In Lebanon, Tv stations “photoshopped” a presidential slip seen by millions

President Michel Aoun had a weird slip of the tongue during a live televised event, in front of an army officers’ graduating promotion marking the 73rd “Army Day” in Lebanon. 

Aoun, who was witnessing on Wednesday army officers taking the oath at the military academy, in Fayadieh, called the graduation promotion “Dawn Of The Apes” — فجر القرود, instead of “Dawn Of The Outskirts” — “فجر الجرود”, where both words might sound a bit similar in Arabic, with only one letter in difference.

Outskirts of Arsal

In fact, the expression “Dawn Of The Outskirts”, was the official name of the military operation, in which the Lebanese Army fought militants on the outskirts of a town called Arsal, in eastern Bekaa, in northeast Lebanon, ending last year, a years-long threat posed to neighboring towns and villages by terrorists stationed in a remote corner near Syrian border.

In spite of the viral video of the presidential “slip of the tongue” spreading over social media #فجر_القرود , in addition to being reported by a number of arabic news websites; several major local TV stations, including the official — Governmental — TV stations “TELE LIBAN”, decided to edit the original footage during their primetime news broadcast to “photoshop” the “Apes” out of Aoun’s mouth and use an old audio clip to insert the word “Outskirts” instead.

Notwithstanding other TV stations, OTV (Orange TV), who was founded in 2007 by Michel Aoun himself, and which today speaks on behalf of the Free Patriotic movement (FPM), a political party also founded by Aoun, decided to withdraw from this dilemma, by stadingout and just leave the important moment from the army graduation day away from its audience and decide not to even show the clip during their primetime news, an act that was noticeable by Future TV, backed by caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Centralized work?

By comparing news clips run by local TV stations in Lebanon on the evening of the incident, during the primetime news, it seem that the presidential video has been edited by the same way, using the same old audio clip to substitute the word “Apes” for “Outskirts”, which pose questions whether the people in charge of the news broadcast did this “photoshopping” act by themselves or was it done and therefore distributed by the presidential media office run by Rafic Chlala.

A previous “presidential act”

In mid February 2014, Lebanon was slammed by news agencies over a “fake” image coming from the third presidency in Lebanon, when the president media office published a doctored image of the newly formed cabinet of ministers, taken on the steps of the presidential palace in Baabda in the presence of, back then, president Michel Sleiman and “longlasting” parliament speaker Nabih Berri.


Presidential media adviser (left) replaced with Parliament Speaker in the ”official“ handout picture.

The image was handout to news agencies around the world by the lebanese photo agency “Dalati and Nohra” and showed Nabih Berri, pictured two places to Prime Minister (in 2014) Tammam Salam’s right, where in reality he was not actually present during the photo-shoot.

Berri who was present at the palace, had already left to board a plane to Kuwait when the snap was taken, so the presidential media adviser, back then, Adib Abi Akl stepped in to take Berri’s place in the picture, and the image was later photoshopped, with Abi Akl’s face replaced with Berri’s face.

REUTERS order to “Kill”

News agencies quickly issued notices to ‘kill’ the fake image, because “Adding elements to a photograph is entirely unacceptable and is in clear violation of AP’s standards,” as mentioned by the Associated Press newswire, and also harmonious with a similar act by Reuters and others.

And according to “Annahar” local newspaper, the reason this incident ever took place, was based on the decision Berri took, after Ministers Nohad El Machnouk and Rachid Derbas were late for the first picture and by the time they arrived, Berri had left, so they decided to take another picture with all the ministers, without Berri.


Berri (L), Derbas (C), El Machnouk (R)

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