The Assad government’s censorship of private media has proven a boon for Syria’s rebel factions, which have released video footage directly to a western media that has eagerly gobbled up first hand accounts.
The problem is that the rebels have an agenda to sell, and new video evidence shows that they aren’t shy about making up facts on the ground to make the videos more exciting.
Embedded with a Syrian rebel “reporter” in Homs, one of the videos catches the reporter telling colleagues to set a tire on fire off camera so there is more smoke to simulate the “battle” he is reporting on. The smoke is real, but the battle is not, and the video pans into an alley where a tire is burning in full view.
The regime has regularly disputed the videos coming out of rebel factions, and in this case at least they seem to have a valid point. The authenticity of the footage in other videos may or may not be real, but certainly seems suspect.
Which is of course why censorship programs have backfired in many cases. Iran had the exact same problem in 2009, when opposition factions had full control over the narrative in the Western media because of a ban on private journalists. These nations may fear the agendas of Western media outlets, but the practical consequence of banning them is to replace their message with a fully opposition manufactured one.