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It Might Be Just A Pole – But 60 Minutes Has Lost Its Way


Oh dear, Michael the utility poles don’t seem to match up.

Screen-shot-2015-05-26-at-2.42.46-PM60 Minutes’ stupid pole.

There has been a battle going on between Robert Parry of Consortium News and Australia’s 60 Minutes. Channel 9 sent Michael Usher and his team all the way back to Ukraine to find the wrong utility pole. As Parry says, 60 Minutes did “A Reckless ‘Stand-upper’ on MH-17”.  (Parry’s full article here, and Greg Maybury’s Gumshoe here.)

In the 60 minutes’ rebuttal to Parry’s accusations, Michael Usher declared “proof” with a stupid pole.

Well the poles don’t seem to match. Usher has claimed it was the change of seasons. But I put the utility poles together and the identifying “attachment” to size, and superimposed them. Well the poles seem to be a different diameter. The one from the original (BUK) “get-away”video, allegedly made by Ukrainian intelligence agents, has a slightly larger diameter.


(Update – 12 hours later: As I had compared the poles in the early hours of the morning, I decided to re-match them. I might have over-calculated the diameter discrepancy between them, and will review other aspects too, such as position.) 

But – this is not about whether a BUK missile brought down MH17, or whether Bellingcat’s analysis of the BUK’s movement is correct. This is about the reportage from 60 minutes.

This is an extract from Robert Parry’s…

A Reckless ‘Stand-upper’ on MH-17

by Robert Parry

“In TV journalism, there’s a difference between doing a “stand-upper” and doing an investigative report, although apparently Australia’s “60 Minutes” doesn’t understand the distinction. A “stand-upper” is the TV practice of rushing a correspondent to a scene to read some prepared script or state some preordained conclusion. An investigation calls for checking out facts and testing out assumptions.

…We are still living with the catastrophe of the mainstream media going with the flow of false claims about Saddam Hussein and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Now many of the same media outlets are parroting similar propaganda aimed at Russia without demonstrating independence and asking tough questions – although the consequences now could be even more catastrophic.

That is the context of my criticism of Australia’s “60 Minutes” handling of the key video evidence supposedly implicating Russia and Putin in the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. It is apparent from the show’s original, much-hyped presentation and a three-minute-plus follow-up that the show and its correspondent Michael Usher failed to check out the facts surrounding an amateur video allegedly showing a BUK anti-aircraft missile battery – missing one missile – after the MH-17 shoot-down.

….My point was not to say where the video was shot. As far as I know, it might even have been shot in Luhansk. My point was that Usher and his team had failed to do their investigative duty to verify the location as precisely as possible. Under principles of English-based law — and of Western journalism — there is a presumption of innocence until sufficiently corroborated evidence is presented. The burden of proof rests on the prosecutors or, in this case, the journalists. It’s not enough to guess at these things.

But Usher and his team treated their job like they were just doing a “stand-upper” – putting Usher in front of some billboards in Luhansk to deliver his conclusions (or those of Higgins) – not as an investigative assignment, which would have skeptically examined the assumptions behind citing that location as the scene in the video.

Usher offered no details about how he and his team had reached their conclusion on where the video was shot beyond referencing their meetings with blogger Higgins, who operates out of a house in Leicester, England.

….First, Usher pulled a sleight of hand by showing a traffic-camera shot of the intersection apparently supplied by Higgins and then matching up those landmarks to show that the crew had found the same intersection. But that is irrelevant to the question of whether the “getaway” video was taken in that intersection. In other words, Usher was trying to fool his audience by mixing together two different issues.

Screen shot from Australia's "60 Minutes" update on its story about the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.  According to host Michael Usher, the image was taken from a traffic camera shortly before the MH-17 shoot-down on July 17, 2014.

Sure, Usher and his team had found the intersection picked out by Higgins as the possible scene, but so what? The challenge was to match up landmarks from the “getaway” video to that intersection. On that point, Usher cited only one item, a non-descript utility pole that Usher claimed looked like a utility pole in the “getaway” video.

….when the update aired, it consisted of more insults – references to “Kremlin stooges” and “Russian puppets” – and a reprise of earlier parts of the program that I had not disputed. When the update finally got to the key “getaway” scene, Usher went into full bluster mode but again failed to present any serious evidence that his crew had matched up anything from the original video to what was found in Luhansk….”

For Robert Parry’s full article – see here.

What’s new from the mainstream media?

usherMichael Usher

Mr Usher is making substantial assumptions. Surely it would be prudent of such an esteemed long running show not to leap to conclusions: that a video of a BUK missile launcher travelling in Ukraine, (allegedly) back to Russia, is under the directive of the President of the Russia.





    • The buk launcher is incapable of stand alone firing anyway, the conclusive evidence of the air accident investigators criminally withheld anyway,and the pole is only relevant as proof of the media crews blatent incompetence and bias anyway. Also a prerequisite requirement for the plane to be put within reach at all,was not addressed..ie it was directed there by kiev/nato.usa controllers in the first place. Australian msm is corrupted demonstrably here. Wellcome to the fascist wrld order of militaristic corporate imperialism…the same corps that brought you Vietnam and Korean genocide of 12 million plus civilians ,fukishima disaster and continuous wars for profit globlly. Big picture dude…

  1. I hope channel nine has not shafted Australia with a pole …….again and again!
    Time to forget the MSM.
    Bet ABC media watch will not bother to try and sort it out.

  2. Mary, I have been following Parry’s debate (and Maybury) with 60 minutes. After the Oz 60 minutes rebuttal (to Parry’s accusations) I noted Parry had come back with his “Stand-Up” article (link above)
    At a glance the “video location” and the 60 Minutes intersection look different. But to come to my own conclusion, about the integrity of 60 Minutes’s reporting, I decided to check their claim on whether this was the same utility pole. It found it clearly not to be.

    • One more question. Does Parry, in Washington, DC, bother to watch the Australian Sixty Minutes? or was he having a go at the original Sixty Minutes show that plays every Sunday night in the US. (Both shows feature a ticking clock; maybe they are jointly owned?)

      Anyway, goodonya, Dee, for getting out your measuring tape, but I don’t think it matters. It may matter if the Sixty Minutes program had any integrity to start with, but that show is a plaything of Tavistock. Oh, how it starts with seeming expose-type data but is really a distractor or cover up! (I am referring to the American “60 Minutes.” i have never watched the Oz show.)

  3. Although it is valuable to point out the falsity of 60 Minutes’ reporting, it is largely a distraction from the central issues. Even if the film did show a vehicle moving minus one BUK missile that would not be proof that it was fired by the separatists. The answer as to what brought down MH17 lies in the forensic analysis of the wreckage. The Dutch have done that analysis. It shows that MH17 was not brought down by a BUK but instead an air to air missile.
    That information has not been disclosed because of the existence of the 8 August 2014 agreement between Ukraine, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands not to publish the results of the investigation unless all four countries agreed. 60 Minutes, along with the rest of the msm refuses to even mention the existence of this agreement let alone discuss its implications. For the details see my article in Counterpunch 19 December 2014.

    • In his recent article at Gumshoe, entitled “A Huge and Embarrassing Mistake?”, Greg Maybury noted:

      Dutch Prime Minister’s office issued a statement late November 2014 that said the following, which wasn’t much in words, but spoke volumes in meaning: “….the benefits of disclosing information about the MH17 investigation were outweighed by the risk of damage to the Dutch state’s relations to other states and world bodies.”

      Anyone care to guess what damages were risky? and what world bodies is he referring to?

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