Sepah News, the the media arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, distributed a picture of four missiles being fired into the sky on Wednesday. The photo was reproduced by, amongst others, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Chicago Tribune, MSNBC, Yahoo! News, NYTimes.com and our very own BBC News.
Except it turns out that one of the missile images was, in fact, an amalgamation of two of the others, and was strategically placed in the picture in order to cover up a missile which had misfired.
What is particularly striking is the amateur level of the cover-up. Just like Adnan Hajj's fake images of Israeli strikes on Beirut during the Second Lebanon War, distributed by Reuters, the alterations seem to involve nothing more than a simple cut-and-paste job. The repeated sections in the picture are very obvious to anyone taking a second glance.
Still, it's hard to be too smug about Iranian incompetence when dozens of senior Western journalists, in the best papers, apparently fell for the scam.