MH17 and the Misinformation Wars

Graham Phillips

Likely that no aviation disaster in history has been mired in as much misinformation as flight MH17, which came down July 17th 2014 near the town of Torez, Donbass, some 70km from the city of Donetsk.

Before any investigation had even begun, the day after on July 18th, the Sun, in the UK, was screaming ‘Putin’s Missile’ – Putins Missile

But not just the Sun, as broadsheets which should have known better were quick to start spreading the same story of a ‘separatist’ BUK – The Times declaring on July 19thMH17 lost after rebels shot down wrong jet‘. To back this up, they included a graphic with a litany of mistakes, including entirely incorrect passenger numbers –


In the immediate aftermath, much significance was attached to a post made on Vkontakte by a group identifying itself as representing former Novorossiyan militia leader Igor Srelkov, claiming credit for shooting down a Ukrainian transport plane, AN-26. The post went up at 5:50pm (MSK), with MH17 having come down at around 5:15pm, it was deleted later that day when further details emerged.

Strelkov MH17

Yet Strelkov has stated he does not operate the Vkontakte page, rather it is a ‘fan page’. More, the vast difference in sizes between the planes – AN-26 at 78 feet, Boeing 777 at 242 feet, and it being immediately apparent it was a passenger plane, make it highly unlikely anyone connected to NAF would have issued this statement. More likely someone heard about a crash and in the rush for a hot story, put up the first posting in the hope of an exclusive.

1mh14Propping up the polemic of a ‘separatist BUK’, comes ‘open source journalism‘ agency, Bellingcat. In reality, an operation run by a discredited media studies dropout caught out suppressing information in the Syrian war, Eliot Higgins (right). Supposedly funded by ‘crowdfunding’ yet heavily linked to supporting causes with wealthy backers, Bellingcat cobbled together a report based on photos and videos supposedly found across social media sites, and one from Paris Match, in which shadows seemed to play a key part in a Bellingcat analysis described by German image forensics expert Jens Kriese as ‘subjective and not based entirely on science’

Fullscreen capture 13072015 123036.bmp

Off the back of this, Bellingcat have been a bulwark of the BUK theory, prominently referenced across western media, the MH17 Wikipedia page. No matter Bellingcat’s findings have been frequently discredited, the western media continues to reference them. Now Bellingcat have never been to the site, this was my message to Bellingcat, from the MH17 site –

As for those towing the pro-Kiev line of a ‘separatist BUK’, who have been to the site, Jeroen AkkermansDutch journalist Jeroen Akkermans (right), whose anti-Russian stance has been alleged to be because of his own wounding by presumed Russian bombing in South Ossetia, was there in November 2014, four months after the crash, apparently found small fragments, which later rather miraculously, after an unofficial investigation, turned out to be such part of a ‘BUK’ as to have even Russian markings on them. This, after Akkermans had taken whatever he found, if you believe he found it, off the site, of his own volition, before submitting it to the unofficial examination. However these myriad irregularities have been overlooked by a western media gleeful
at finding something they can call a ‘separatist BUK‘.

Incidentally here was my message to Akkermans –

Rudy BoumaThen, most recently, Akkermans’ countryman, prominent tv journalist Rudy Bouma, (left), posted a tweet that the mayor of the village of Rozsypne, by the crash site, had been, well, read the tweet –  ‘#DNR authorities replaced mayor Rozsypne for showing compassion to bereaved flight #MH17without asking permission“.

Bouma was challenged on this tweet, proceeding to back down by the tweet – before deleting his original tweet. But, by then, the story had gone big in Dutch media, becoming a headline story in the Netherlands.

Rudy Bouma 1 Rudy Bouma 2

So, there it is – headlines based on no investigation at all, mis-attributed social media posts, spurious conclusions based on photos in magazines, parts either planted or looted from the site, headline news based on deleted tweets….

And you wonder why people are confused about MH17?

2 thoughts on “MH17 and the Misinformation Wars”

  1. Don’t you always hate it when you pass a flatbed on the highway, and the load is just this enormous blurry gray mass, like it’s in a parallel universe? I know I do.

    Thanks, Graham.


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