Debunking Russian fakes. No, Ukrainian hackers didn’t interrupt CBS News broadcast with a video urging not to support Trump 

Yana Sliemzina - 31 May 2024 | 20:40

At the end of May 2024, Russian social networks spread the news about Ukrainian hackers hacking the live broadcast of the American TV channel CBS News New York and interrupting it with a video that urged Americans not to support Trump. Our fact-checking department figured out what’s wrong with that information. 

What happened? 

On May 23, Telegram channels pro-Russian like “Шейх Тамир,” “Денацификация UA,” “Голос Мордора” and others started mass-spreading the news that, on May 22, a group of Ukrainian hackers “disrupted” a broadcast of a regional channel CBS News New York with a video that contained threats to Trump with a call for Americans not to attend his rally. 

“In a video, connected events are shown: the death of Iranian president Raisi, an attack on [Slovak prime minister Robert] Fico, and an attempt to assassinate Serbian president Vučić. At the end of the set, a photo of Trump is demonstrated,” the posts say. 

Russian media outlets helped boost the news like Новости Сибири [Siberian News from Russian — ed.], as well as accounts in X and TikTok, accounts on social network Vkontakte and other Russian online platforms


CBS News New York channel 

The video has a logo of CBS2 and CBS News New York. It’s an American regional channel in New York that’s a part of the TV network CBS News. Apart from the official website, they have pages on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and X.

We’ve checked official CBS News channels and figured that they didn’t post any information about the alleged hacking of the channel on May 22. 

Video analysis 

The video starts from the frames of the TV channel’s broadcast. At the seventh second, the live stream stops at 8:17 a.m. At the eighth second, the Trump-related video clip starts, lasting 47 seconds. Then, at the 55th second, the video clip ends and a black screen appears. The live stream starts again at the 57th second of the video. The time displayed on the screen remains 8:17 a.m. The overall duration of a video is 1 minute, 10 seconds. 

The video clip interrupting the live stream has a background with Ukrainian flag colors, a Ukrainian coat of arms, and other “Ukrainian” attributes. The clip shows fragments of generally available videos, e.g., videos of American politicians Trump’s speeches, slides with information about the president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, Slovak prime minister Robert Fico, and Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vučić. 

It also has provocative titles in Ukrainian that are voiced over by an altered, technical voice. In all capital letters, the titles are, “Plan to go to Trump’s rally? Think twice… Ukraine’s enemies will be punished Ukraine’s enemy is America’s enemy stay home ignore the rally glory to Ukraine!” 

Screencaps from Trump’s speeches are followed by subtitles that read, in all caps, “Liar,” “Traitor,” and “Murderer.”

We’ve compared the original CBS News video from the corresponding broadcast to the video the Telegram channels posted.

We’ve figured out that the video in the news has different interactive elements at the bottom of the screen: a news ticker is different, the intervals between displaying time and temperature at the bottom of the screen are different, as well as the time display.  

Another proof of this video being manufactured is that the feed on the bottom is static and displays one city, Greenwich, with a weekly weather forecast. In original live streams of CBS News New York, the weather forecast for different cities is displayed. In a span of a minute, they cover a forecast in about seven cities is displayed. 

So, in this case, we aren’t dealing with Ukrainians hacking into CBS NEWS New York’s livestream, but with Russian propaganda aimed at discrediting Ukraine. To create a fake video, propagandists took fragments of the original livestream for May 22 and added custom slides and original text to several combined publicly available videos. 

Conclusion: Fake 

Author: Anna Ormanzhi 

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