There’s been a claim on the web that CNN anchors praised Taliban fighters for “responsibly wearing masks to protect themselves and others from COVID,” during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.
In mid-August 2021, as the Taliban took over Afghanistan after the US withdrew its military forces from the country, social media was abuzz with an image showing a chyron displayed during a CNN broadcast that read “Breaking News: Taliban Fighters Responsibly Wearing Masks.”
“[email protected] calls Taliban terrorists as fighters and praises them for wearing masks while killing innocent people in Afghanistan [email protected] @hrwas usual have maintained a criminal silence,” filmmaker Ashoke Pandit tweeted while sharing the viral screenshot.
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However, the fabricated image with the headline was first published with an article on the satirical website “The Babylon Bee” on August 14, 2021.
The article read, “Approximately twelve minutes after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, Taliban fighters have completely taken over the entire country. “Woah, that’s a bummer,” said the Biden Administration’s foreign policy team. “We didn’t see that one coming.” As the Taliban began its campaign of shooting and killing, as is their time-honored tradition, CNN anchors gushed with praise after noticing all the Taliban fighters were responsibly wearing masks to protect themselves and others from COVID.”
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According to The Babylon Bee, their output is “a satire about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life. The Twitter bio of “The Babylon Bee” says, “Fake news you can trust”.
Outside that context, though, some readers unfamiliar with the style and tone of The Babylon Bee’s content misrepresented the headline about CNN for an original news story. This displays how humorous or satirical intentions behind a post on the internet can be understood by some readers, while to some they are not obvious.