CNN has denied staging a crowd of protesters for a news shot in the wake of the London Bridge attacks, after conservative Twitter users accused the broadcaster of manufacturing “fake news”.
In a video uploaded by user @markantro on Monday, CNN anchor Becky Anderson can be seen standing to one side while police and TV producers assist a group of Muslim women assemble a makeshift memorial featuring flowers and protest signs.
“Look at all the people around me here, behind me here, sad about last night but hopeful for tomorrow,” Anderson says in the news clip.
“On the left here, Londoners came to help hurt, behind me you can see a sign here, hashtag ‘turn to love’, hashtag ‘for London’, hashtag ‘ISIS will lose’, and flowers left in remembrance of those who left their lives.”
The original uploader described it as “#fakenews”. “CNN creating the narrative,” he tweeted. “Note the white police officers leaving before the CNN shot & the Asian officers coming in.
They then left after they went off air! Amazing thing is, I was getting called a ‘weekend warrior’ by several journalist [crews] while filming this.”
CNN caught staging news!
They even brought “peace group” printed out papers and props.
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) June 4, 2017
Amazing thing is, I was getting called a “weekend warrior” by several journalist crew while filming this 😂.
— Mark (@markantro) June 4, 2017
— Becky Anderson (@BeckyCNN) June 4, 2017
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) June 4, 2017
The video quickly went viral after it was picked up by prominent conservative social media personalities including Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins, author Mike Cernovich and Prisonplanet editor Paul Joseph Watson.
“CNN caught staging news!” Cernovich tweeted. “They even brought ‘peace group’ printed out papers and props.” Watson tweeted: “FAKE media. BBC refuses to air tape of terrorists saying ‘this [is] for Allah’. CNN stages Muslim anti-ISIS protest. We are being conned.”
Hopkins, who last month was dumped by radio station LBC over a tweet following the Manchester bombing, wrote: “WATCH. @CNN scripting a narrative. Right before your eyes.”
US media commentator Richard Grenell described it as “very disturbing”. Grenell’s tweet was retweeted by Sebastian Gorka, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump.
In response, CNN’s public relations Twitter feed replied: “This is nonsense. Police let demonstrators through the cordon to show their signs.
CNN along with other media simply filmed them doing so.”
CNN host Brian Stelter added: “Far-right twitterers are misleading folks about this video. Bloggers saying CNN was caught ‘staging fake news’.
Police allowed demonstrators thru cordon ‘so they could show their signs’ to media, @CNNPR says. CNN, BBC, AP ‘simply filmed them doing so.’”
Media website Mediaite said it “depends on one’s perspective” whether to describe it as “fake news or fake outrage”. “For those not familiar with live news production, it is actually not that uncommon for hosts and producers to arrange protesters or pedestrians behind reporter to provide a varied background,” Colby Hall wrote.
“Sources familiar with this live shoot tell Mediaite that the protesters (‘Muslim Mothers’) were already very near the location and the police simply allowed them to move behind Ms Anderson and crew.
“That said, there is reason to fairly critique this as ‘editorialising’ the shoot and not just reporting the news.
And in a climate where CNN is feeling a lot of criticism — most of which is unfounded — from the conservative corners of the internet, this footage won’t help their cause.”
Seven people were killed and 48 injured, including four Australians, when three Islamic terrorists used a van to mow down pedestrians on London Bridge before going on a stabbing spree in the popular Borough Markets on Saturday night.
The three attackers were shot dead within minutes of police arriving on scene of the attack, for which Islamic State has claimed responsibility. British police arrested 12 people in connection with the plot on Sunday.