Yesterday, a blast leveled a substantial area of the Beirut harbor area. (See Shipwreckedcrew’s Abandoned Shipment of Ammonium Nitrate Behind the Explosion in Beirut Today??.)
— Bloomberg (@business) August 5, 2020
• More than 100 people have died, 4,000+ injured
• Explosion was heard as far away as Cyprus – approx 200km (125 miles)
• Lebanese government say 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 5, 2020
Fast forward to 1:36 here to see the first of the secondary explosions and the fire breach the roof.
— mumthazadam (@mumthazhmt) August 5, 2020
— Repent Dubai-United Arab Emirates (@DubaiRepent) August 5, 2020
This is the image, though, that caused hearts to flutter.
HUGE: Beirut, Lebanon where an explosion has taken place. By the looks of it, it produces nuclear like mushroom cloud. More details to follow.
It can be a normal explosion too. Would keep you updated. pic.twitter.com/AuAB75YGR5
— Vishal Agarwal (@agrvishal419) August 4, 2020
While there were insinuations and outright claims that this was the result of an Israeli bomb or missile attack, these were quickly put away, but there is always crazy with which one must contend.
Much to my shock when I logged onto Twitter this morning, one of the trending Twitter Events was Fact-checkers conclude Beirut explosion was not nuclear blast. I did a quick search to see what the kerfuffle was all about. Was some CNN contributor off his meds…yet again?
Nope. There were basically three sources appearing to claim a nuke going off in Beirut.
Exhibit A was some has-been ESPN “journalist” named Chris Palmer. He made an ass of himself recently on Twitter by first encouraging rioting in Minneapolis and then calling the rioters “animals” when they invaded his exclusive neighborhood. (READ Former ESPN NBA Reporter Chris Palmer Wanted Rioters to ‘Burn It All Down,’ Until They Reached His Neighborhood.)
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) May 31, 2020
Palmer offered his insights:
The tweet was quickly deleted, and, in a more genteel time, Palmer would have repaired to a Trappist monastery, taken a vow of silence, and spent the rest of his life praying for the clown nose to be removed from his face.
There was ZeroHedge doing the ZeroHedge clickbait thing.
Terrifying Mystery Blast Shockwave Filmed Over Beirut https://t.co/F1U7t7cAAf
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) August 4, 2020
And there was this rather blatant attempt to create a false story by Veterans Today. To be charitable, Veterans Today is a Russia-friendly, Assad-friendly, and Iran-friendly outlet that deliberately engages is disinformation and outright falsehoods when it is not pushing the Kremlin’s line. The head of Veterans Today, a creep named Gordon Duff, had this to say about his outlet in an interview with Politico:
…“About 30% of what’s written on Veterans Today, is patently false. About 40% of what I write, is at least purposely, partially false, because if I didn’t write false information I wouldn’t be alive.”
In late 2014, Duff and Dean attended a counterterrorism conference in Damascus at which Duff proclaimed to delegates from Russia, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon his theory that “the U.S. government is subservient to a worldwide criminal organization.” This March, the Veterans Today chairman attended a “VT Reception” in Damascus at which attendees gave speeches flanked by over-sized portraits of Assad and Putin, according to video he published on YouTube. Duff did not respond to a question about whether any foreign entities had been involved in funding his travel to Syria.
This is their story Israel Hits Beirut with Nuclear Missile, Trump and Lebanese Govt. Confirm.
Breaking: Israel Nukes Beirut, Russian Embassy Hit, Evidence In (updating) – A general in the Lebanese Army reports that Israel dropped a tactical nuclear weapon on the port of Beirut today. He reports that this was done to collapse the current political regime there and revo… pic.twitter.com/2RsJwINd5b
— VeteransToday (@veteranstoday) August 4, 2020
Note that there are RedState contributors with more followers than Veterans Today (37.5k), and the tweet has 179 likes but was totally dragged in the comments. In short, no sane or credible person claimed Beirut had been nuked. There may be some residual skepticism on the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate gathering dust in a warehouse story, but this is Beirut, and so a lot of things that would be questionable in a civilized country are pretty normal there.
Yet, based on that, the media “fact-checkers” took off.
This is Vice’s Motherboard: Conspiracy Theorists Adamantly Insist Beirut Explosion Was a Nuke (It Wasn’t). The “reporter” uses six paragraphs to get to mentioning that some internet randos claimed someone had popped a nuke over Beirut. He can’t identify anyone other than one washed up ESPN reporter and ZeroHedge. But he gets a quote from the kneejerk leftwing arms control professor who moonlights as a media whore:
The explosion in Beirut can’t possibly be a nuke because, among other reasons, it’s too small. “It’s not a nuke—not even a small one,” Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told Motherboard in an email. “You can see in the videos that there was an explosion or fire burning before the really big kaboom.”
Even here, this reporter is so dense that he can’t accurately relay what Lewis told him. Lewis doesn’t say it was too small because it isn’t. If, indeed, there were 2.75 kilotons of ammonium nitrate, standard industry tables say this is equal to 1.15 kilotons of TNT. There are several US nuclear weapons that have sub-kiloton yields.
Another entrant in this bizarre race to the bottom was something called “Lead Stories,” which reported Fact Check: Blast in Beirut Was NOT A Nuclear Explosion. It’s sole example was the aforementioned Veterans Today.
This is the kind of nonsense the whole “fact-checking” culture in the media has spawned. You have people with no identifiable expertise in explosions, nuclear or otherwise, fact-checking rumors that no sane person voiced. The best spin you can put on this is that the reporters were the victims of some kind of newsroom practical joke or lost a bet. The most likely explanation is that they decided to try to create a narrative that a lot of people…surely, not people like them…were such rubes that they’d fall for any online rumor and therefore validate the need for corporate censorship.
Some days I weep for our nation.
Days like yesterday when proud heirs to the tradition of Walter Duranty and Stephen Glass and Janet Cooke are reduced to debunking a story that was never really “bunked” to begin with.