Washington Free Beacon published a story Thursday that included several photographs offered to the publication exclusively by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). Well, “exclusive” was a bit of a stretch. Both the publication and the senator soon learned that at least one of the gruesome pictures came from the AP in 2008. Two others were easily spotted elsewhere online.
Washington Free Beacon walked back its story with a severe update as well as a second update up top.
Inhofe issued a statement late Thursday saying he was furious. But he claimed one falsified photo doesn’t change the gist of the story, which is that pro-Russia separatists have been murdering Ukranians and the U.S. government, in his view, needs to step in and militarily aid the Ukraine.
“The Ukrainian parliament members who gave us these photos in print form as if it came directly from a camera really did themselves a disservice,” Inhofe said in a statement sent to The Mirror by his office. “We felt confident to release these photos because the images match the reporting of what is going on in the region. I was furious to learn one of the photos provided now appears to be falsified from an AP photo taken in 2008. This doesn’t change the fact that there is plenty of evidence Russia has made advances into the country with T-72 tanks and that pro-Russian separatists have been killing Ukrainians in cold blood.”
Inhofe was formerly Ranking Member of Senate Armed Services. According to background sources, he was given these photos in print form by a delegation from Ukraine, which included members of parliament, and was led by a Georgetown professor.
Prior to using the photos, Inhofe’s staff sought the guidance of the Georgetown professor who confirmed that these photos were taken between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5 in Eastern Ukraine.
Sources apparently confirmed that these photos matched the scenario on the ground, but staff failed to Google image search them. They’ve since learned one is from the AP when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008.
Two other photos are also readily available online — Inhofe’s staff is told they were taken during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this past fall.
The four photos of dead bodies, according to these background sources, are not found online and one of the bodies is wearing yellow arm bands that are commonly found on Ukrainian military uniforms.