When an eerie, pale-green image appeared in a recent Euronews report on the Egyptian unrest, some bloggers asked an interesting question: "Is this the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse?" Foxnation.com, a news aggregation division of Fox, picked up on the story and repeated the same question. But while video does show something odd, the way some covered the story is overshadowing the story itself.
First the video (the anomaly occurs at about 1:20):
After describing the figure as a "flowing, pale green image that resembles an erect rider atop a horse in Medieval-like barding," one blog points out that the "last of the biblical Book of Revelation's Four Horseman of the Apocalyse, the 'pale rider' is said to be the bringer of death and the forerunner of 'hell' on earth."
Eventually others, including Fox Nation, quoted the same description. And the fact that the video is making the rounds, and made it on a Fox site with the "horseman" reference, has opened the story's coverage up to criticism.
Colby Hall over at Mediaite, which specializes in media coverage, writes this:
This story begs the question: what is FoxNation.com? When it launched in 2009 it was presented as a sort of hybrid news site/forum for users to share thoughts and opinions. But evidence by the following story, the definition of “news” appears to be a loose one at best. The commenters on the page seem to pretty much agree on two things: 1) that the alleged apparition is nothing but a lens reflection, and 2) that “this is amazingly insane… I can’t believe this is on a “news” website” as one commenter writes.
The liberal website Goddiscussion.com agrees the image is probably a lens reflection, and quotes one commenter who explains:
Notice how this "horseman" only begins moving when the camera pans to the right, moves at the same rate as the camera, and that other lights in the frame also move at the same time. lol
This is nothing more than a reflection from the fire. This is the same as when you take a photo towards the sun, and washout/spots appear in the photo.
Considering that explanation, Media Matters mocked those who wondered about the image's origin, and even promised to issue a retraction if the figure did end up being the Fourth Horseman:
I'm going to go out on a limb and say: No, Fox Nation -- that is not the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse.
Note: If I'm wrong about this, I'm willing to issue a correction... but that will be the least of my worries.
So now it's your turn to weigh in: are some outlets overreacting to the image? Or, was this just a case of a cheeky headline?