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Social media erupts over PBS’ recycled fireworks footage

Posted at 12:22 PM, Jul 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-05 12:22:52-04

WASHINGTON — The big Fourth of July fireworks display in Washington was a bit subdued Monday night, thanks to cloudy, overcast skies that made viewing difficult.

But not if you watched PBS’ “A Capitol Fourth” broadcast. Big, blazing fireworks displays full of color and sparkle exploded in clear skies over the nation’s capital during portions of the broadcast.

How’s that possible?

Because PBS was trying to do you a “favor.” PBS admitted the poor weather inspired them to mix live firework shots with old “A Capitol Fourth” footage to give viewers “the best possible television viewing experience.” The broadcasting service also called its actions “the patriotic thing to do.”

Problem was, PBS never acknowledged this during the live broadcast and put out its explanatory tweet hours after the show had ended, giving Twitter’s outrage machine more than enough time to smack PBS over the head about it. The hashtag #Fake4th got pretty popular.

People called PBS a liar ….

… and did their own side-by-side comparisons.

Of course, with this being social media and all, someone had to outraged by the outrage, like this man who urged folks to “find something real to be bothered about.”

In addition to the suddenly clear skies seen in the old footage, there was another big clue to viewers that something wasn’t quite right: the U.S. Capitol dome, currently shrouded in scaffolding during a renovation, is obstruction-free in the old footage.

Did PBS really believe people wouldn’t notice? They did.