December 11, 2023

On Monday’s edition of Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) podcast The Verdict, Cruz and co-host Ben Ferguson had a lengthy segment praising the work of NewsBusters and associate editor Nick Fondacaro for exposing the “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, NBC for using dubious footage from a known pro-Hamas crisis actor named Saleh Aljafarawi.

“I want to show part of this propaganda. NewsBusters found that ABC, CBS, and NBC elevated a Gaza video from a known propagandist influencer. This guy — we’re going to show you all the different jobs that he has,” Ferguson began just prior to the 25-minute mark.

Cruz and Ferguson then played the full video that the networks would use Friday night and, on a second view, Cruz walked viewers (and listeners on the audio-only side) through the video, including multiple people with “red liquid” that they want to portray as blood, but there’s “no visible wounds” on Aljafarawi or a young girl. 

At another point, an elderly woman started screaming as if given a cue and, moments later, suddenly stopped. And, in the corner, one man in an orange first responder’s vest was laughing (click “expand”):

CRUZ: [W]hat you’re seeing at the beginning, is you’re seeing an image of what appears to be a Palestinian man. And he has what appears to be blood on his hand. And he’s showing it to you. Now, one of the things that striking, he’s screaming, and he’s yelling at the camera. But one of the things that’s striking — if you look at his hand, there are no wounds, there’s no cut. It simply has some red liquid, maybe it’s blood, maybe it’s red paint, some red liquid is on his hand, but they’re no wounds whatsoever. You then move to a young girl who. again. has red liquid. Stop — stop — stop there for just a second. Okay, so she’s got red liquid, that appears to be blood. I — it could be red paint or some red liquid. But the interesting thing is, this girl has no visible wounds either. There’s no cut, there’s no bruise, there’s nothing that is actually bleeding. It’s just liquid on someone that appears to be there are no visible injuries. Rewind just a little bit if you can, please.

FERGUSON: You and I, by the way, both noticed the same thing. There’s a woman who screams in a moment that was sitting in — looks like a wheelchair — 

CRUZ: Rewind just a little bit more.

FERGUSON: — and she wasn’t screaming when the camera comes past her the first time. It’s like she’s waiting for a cue.

CRUZ: Okay, stop. So, just on pause, you can see this — this little girl is screaming and she’s screaming loudly. She has red liquid on her face. There’s a cameraman who is taking pictures, but what I want you to do as this plays forward is behind the cameraman, there’s several other men and I want you to look at their faces. So, play this slowly going forward.

(….)

CRUZ: Okay, so you see her screaming and clapping. And then, we’re coming around, there’s the cameraman who’s filming it. And then, as the shot and there’s another — obviously the person filming here is some other cameraman. But now you’re gonna see a couple of men in orange vests. And I want you to look at the second man, the one on the left because he is cracking up laughing. He is smiling ear to ear, and he is laughing. He’s the one now in the middle next to the cameraman. And he’s laughing loudly.

(….)

CRUZ: And, by the way, you notice there’s red liquid on her toe, but again, no injury on her foot, just red liquid.

FERGUSON: Yeah. My whole thing is if you’re wearing the emergency vest, wouldn’t you be running over to help and give aid instead of just staying there watching?

CRUZ: The way they are interacting it is — they are interacting as if they are watching a performance. But let’s roll forward to the — the next woman. We have this little girl.

FERGUSON: There’s her performance. She’s slapping her hands.

CRUZ: Okay, now this woman is very calm. Let’s have audio for her. Let’s go to the beginning of the older woman. Watch and listen because the audio here will play it at normal speed with audio because she’s calm. And then she begins screaming like crazy, almost as if someone says action. And then she’s calm again.

On the man in the orange vest appearing to crack a smile, Cruz noted that, “if this were really a young woman who had had something horrible happen…nobody would be laughing” with Ferguson noticing how he was standing off to the side of her whereas, if she were in actual danger, “he’d be running over to give aid.”

After the breakdown, Cruz sarcastically remarked that their analysis was just “you and me talking but, you know, we’re not professional journalists, we don’t say, have major TV networks behind us. Tell me what is a major TV network to do with this.”

“If you want to run propaganda that makes you think that Israel’s the bad guys, you run with this,” Ferguson answered as Cruz then cued up what ran Friday on CBS, including on the Evening News in a story by foreign correspondent Debora Patta.

Cruz would interject overtop of her voice-overs to point out how key details were cropped out (click “expand):

PATTA [on the CBS Evening News, 11/10/23]: A massive strike at the al-Shifa hospital grounds, Gaza’s largest medical facilities. Israel insists Hamas is using hospitals to coordinate attacks and hide its commanders. But sheltering at al-Shifa? Thousands of civilians. They’re one place of refuge now of blood-soaked battlegrounds. Reeling in stunned disbelief —

CRUZ: The guy with — with — with blood on his hands screaming —

PATTA [on the CBS Evening News, 11/10/23]: — this man shouts, “They bombed the hospitals.” 

CRUZ: — he is there — now showing that image.

PATTA [on the CBS Evening News, 11/10/23]: Nearby —

CRUZ: Now showing the little girl screaming —

PATTA [on the CBS Evening News, 11/10/23]: — a young girl breaks down hysterically, 

CRUZ: — although they quickly crop out the guy laughing.

PATTA [on the CBS Evening News, 11/10/23]: — “my mom, my father, my brother.”

CRUZ: They edit it, so you don’t get to see the guy laughing and then they show the woman screaming, but they end it before she stopped screaming. 

“[T]hey took the most theatrical elements of that video. Notice how they cite it. They just cite it as social media…[T]hey don’t say where this came from,” Cruz added.

Ferguson then read from Fondacaro’s piece about who Aljafarawi really is before the co-hosts put on-screen a collage of the roles Aljafarawi has played over the course of the war:

So, this guy is a guy that has been exposed by NewsBusters and I love this. He — he’s been dubbed Mr. FIFO and Mr. Pollywood — this person’s posted propaganda videos to his Instagram account where he was where “[h]e’s pretended to be” — ready for this list — “a Hamas fighter in a music video, a radiology tech in a hospital, a foster father, a member of the press, and a rescue worker, among other roles.” 

Ferguson again read from Fondacaro’s blog:

[T]his person “is a KNOWN Hamas-linked social media influencer and crisis actor,” yet, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News all “treated his content as though it was a legitimate source of news from Gaza.”

Cruz opined that there’s “two scenarios” for why this aired and neither is good. The first option would be “[e]ither CBS, ABC, and NBC knew who he was, in which case they’re deliberately lying to the American people” and journalist(s) “should be fired.

The other option? “If they didn’t know, it means they had a political narrative they wanted to tell. They had a political agenda, and it was too good to check….[I]t means they’re biased and incompetent. They ought to be fired anyway.”

Cruz continued to lay waste to the liberal networks and challenged CBS to do a piece exposing Aljafarawi (even if it’s “uncomfortable for CBS) if they “care about the truth in any way, shape or form,” saying anyone who “simply repeat[s] Hamas propaganda that is based on lies,” they’re “lying on behalf of terrorists.”

Ferguson wrapped with another name-drop: “A big shout out, by the way, to NewsBusters for doing this dive, finding this intel, putting it out going, ‘hey, you want to see who this guy really is?’”

To see the transcript of the full segment from November 13, click here.