On 4 July 2016, the PBS program A Capitol Fourth promised to put viewers “front and center” for a live Independence Day fireworks show from the west lawn of the United States Capitol.
When the fireworks started, however, eagle-eyed viewers noticed that the patriotic pyrotechnics over the capital were not the same as the fireworks bursting on their television screens:
Not cool @pbs…. Fake footage of fireworks on the Fourth???? It’s cloudy and rainy in DC. Those shots are clearly not from tonight.
— Chris Wallgren (@seawall77) July 5, 2016
While the fireworks show at the Capitol did go off as planned, PBS decided to alter its coverage because of cloud coverage in the area; sometime during the broadcast, it quietly switched its live feed to previously-shot footage:
The network posted on social media that they showed a combination of firework shows by design:
When that message didn’t satisfy disgruntled viewers, the network posted a more detailed explanation:
Host Tom Bergeron said that he was not aware of the decision to show older footage, but that the cloud cover had made the 2016 fireworks show unremarkable:
— Tom Bergeron (@Tom_Bergeron) July 5, 2016