Short Take: The Death of “But For Video”

When cellphone cameras and video became ubiquitous and police body cams became the norm, video revealed much of what had been adamantly denied. Cops sometimes did bad, and sometimes, horrible, things. Those who slept comfortably knowing that all police officers were mutations of Andy Griffith had a rude awakening, judges included. But the aftermath of the Hamas terrorist attack suggests that the “truth” videos once revealed have both spoiled people and given people an excuse not to believe any source if they can’t see it with their own eyes.

But there’s more: Even if they do see it, they still don’t have to believe it because of deep fakes, contextless video and the now-ubiquitous “aftermath” video which supposedly proves that an unseen preceding narrative is proved by what’s left behind.

To this moment, there are passionate believers who refuse to accept that “atrocities” were committed against the Israelis, and that any claims of rapes, burnings, beheadings of babies are mere Zionist propaganda designed to make people hate Palestinians, who are the real victims here. Their proof? Where are the videos? Hamas took many videos of their freedom fight and they show them treating children with kindness and only a few beheadings here and there, none of which involve babies. See? No video, it never happened.

Reporters say so. Meh, lying liars with their “moral clarity” to sell. Elected officials say so. Meh, they can’t tell you the time without lying and it’s all “fake news” anyway, unless we want it to be true. The Red Cross says so. Meh, greedy money-grubbers trying to scam donations so they can buy new curtains. If there’s no one to be believed, then you’re free to believe whatever suits your cause. And without video, no one can prove your wrong. Doubting requires no video. Doubting requires no proof.

But even when there are images, it doesn’t change the calculus. After all, images can always be faked. They could be from ten years ago. They could be edited. Or just complete fabrications. We have the technology.

Watching one of the talking headettes on MSNBC yesterday, she stated that the Gaza Ministry of Health said that 2400 Palestinians were killed, mostly women and children. The congressman in a box on the screen responded, “you do realize that the only government in Gaza is Hamas, and that the “official” sounding Ministry of Health is just Hamas propaganda, right?” No. No she did not. She thanked him for informing here. It was the end of her hour, and so the next headette took over, starting her segment with “The Gaza Ministry of Health said that 2400 Palestinians were killed, mostly women and children.” The congressman was no longer in the box to explain.

To be fair, neither you nor I are on the ground in Israel or Gaza, and thus are in no position to assert from personal experience what happened. We didn’t see it, just as we don’t see most of what passes for the news. We have to trust someone, believe something, or we wander through the wilderness in a state of constant doubt, never knowing what or who to believe.

Video was supposed to save us from our slavish reliance on the media and reason to inform us that no cop ever beat a black guy and no Hamas terrorist ever beheaded a baby. Now that “but for video” is gone, what are we to believe?

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *