By Andrew Lee Butters
Lebanon's political parties are busy trying to blame each other for starting the violence that erupted here last week. This is producing some creative media coverage.
Here's a photo that was used at a press conference by one of the opposition's leaders -- General Michel Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement -- that purports to show a member of a rival, pro-government Christian faction -- the Lebanese Forces -- firing an assault rifle during a riot between the FPM and the LF in the suburbs north of Beirut on Tuesday that was broken up by the army.
But even a quick look at the photo raises some interesting questions: why does light fall differently on the gunman than on the other figures? Why does the quality of his image appear to be so much better than the rest of the photo? And what kind of idiot fires into a whole platoon of soldiers when he's all by himself?
Apparently, the figure of the lone gunman is actually that of a Hizballah fighter lifted from a Associated Press photo taken in southern Lebanon during the war this summer with Israel, and Photoshopped onto a snapshot of Tuesday's riot with a LF cross added to his sleeve for good measure.
LF officials are indignant. But pro-govenrment partisans are not completely blameless themselves in the faux news department. Future Television, the Sunni loyalist station par excellence, was showing live footage on Thursday of young men throwing rocks whom the tut-tutting Future reporters identified as Shia rabble rousers from the Hizballah-led opposition. The ruse fell apart when some of the young men shouted impolite suggestions for things Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah could do to pass the time. Quick, cut to a commercial!
Again for the record, on Thursday I saw guys with guns on both sides of the battle. They were little green men from outer space, and as soon as I learn to use Photoshop, it will be a TIME exclusive.
View a video of the photo-editing in action
Sources: Time Middle East Blog, Jeha's Nail
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