The YouTube video purports to show then-CNN reporter Charles Jaco rehearse a dramatic "live" report from Saudi Arabia during the 1990 Persian Gulf War from a studio, exaggerating the level of danger.

The second part of this video was a live CNN satellite feed recorded onto VHS showing the final cut. Charles Jaco was wearing a different jacket, but he had the same act. The acting was terrible as Charles Jaco wore a gas mask, and his fellow correspondent Carl Rochelle wore a helmet. The sirens and missile sound effects are part of the stage set. The camera never pans out or shows the sky.

Did CNN really shoot a studio act, and purport it to be a real gas live gas attack?


3 Answers 3


The video DEBUNKED: CNN Blue Screen/Green Screen Hoaxes by AluminumTheory directly debunks this.

However, as an anonymous Youtube video is hardly a credible source, I have cross-checked a couple of its claims below, and directly source them, if possible.

The "stage"

AluminumTheory argues it is not a blue-screen stage (as claimed by the conspiracy theorists), but just blue-coloured walls from the Dhahran International Hotel. He compares number of photos and references a newspaper article to support this.

To confirm this claim, let's start of with the nice newspaper article from The Free Lance-Star, a newspaper based in Fredericksburg, Virginia who had sent a couple of reporters to cover the war.

(The entire article is worth the read, but copy pasting isn't possible, so I retyped most of it)

A long frustrating trip to the middle east


But we owe an explanation here. It's an explanation being shared by many of the 700 journalists who joined the safari to Saudi Arabia, only to be upstaged by CNN and its uninterrupted coverage.

No doubt television has made you familiar with the Dhahran International Hotel--or at least the back side of it, where the television networks broadcast, where the Scud missiles are sighted and where the shelters are located.

Maybe you've wondered about those blue balloonlike structures forming the background of Charles Jaco's nightly CNN telecasts. Most thought they were radar domes or complex satellite communications equipment.

They are the tops of the sun-screen shelters and cabanas surrounding the hotel swimming pool. They have that lofty look about them only because the networks have constructed tree-houselike broadcast platforms from plywood and 2-by-4s--each successive one built higher than the first--and they sit atop a miniature golf course initially designed for the enjoyment of the guests.


"I had more freedom reporting from East Berlin before the wall came down,"

Source: Google News Archive: The Free Lance-Star - Feb 16, 1991

Additionally it's possible to find photos of the location in Great Britain's Imperial War Museums archive:

Satellite dishes erected by the international press corps at the International Hotel, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Satellite dishes erected by the international press corps at the International Hotel, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

What it boils down to is that all news agencies were forced to report from the same location (as actually mentioned by Jaco himself at one point in the video). The video is consistent with that location, and is not a blue-screen stage.

Multiple takes

AluminumTheory shows that two parts of the video, labeled "Take Two" and "Take Three" were not separate takes, but actually the exact same footage that had been duplicated to make it seem more sinister.

He shows this by laying the two sections of the video next to each other, and showing they are identical. Proving this in text and images here is a bit hard, but in the YouTube video they are overlaid pretty nicely. As this would prove a deliberate intent to falsify the information I deemed it worthwhile to reproduce this result ('peer review it', if you will):

enter image description here

Zooming in the waveforms overlapped to within reason of the MP3 encoding.

This is strong support to reinforce AluminumTheory's evidence that that these are not two separate takes, but the same footage manipulated.


This video is a deliberate attempt to falsify information to attract visitors for patriotportal.yolasite.com. The AluminumTheory video mentioned in the first paragraph continues with more photographic evidence, but the above three pieces of evidence were to me the most central ones, and are now properly attributed.

Another worthwhile thing about the video is that it puts into perspective the behaviour of Jaco to some extend and explain why they weren't allowed to make wide angle shots (they were right next to an airfield used by the military). Not to say that he didn't overreact in that segment, but it was a war zone after all.

  • 3
    I was going to post an answer of my own, based on this debunking, but this answer is even more comprehensive. The only thing that adds is pictures and a (claimed) quote from Charles Jaco himself.
    – Bobson
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 18:34
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    Your evidence does not seem strong enough to support your conclusion.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 21:03
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    You have no credentials for forensic analysis of audio, and even if you did we wouldn't have an independent way of confirming your findings. Thus it's just another claim, it has no more evidential basis than the video you are debunking. We are not a site where you present the best "sounding" answer and that's ok. We want strong, conclusive evidence. If you want to use those audio tracks as evidence, post your analysis on Sound Design, and get it reviewed by experts at the very least.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 15:10
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    @Sklivvz: Wait, what? Another person in my main source is presenting that claim and I have checked that claim. That requires no forensic analysis of audio. It's just checking whether a cut and paste was done of the entire video fragment. Anybody can check that by eye, but just to be more thorough my source overlapped the fragments in a video editor and to check my source I redid the work, but just for the audio fragment. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 15:15
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    @Sklivvz: That the first time the fragment is shown it's called "take two" (with a smooth transition to another clip) and the second time it's shown it's called "take three" (continuing in the original clip). That's not something that happens "by mistake", so it proves intent. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 15:25

The footage is real/live, as is the siren, though there wasn't actually an attack shown.

Here's an LA Times article from January 23, 1991, discussing the attack:


The issue came to a head Tuesday morning after yet another air raid warning in Dhahran. CNN turned to a live report from Charles Jaco, who, over the scream of the air raid sirens, informed viewers that he knew only that an alarm had gone off and that under new Saudi restrictions, his cameras could not show anything other than the wall behind him.

Despite the lack of either information or pictures, the CNN anchor continued to shoot questions at the obviously nervous Jaco as he stood in the open, repeatedly mopping his brow and occasionally twitching. At one point, as Jaco apparently caught a whiff of jet exhaust, he suddenly dove and slammed a gas mask over his face, handing the microphone to a colleague who, without gas mask, talked about how nervous people were and tried to reassure Jaco that his anxiety was understandable.

Interviewed later, Jaco said he had heard criticism from colleagues and acknowledged that "there were times I've blown it. . . . It disturbs me a lot, those that think I'm increasing the fear. I've got a family back home, too."


Additionally, there are records of a Scud being fired on January 23rd at 10:54 PM (You'll need to follow the citations from this link on the Wayback Machine or a similar service as the GulfLINK web server appears to be offline)


The blue screen background of the rehearsal video, is the exterior of the Dhahran International Hotel in Saudi Arabia. You can see the hotel in this live tv broadcast:
https://youtu.be/MX50H0klRXc&t=3m22s CNN live broadcast

You can see the a film crew recording on a stage outside the hotel, and the blue hotel is behind them. Although the person shown is not a CNN tv correspondent, and it's not certain if this photo shows CNN (other media outlets used the same hotel) media filming at the Dhahran International Hotel

What has CNN said about the rehearsal footage?

CNN has not made any statements or given any explanation of the behind the scenes footage. Nor have they explained why Charles was rehearsing using a gas mask.

  • This is a video broadcast from CNN that shows the blue background was part of the hotel. This answer is not original research. The accepted answer by David Mulder has many points that are original research (especially the audio analysis), but that answer is now 7 years old and has not been removed.
    – LordYeshua
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 9:31
  • You seem to not quite have answered the question, whilst the exterior of (a) the hotel may be shown in the photo you post, it's unclear how this might have any bearing on the matter. Please refer to the help center for guidance as to our ways, paying particular attention to the how to write a good answer section. Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 15:56
  • As you say, you are restating something from another answer - which by itself is incomplete by way of an answer to the question, and adds nothing beyond what other answers have already provided. Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 6:15
  • The other answer does not show this vital evidence.
    – LordYeshua
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 6:18
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    Quite true, it would have been redundant to do so. I came to your post because you are a new member and you showed up in the "First post" review queue, that's why I'm commenting on it, not because I've picked you out myself for any reason, but because the system works that way. You have Given a different link from that appearing in the original question (before the edit) and from the other answer, but it's unclear how your link adds anything. Admittedly the edit to the question removing the link doesn't help as much as it was perhaps intended to. Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 6:39

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