CNN Shows Fallout Computer Terminal In A Video About Russian Hacking

CNN Shows Fallout Computer Terminal In A Video About Russian Hacking

In a video from 30 December 2016, CNN used footage from Fallout‘s hacking mini-game as B-roll to illustrate reports of recent, real-life hacks committed by the Russian government.

The similarity appears to have been first spotted by one Poofylicious on Reddit, who put together the following explainer:

The footage in question occurs right around a minute into the video while the presenter discusses President-elect Trump’s reaction to Moscow’s alleged involvement in what the White House has called “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities”. Because if anything indicates the severity of cyberwar and the importance of international norms against digital espionage, it’s a command prompt from one of Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic role-playing games.

That part of the video is immediately proceeded by a soundbite from Trump in which soon-to-be President of the United States said, “I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.” Indeed!

Of course, reporting the news is never an easy thing, especially in the age of “fake news” where any old piece of content can begin reshaping our perception of reality if it gets enough shares and retweets, regardless of its veracity. And CNN certainly isn’t the first news agency to incorporate video games into their coverage of global affairs. Several years back, a report by the BBC used the UNSC symbol from Halo while talking about the United Nations. Child soldiers from the Metal Gear games have been used in news stories about actual child soldiers.

Broadcast news seems to especially struggle with what to show in the background when discussing things like computer algorithms and hacking. But that’s understandble to a degree. Computers are complex pieces of technology, so much so that they even sometimes seem like magic. Like Trump said, thanks to the age of the computer, nobody knows exactly what’s going on.

Still, user BFeely1 wasn’t surprised, “It’s quite standard practice for the news media to demonize text-mode screens. My parents watch the news so religiously that they sometime consider my use of standard command prompts to be suspicious. This has even resulted in real legal trouble for some people.”


  • Can easily tell how this happened

    Article Author goes to intern, “Find me a picture to do with hacking!”
    Intern types ‘hacking’ into google images
    Intern picks random pick
    Author is a moron and does not bother to check image
    Article is published.

    • Did you just breathlessly post a fake news story about a fake news story?

      I think you did. Go back to forwarding on conservative chain emails in purple comics sans fonts.

      And feel free to tell the author that his TWENTY THREE PARAGRAPHS could have otherwise been summarised as follows:

      – Mainstream news outlet doesn’t update content in middle of night, fails to pander to conservative leaning journalist who wants to make money from cretinous right wingers. Updates story in morning.

      The irony of him dramatically exclaiming that the article BALLOONED from ‘eight to eighteen paragraphs’ in the middle of his own twenty three paragraph rant should not be lost even on conservatives.

      • Dude, everything is lost on conservatives….democrats, neocons, progressives etc

        They have already convinced themselves that this election was somehow special and unique, that it means something other than business as usual.

      • That’s something that people forget: just because people can access a site 24/7, doesn’t mean the person who wrote the story is working on it every second of the day.

        • I do not mean to step outside my bounds, Alex, but I must warn you to be careful if when interacting with this user.

          No matter how well a post is nor how well it is confirmed via independent research, Burnside will outright attack any user who doesn’t confirm to his/her views and will vary from false claims about the user’s personal political views to accusing the user of having mental impairments.

          Be careful when you up vote as in doing so, you are inadvertently condoning his (by definition) verbal assault on other users.

          • The upvote was actually a misclick (the palm recognition on the Razer laptop I’m using is very sensitive, to say the lease) but hopefully people understand that I don’t condone overly aggressive behaviour here. I’m all for letting people hash it out and different points of view, but I do try and keep a close eye on things to make sure they don’t get out of hand.

          • I’m all for letting people hash it out and different points of view, but I do try and keep a close eye on things to make sure they don’t get out of hand.

            We know, Alex, but at the same time you can’t be all places at once.

            Again, I know I’m over stepping my bounds but I would rather be told off for doing so rather than remain silent and letting a few users leave the editors and even the whole site open for litigation for borderline abuse of other users.

          • ‘even the whole site open for litigation for borderline abuse of other users.’

            Seriously mate, this is what I am talking about. You’re either surprisingly uneducated and willing to aggressively throw that around – or you know you’re talking nonsense but decide to say it anyway for dramatic effect and because you know there are 4-5 other conservative commenters who can be relied on to provide you with an echo chamber to validate your views.

            Assuming the former, there’s plenty of easily accessible avenues for you to research the laws in Australia and reassure yourself that my sardonic pisstakery of your conservative views will not see the stormtroopers descend on Kotaku’s offices and send everyone to Manus Island – even under a Liberal government.

            Assuming the latter, well, that’s your problem to deal with, and I sincerely wish you the best of luck with it. Two ways of dealing with it that I suggest is that you either don’t flip your lid when your views are questioned, or that you don’t regularly make declarative statements that are in fact simply your subjective conservative viewpoints.

          • @burnside

            Two ways of dealing with it that I suggest is that you either don’t flip your lid when your views are questioned, or that you don’t regularly make declarative statements that are in fact simply your subjective conservative viewpoints.

            Neither apply.

            I’m not flipping my lid; you are as you have just demonstrated in your own post.

            I do not have conservative views, you use it as a derogatory term to belittle those who do not match your own views.

            Maybe before you start having a go at others and myself personally, how about you clean you own backyard?

          • You are flipping your lid.

            Rather than allowing the very robust commenting system of Kotaku to do its job, you’ve made an extremely overdramatic attempt to censor me by jumping in on an unrelated, inoffensive comment and trying to personally leverage Alex because you were upset by comments made weeks and months ago on posts of yours.

            That’s not a mild behaviour, that’s extreme.

            I’ve just shown your extreme behaviour, now feel free to point out where my post does the same.

            If you’re having trouble finding your point of reference, it may help you to note that you are regularly upvoted by the REAL extremist conservatives on here.

            So it may be that while you think you’re not a conservative, like Fox news you’re #1 with them.

            Anyway, your personal attack on me here is by your own standards threatening litigious matters for Kotaku, so how about you just block me and let the comments system do its work?

        • To return this conversation to where it should be, dramatic as the OP was, it goes right to the heart of the issues with modern journalism. As someone who has been an editor and journalist for almost two decades, the 24/7 cycle has been the biggest change to the trade in living memory.

          It’s not simply a competition between veracity and timeliness on the part of the publications, it’s about the secondary amplification systems that now permeate all forms of communication and the role of communication in terms of public policy and other real world effects.

          To use everyone’s favourite example, Gamergate is a perfect study in the direct ‘conflict’ between some of these systems. No matter what various publications put out, the effect of their content and its delivery was secondary to the ‘after market’ amplification.

          And this is not something that publications can, or should, be held responsible for controlling.

          You can go back and look at Gamergate articles on this site. Hundreds upon hundreds of comments of pure unadulterated crazy – with very few directly connected to the content at hand. Instead you’ve got MSPaint charts from 4chan guiding you through a labyrinth of confirmation bias that somehow circles back to attacks on the printed article which are migraine inducing in their insanity.

          The problem is that Reinforcement Theory ( is a primary driver of traffic for any publication that includes even the slightest amount of subjective comment or delivery.

          Then you have websites that rely almost exclusively on advertising revenue, leading to a system where the most profitable avenue is the one where you trigger reinforcement behaviour both offensively and defensively, which is a genuine ‘ethical’ issue.

          Or to put it in simpler terms, it’s hard to be profitable without either publishing extremist content or providing a platform for conflict – and even if you don’t try to do either of these, your audience may end up choosing to identify you with that anyway. Then you either take the money and deal with the consequences or close things up and reduce your revenue streams.

      • Alex, also be careful in listening to what random strangers on the internet tell you. The two gentlemen there represent far right viewpoints, who not only react poorly to criticism of their viewpoints but also regularly and continually misinterpret sardonic and ironic commentary to stoke their own sense of outrage.

        Feel free to read through my posts – and theirs – and make your own judgments.

        I could tell you that by giving them airtime you are condoning their pro-Gamergate commentary and regular normalisation of alt-right talking points, but that would be incredibly overdramatic of me.

        • The two gentlemen there represent far right viewpoints

          Haven’t before and am not starting now.

          who not only react poorly to criticism of their viewpoints but also regularly and continually misinterpret sardonic and ironic commentary to stoke their own sense of outrage.

          Isn’t that what you are doing yourself? A lot of your posts make more sense when the roles are reversed. And I am not even talking about mine; I see this with posts you make against other users personally.

          I could tell you that by giving them airtime you are condoning their pro-Gamergate commentary

          Er? How the blazes is that fiasco even related here?

          What was given was an accurate commentary of your own actions and posts. In fact, you have taken to using “conservative” as a derogatory term to describe someone who doesn’t line up with your own views. It doesn’t matter if they are balanced like myself; if it doesn’t match your own view you automatically assume “uninformed conservative”.

          You are not doing yourself any favours making false claims and assumptions about other user’s political views and (in some cases) their mental standing.

          • OK, officially calling timeout on this one now. I know there’s past history, but let’s turn the volume down and all play nice.

            Going back to an earlier point, the online environment in general has kind of crimped the room for the centre. Twitter’s a great example of that – it’s a platform that is best suited to playing to a particular audience, and Facebook’s algorithms have made it harder and harder for people to see things outside of their curated sphere, as it were.

            As to @wisehacker above, it all generally seems like the kind of conversation that would be best had in a quiet bar, over a few beers. Things like this just get too messy, and too nasty, online I find. But anyway. Let’s try and chill out for the rest of the day, OK?

            (This is now making me wonder when the next ep. of the Tony Abbott RPG is out)

          • The problem is, I don’t think you will find there is a ‘centre’ any more.

            The vast majority of people think they are ‘balanced’. For many, seeing themselves this way is pathological, as it provides a sense of internal justification to empower a self righteousness which externalises their insecurity. It’s one of the most common psychological pathologies in fact – everyone does it to one degree or another. Very few people are able to comprehensively admit the actual scope of their own views as that allows an element of doubt not many are able to cope with.

            This means that everythingis extreme – to someone, or more likely, many many someones.

            People can try and argue that there are social mores and academic positions that support the notion of a ‘Centre’ but given how fluid these are and how subjective, it’s pointless. And that pointlessness is being embraced by a sector that relies almost wholly on advertising revenue.

            Late 20th century notions of objectivity and social values are being thrown out of the window, rapidly. For example, we live in a nation where we throw children in detention camps to be molested for no reason other than media spin on it garners votes from more conservative leaning and/or gullible members of society. Twenty, thirty years ago this would have been unimaginable. Now it’s business as usual – and almost everyone knows exactly how it works but is swept along anyway.

            You’re spot on that people can’t see beyond their curated spheres – and the issue is that this model is the most profitable. Building yourself a curated sphere is going to provide a much more solid revenue stream, so it sets the competitive bar for the marketplace.

            So it’s all about the pretence of centrism – because even the most rabid reader won’t admit that they’re extremists. That’s the communists at the ABC 😉

            While older people may find this jars with their late 20th century upbringing, in time it will be normalised to the point where the pretence probably won’t even be attempted. You have younger generations who have never even encountered the notion of objective communication – and to be honest, they’re probably closer to having philosophical validity than their forebears like us 😉

  • um… big fucking deal? this is nothing, its just B-roll footage, this isnt a fuck up like ITV mistaking Arma 2 footage as a real incident. Hell the other day I saw a news post from yahoo or channel 7 talking about sydney’s housing market and the picture for it was from some shitty mobile game like FoE

    Also how many times has the media use footage from a movie that has “hacking” in.

    • Why does it have to be a “big fucking deal” to be posted here? This isn’t BBC News, it’s a gaming blog reporting on the appearance of a game on television under unusual circumstances. I think your expectations are a little off.

      • No my expectations are not off at all. Again this was just B-roll Footage it was not CNN going “here is proof of russian hacking” and showing someone playing fallout4 like ITV did with that terrible Documentry about an IRA attack which was rightly mocked and derided. Thats the massive difference and this isnt unsual at all as ive already mentioned that ive seen posts from Yahoo News and Channel 7 that have used Screenshots from mobile strategy games to talk about sydney’s housing market.

        Edit: also just look at the comments not just from here but on other gaming sites where people are talking like this is equal to the Arma 2 Fiasco

  • To be fair, the devs for Fallout 3 did an excellent job on the hacking mini-game. The screen does look like a legitimate memory hex dump. Still, I’ll take any excuse to laugh at CNN journalism.

  • They really missed out on an opportunity to use footage of Bioshock’s hacking – although maybe that would have put plumbers in the firing line.

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