By Relying on Bellingcat the Western Media Is Setting Itself up for a Fall

By treating an amateur blog as an expert on highly technical issues that require opinions from specialists the Western media shows extreme bias and poor judgement



In my recent discussion of Almaz-Antey’s presentation on the shooting down of MH17 I made certain comments concerning a report recently published by the British Bellingcat blog.
That report sought to cast doubt on the Russian satellite imagery that shows a Ukrainian BUK missile launcher in the location from which Almaz-Antey says the BUK missile that shot down MH17 was launched.
I said that since Bellingcat were enthusiastic proponents of the alternative theory that the BUK missile was launched by a militia controlled BUK missile launcher located at Snizhnoe, any report on the subject published by Bellingcat had to be treated skeptically.
I also said that the mere fact that the satellite imagery showed some evidence of retouching did not appear to me to be in any way sinister or to cast doubt on the value of the imagery as evidence given that it was produced for presentation at a press conference and not as evidence to one of the two inquiries investigating the tragedy.
It seems I may have been altogether too generous to Bellingcat.   
Comments I have seen have now comprehensively trashed its report, going far beyond the points I made and raising serious questions as to the report’s methodology and the qualifications of its authors.  
Here is one particularly scathing example written by someone who (unlike the authors of the Bellingcat report) seems to be actually qualified in this area.

That the Western media has given such phenomenal weight to Bellingcat is one of the most extraordinary aspects of the whole MH17 affair.  
The Financial Times was at it again when it published on 2nd June 2015 a brief article on the Almaz-Antey presentation, which contained the extraordinary sentence: “Other military experts have dismissed satellite pictures presented by Moscow to back up its Zaroshchenske claim.” 
The “military experts” in question are of course Bellingcat, who are the people who “have dismissed satellite pictures presented by Moscow to back up its Zaroshchenske claim”.
As the debacle of the latest Bellingcat report shows, Bellingcat are not experts on anything and there is no justification to call them that. Certainly they are not “military experts”.
More seriously, there is absolutely no justification for giving their opinions equal weight to those of a company like Almaz-Altay — the world leader in surface to air missile technology — as the Financial Times appears to do.
In my article (BUK Manufacturer Almaz-Antey Speaks Out on MH17 TragedyRussia Insider, 2nd June 2015) I said that one of the perils of amateur investigations is that they throw up false leads, which waste the time and effort needed to refute them.  
This is precisely the situation we are in with Bellingcat.
As for the Western media, if it continues to rely on Bellingcat as its technical adviser on these difficult questions, then it is setting itself up for an epic fail.  

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