August 08, 2004

Beheading hoax video producer says criticism is unfair

Robert Martin & Laurie Kirchner, co-producers of the Ben Vanderford beheading video hoax that came out yesterday, have released a press release complaining about how they have been treated unfairly in the press (up through and including various blogs).

This video is not meant to be a pro or anti war commentary. The comments of Ben in the movie regarding ending the occupation were simply emphasize realism in what someone being held hostage would have potentially said while pleading for their life. How the video should be viewed is that it exposes problems in the media. We rely much too heavily on Reuters and Associated Press for our media coverage. After the Middle Eastern networks aired the videos obtained via the internet--not posted on any websites by us as reported by fox news, AP and Reuters picked it up. Then plenty of news organizations began playing it as fact. Stop and think how a similar, but much more harmful hoax could be conducted. Physical evidence should be the new standard in the modern digital age, rather than grainy videos.

It is not like we purposefully dragged this hoax out in any manner, or ever sent the video to any news or law enforcement saying it was true. To the contrary, as soon as the story broke Benjamin Vanderford immediately confirmed that it was a hoax. Perhaps if they had attempted to contact Ben before publishing the story as true, none of this "hoax" business would have ever occured--after all his home address is in the video. Shortly after the video was made we forgot about it, until Ben was woken up last Saturday.

If you check Kazaa, there are other faked death videos being shared. We never envisioned the scale our video would be published--this scope is thanks to lazy organizations such as AP and Reuters who published it, and Fox News who continues to run the story of the "hoax" more than any other network.

If Fox and a few other TV networks really are sensitive to the families they would have done as other networks have largely done--which is to not air the story on tv. Or perhaps AP and Reuters could have just done responsible journalism in the first place and this never would have happened. But it's easier to blame Ben and the video producers rather than take on the worldwide problem we have in news reporting.

We are also shocked by the reaction of some educated people. For example, from Crystal Carreon's Mercury News article: "``It's a cheap shot,'' said Theodore Glasser, Stanford University professor of communications. ``It's like bombing a building to see if security measures are in place. . . . You don't demonstrate something like that at the public's expense.''

The FBI is still investigating the hoax, and has not stated whether or not charges will be pending.

Here's hoping that Vanderford and his friends' antics will get him in enough trouble that no one else will try the same kind of asshat stunt.

Posted by mhking at August 8, 2004 06:59 PM

He has co-producers? What is this, a Miramax movie??

Posted by: Tom Galvin at August 8, 2004 07:13 PM

I'm afraid I've neglected my role to be unfairly critical of these ... persons. No doubt I will correct this gross oversight after dinner.


Posted by: Deb at August 8, 2004 07:38 PM

I'm a complete 180 from you on this. I think that the FBI ought to be investigating the decision processes in various wire services and newsrooms as to how such a hoax got on air in the first place.

Don't these people fact-check or investigate anything anymore?

In the rush to be first, the competition in the news industry is increasingly inaccurate and downright dangerous.

Just wait until the story is on the level of shotuing fire in a movie house. Given time, it will get there, and people will get hurt while the news executives line their pockets with bonuses.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at August 8, 2004 08:29 PM

What's this about "trouble"?

If this little schmuck is in "trouble", shouldn't Michael Moore, who lies through his miserable teeth, be in "trouble"?

Posted by: Ward Gerlach at August 8, 2004 08:31 PM

I nominate Benjamin Vanderford for CATSBRAIN of the week.

See to award at:

Thanks for the link mhking!

Posted by: Wild Bill at August 8, 2004 09:53 PM

If this isn't a case of crying "Fire!" in a crowded theater, I don't know what is...

Posted by: SparseMatrix at August 8, 2004 11:20 PM

Maybe it'll raise awareness that it could happen here, in the United States.

Yeah, he's a dumbass for making it, but maybe the markings that labled it as a fake (in the filename?) got lost.

As for the co-producers: It'd take at least two, more likely three. One to behead, one to be beheaded, and likely one to run the camera.

Posted by: Firethorn at August 9, 2004 06:24 AM

Hey, nice back hair.

Posted by: Beck at August 9, 2004 06:41 AM

The guy's a Michael Moore wannabe, complete with the righteous indignation when people don't react to his work the way he wants them to.

Posted by: McGehee at August 9, 2004 08:21 AM


Nobody got killed by this guy's actions, so apparently you don't know what shouting fire in a crowded theater is.

If you're looking for an example of the media hyping up something to the point of people getting sick, hurt or killed I'd suggest looking back to the Anthrax panic attacks the media had after 9/11. Loks of folks scrambled for shots and cipro based on the media's hype when it turned out the deranged Anthrax-sender appeared to be targeting the media and a few (media-whore) politicians. Ordinary people outisde the lifecycle of the Anthrax letter from sender to target like you and me were not at risk, but you couldn't tell from the media hype the Merchants of Panic and Profit were drumming up.

And then there's this low-carb craze the news shows seem to be helping the low-carb profiteers to plug. We'll see how many people get serious organ damage or failure or coronary artery blockage from the amount of fats they're chugging down in place of carbs in this Atkins frenzy.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at August 9, 2004 10:08 AM

The media is upset because it was exposed for running with a story that hadn't been fact checked. They're not going to applaud this guy. Don't buy into their arguments. They are trying to justify their actions while behind the scenes they're trying to fix what broke.

Consider this: if a 22-year old and his friends can get the media to promote a hoax *without trying* imagine what an entity like the government (or a news channel) could accomplish.

Skepticism is healthy, especially when watching media outlets (TV, blogs) that try to "scoop" a story. FYI, there have been worse hoaxes. During The War of the Worlds broadcast people actually died because they believed Martians were coming.

If news media outlets really cared about the families, they'd let it go instead of re-airing footage.

If you step back, you'll see that this "bad thing" actually helped us. Live rationally, not hatefully. You'll learn what to get riled up about when you see true injustices.

If you were fooled by the hoax, relax. It didn't happen. Be more patient in your daily rush to judgment. The media was fooled, and the people who made the video made no effort to promote it.

Don't feel bad for Mr. Turner and Mr. Murdoch. Demand more of them. We need honest eyes and ears, or else worse wars are imaginable.

Posted by: Horatio Algebra at August 11, 2004 01:10 PM

I just couldnt help but respond to some of these idiotic posts.

Some people are still spouting out opinions and quasi quoting the Reuters and AP article about Ben and I.

> nominate Benjamin Vanderford for CATSBRAIN of >the week.

Its good to see how many jelous people there are out there. Personal attacks on benjamen are great to witness because the people who usually do them, im guessing, are very mundane, boring people in real life.
If you tried to have an intelligent conversation with them you wouldnt get very far because they are extremely normal. Nothing to offer society except an extremely plain personality & personal attacks on other people who do very creative things.

>If this isn't a case of crying "Fire!" in a >crowded theater, I don't know what is...

First off we didnt send the video to anyone.
If you use that analogy the media ( ap reuters, and fox news ) are the ones who cried "fire" .
This war on terror is bullshit, everything about is fake.

>As for the co-producers: It'd take at least >two, more likely three. One to behead, one to >be beheaded, and likely one to run the camera.

Where can i meet you in real life so we can discuss these ideas? I have a feeling you are a very small passive person who takes his anger out on people only on the internet. It's okay you are not alone, many people do this.

If anyone has anything else to say about Ben, or I feel free to e-mail me

Robert ( coproducer)

Posted by: Robbie at August 15, 2004 04:18 PM

Oh shit, hahaha I forgot to mention that if you go to that guys "Catbrain" awards webpage there is something very revealing there.

He claims to be able to see Ben's scrotum in the photograph he puts up. He took te effort in photoshop to draw an arrow pointing to bens "scrotum".

No one else ive showed the picture to can see it. And no one has pointed it out besides Wild Bill at passionate america.

How hard were you looking at Ben's genital area and for how long before you thought you "Found" his scrotum?

I just thought this was an interesting revelation about Wild Bill.


Posted by: Robbie at August 15, 2004 04:23 PM

No responses?

I guess you guys were all talk...


Posted by: Robbie at August 17, 2004 07:33 PM
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