Just As I Thought

Bewildered or beheaded?

Now, this is odd: a website video has been released showing yet another American beheaded in Iraq.
ABC News reports that the victim in the video claims to be a San Francisco man who is running for city supervisor, and no one seems to be aware that his man travelled to Iraq.

There was no way to immediately determine the authenticity of the tape and the U.S. military in Iraq and the U.S. Embassy said they were unaware of the video and had no immediate comment. There was no record of a man by that name traveling to Iraq.

… The man on the tape says he lives at 1510 Eddy Street in San Francisco. A Ben Vanderford listed at that address has a Web site in which he says he is running for supervisor of San Francisco’s District 5. The picture of Vanderford on the Web site closely resembles that of the man on the video.

… There is no mention on the Vanderford Web site of him traveling to Iraq and no record anywhere else that anyone by that name has been captured.

On the site, Vanderford says he is 22 years old, and makes music for the label Record Label Records. He also says he is an independent video game programmer.

Just an aside to ABC News: I know you’re not a newspaper, but if you publish a website perhaps a little proofreading would be in order:

New video aired Saturday purportedly shows a San Francisco man being depacitated moments after he urges the United States to end its occupation of Iraq.

I’m not sure what “depacitated” is, but it sounds tiring.

UPDATE: While all the other news outlets are running stories claiming that the man was beheaded, the AP and BBC report that the whole thing was a fake.

A man from San Francisco has admitted staging a hoax video that appeared to show him being beheaded in Iraq.

Benjamin Vanderford from San Francisco said he videotaped the fake beheading at a friend’s house using fake blood, Associated Press news agency reports.

I thought as much when I first read the story this morning, what got me was the poor factual reporting on many of the stories. Almost all of them said that the tape showed the beheading, but ABC News reported that the actual beheading was not on the tape, just a knife put to the throat. Just shows how much you can trust “journalism” these days.

The BBC’s debunking report was published at 5:30am (ET). Most of the other web news sources don’t put a time stamp on their stories, but as of 8:56am (ET) none of the other large news organizations have reported that it’s fake.

UPDATE AGAIN: Spoke too soon! Just after I posted that last update, Fox News updated their site. I refreshed the page and it changed with an updated AP story.

Evidently, this guy posted the video months ago to draw attention to his campaign for city supervisor (what the hell was he thinking?) and it only now came to light. Sad.

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