News and Commentary

CBS News Says It Made A ‘Mistake‘ Airing Terrifying Footage Of Italian Hospital During Report About NYC
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/01/10: Main entrance to CBS (Columbia Broadcasting Syetem) headquarters in New York City. (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

CBS News was forced to admit that it made an “editing mistake” after social media users noted that it used horrifying footage of an overcrowded Italian hospital in a report about New York City.

The footage, filmed in Bergamo, Italy, near the epicenter of that country’s coronavirus outbreak, shows a ward crowded with coronavirus patients, stacked together and coughing as doctors, wearing personal protective equipment, dash between them, clearly overwhelmed. As the camera pans around, the footage shows more patients lined up head to foot in hallways and in every corner of the hospital.

Sky News first aired the report on the Bergamo hospital on March 22nd and CBS, apparently lacking in similarly terrifying footage from New York City’s own medical facilities, repurposed it on March 25th.

“That is because more than half of the nation’s new coronavirus cases are being found right here,” a voice says over the footage in the CBS report. “Crowded subway cars may have accelerated the spread. New York’s governor says FEMA gave the state 400 ventilators.”

The report then cuts to scenes of the New York City subway.

Twitter user @Alx spotted the film and used a side-by-side comparison to show how CBS placed the footage into a report about New York City, likely leaving viewers with the impression that many of the city’s hospitals are so overwhelmed, patients are being left to suffer in hospital hallways.

“During a Pandemic it is essential that the Media gives us real and accurate information,” @Alx noted. “It’s completely irresponsible for @CBSNews to use footage from an Italian Hospital when talking about the outbreak in New York City. This is unacceptable.”

CBS, Fox News reports, finally admitted that it had made a “mistake” late Monday, blaming the report on an editing error.

“It was an editing mistake. We took immediate steps to remove it from all platforms and shows,” a CBS spokesperson told Fox.

“We took immediate steps to remove it from all platforms and shows,” the network added when speaking to the Washington Examiner.

Some social media users remained unconvinced by CBS’s excuse, noting that the CBS footage seems to remove bits of the film that show signs written in Italian — a sign that CBS may have reviewed the clip before shoehorning it into a story about New York City.

New York City is the epicenter of the virus in the United States, with more than 900 deaths and, as of Tuesday morning, more than 75,000 individual cases of coronavirus. Hospitals are, reportedly, overwhelmed, according to Fox News, which notes that hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn, two boroughs of New York City, seems to be suffering the most from the city’s outbreak.

Healthcare workers are also being affected by the virus. “Hospital operator Northwell Health said 155 of its 72,000 employees have tested positive for coronavirus,” per Fox News. “The New York State Nurses Association said at least 67 nurses had been infected. The union for the city’s EMS workers said more than 50 had tested positive and more than 400 are showing symptoms.”

On Monday, a Navy hospital ship docked near New York City to provide additional medical support and the United States Army Corps of Engineers is setting up several field hospitals to handle overflow, particularly of coronavirus patients who do not need intensive care facilities.