg"!
Here is a screenshot from the RFE/RL story which shows the same facility as seen in the photos used with both of the CNN stories:
Here again are the photos from the two different CNN stories (prior to the so-far-unexplained "correction" by CNN):
And here is a side-by-side comparison of the photo from CNN's Iran story again, next to a rotated shot of the photo from RFE/RL's story on North Korea:
So we ask again, what the hell is going on here? And, again, who are the sources for these photographs that keep running with stories on both North Korea and Iran?
As we asked in yesterday's piece, is the source for these photos "someone who may have an interest in ginning-up fears over the two so-far unconquered players in Bush's 'Axis of Evil'?"
Or is it all just an innocent mix-up, as some commenters have suggested?
That "innocent mix-up" explanation certainly becomes more difficult to swallow now that the very same facility has shown up again, apparently errantly, in a story from almost a year ago, on an entirely different site, and one which is funded by the U.S. Government!
As well, it's worth noting that RFE/RL's "corporate board of directors is composed of the nine Presidential appointees to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which has oversight responsibility for all nonmilitary U.S. government-funded international broadcasting activities" according to their website's "Mission Statement".
And now we must wonder why the RFE/RL photo was named "Iraq-nuclear.jpg"?! Just another "innocent mix-up"???
In regards to CNN's two stories, we have finally reached someone at CNN who has promised to get back to us with comment on the CNN-related questions from yesterday. We will, of course, share their explanation here if and when it's received.
We have asked RFE/RL for comment as well, and they too have promised a reply on this matter. The author of their North Korean piece, Mark Baker, RFE/RL's "deputy managing editor of the News and Current Affairs Department", apparently works out of Europe, however, and thus the time difference may delay a reply from him on this matter.
UPDATE 2/16/05: Same photo also used on Iraq stories at RFE/RL! While all North Korea and Iraq stories have now had the photo scrubbed from their web pages! Updated story with details here...