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:

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: