Fact Check

Did CBS News Use Footage from Italy for New York COVID-19 Report?

The news outlet acknowledged the error, but that wasn't the end of the story.

Published Apr 9, 2020

 (Sky News, screen capture)
Image Via Sky News, screen capture
A CBS News program used a brief clip from an Italian hospital in a segment about the coronavirus crisis in New York City.

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On March 25, 2020, the "CBS This Morning" news program aired a segment described in a teaser as "Desperation in New York as coronavirus cases there continue to skyrocket":


That segment, which aired above a chyron reading "AMERICA'S EPICENTER — New York Now Accounts for More than Half of New U.S. Cases," featured a brief clip of Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, declaring that, "We remain deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area." Then a narrator related the following information while scenes showing hospital personnel, equipment, and patients played on the screen:

NARRATOR: That is because more than half of the nation's new coronavirus cases are being found right here. Crowded subway cars may have accelerated the spread. New York's governor says FEMA gave the state 400 ventilators. To that he said this:

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: "What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000? You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators."

NARRATOR: The governor now projects that the state will need up to 140,000 beds, with an additional 40,000 ICU beds. Across the river from New York, at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey, the chief infectious disease specialists says his hospital has just ten ventilators. Barely enough for now.



However, some sharp-eyed viewers noticed that one of the brief hospital scenes used in the "CBS This Morning" report on New York coronavirus cases was identical to footage that had been aired by Sky News three days earlier and shot at a hospital in Bergamo, Italy:

CBS News acknowledged the error. A spokesperson said, "It was an editing mistake. We took immediate steps to remove it from all platforms and shows."

A week later, however, CBS News apparently used a very brief bit of that Italian footage again while referencing coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania:


Wulfsohn, Joseph A.   "CBS News Admits 'Mistake' After Airing Footage of Overcrowded Italian Hospital in Report About NYC."     Fox News.   30 March 2020.

Ramsay, Stuart.   "Coronavirus: Italy's Hardest-Hit City Wants You To See How COVID-19 Is Affecting Its Hospitals."     Sky News.   22 March 2020.

Brown, Lee.   "CBS Admits To Using Footage from Italy in NYC Coronavirus Report."     New York Post.   1 April 2020.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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