CNN Caught Using Screenshot From Video Game To Illustrate Russian Hacking

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Amid all of the uproar over fake news, CNN has gotten caught passing off animation from a video game as an actual illustration of hacking. The video clip aired December 30, 2016. In it, CNN cut in footage from a Fallout 4 mini-game in the B-roll meant to be a demonstration of real-life hacking committed by the Russian government. The misstep isn’t helping CNN make their case about either hacking, or the propagation of fake news stories.


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Reddit User Poofylicious explains it with this image:


The gaff occurs about one minute into the clip. While the discussion focuses in on President-elect Trump’s view on Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the 2016 election, the image appears. The image is intended to have show the sinister and sophisticated nature of hacking, but gamers familiar with Fallout 4 weren’t fooled.

The CNN video includes a statement from Trump, too. The President-elect has taken significant criticism for a comment he made that appeared to suggest his own technological expertise was less than impressive. “I think we ought to get on with our lives,” Trump said. “I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”


The unscripted nature of Trump’s comments, though, are not new. CNN, a media outlet indispensable to the political left, is also accustomed to controversy. Using the illustration from a video game, though, just seems like lazy journalism.

Kotaku.com points to other misuses of gaming imagery in political coverage.


“CNN certainly isn’t the first news agency to incorporate video games into their coverage of global affairs. Several years back, a report by the BBC used the UNSC symbol from Halo while talking about the United Nations. Child soldiers from the Metal Gear games have been used in news stories about actual child soldiers.”

The Kotaku write-up points to something larger. The text-based prompts in the video game image look sinister simply becasue they look foreign to most computer users who never see text prompts. We’re so accustomed to our end-user experiences that the green icons on the black screen automatically implies hacking.