Stella Maxwell
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WATCH: CNN Mistakes Dildo-Decorated London Pride Parade Flag for ISIS Flag

WATCH: CNN Mistakes Dildo-Decorated London Pride Parade Flag for ISIS Flag

It isn't every day that dildos and butt plugs are featured prominently in a newscast on Cable News Network, even during coverage of Pride. But this past weekend, the all-news network devoted six, unfiltered, non-blurred, glory-hole filled minutes to images of dildos and butt plugs, which a number of CNN staffers clearly confused with Arabic writing. 

No, really. It happened Saturday, live on CNN. 

Here's a closer look at the image from CNN's coverage, in which unwitting dildo-spotter Lucy Pawle, an assignment editor for CNN International in the network's London bureau, breathlessly described the shocking sight of what she believed to be an ISIS flag smack in the midst of the Pride Parade: 

Superimposed below the image of the flag on CNN's coverage were the dramatic words, "JUST IN: ISIS FLAG SPOTTED AT GAY PRIDE PARADE."

Only that wasn't actually an ISIS flag. As Vox and others reported, it was in fact a parody banner, bearing outlined images of dildos and butt plugs in place of Arabic script.

Vox's Chief Content Editor Max Fisher posted an explanation of "the now-notorious ISIS gay pride dildo flag," which he wrote was "for the clarification of whatever unknown number of CNN producers and reporters who collaborated on this segment, as well as any CNN viewers who happened to catch it and may now need things cleared up.

"I wish I were exaggerating here even a little but I am not. CNN dedicated an entire six and a half minutes to covering, in a tenor of total seriousness and extreme gravity, what they said was an ISIS flag being waved at a gay pride parade, when in fact it was readily and painfully obvious that the 'ISIS flag' was in fact a joke flag covered with images of dildos and butt plugs."

"An unnerving sight today at a London gay pride celebration: an ISIS flag among a sea of rainbow colors," CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux announced. Pawle, reporting live via her cell phone, told Malveaux she noted the flag bearer's outfit was not like the other marchers: "This man, quite distinctive from the rest of the crowd, he was dressed in black and white."

But to Vox's Fisher and other observers reporting on the goof, it was obvious that the flag "was clearly covered with images of dildos and butt plugs."

He expressed his utter amazement that CNN "actually did dwell at some length on the indications that this was probably not an ISIS flag waving at a London gay pride rally. As one of the reporters on the story pointed out, for example, it was waving at a London gay pride rally, which is sort of an unusual place for an ISIS flag to be."

Pawle called the flag "a very bad mimicry, but a very clear attempt to mimic, the ISIS flag" and the writing on it "gobbledygook," when in fact, it was dildos and butt plugs.

The Twitterati quickly pounced on this obvious gaffe. 

"The fact that they were all alone on this story, that no one had reported or even seen ISIS overtaking the London gay pride rally, might have chastened more modest networks," wrote Fisher. "But not CNN, which paused only for a bit of self-congratulation as Pawle commented on her own scoop: 'I seem to be the only person who had spotted this.'"

In his Vox report, Fisher also took aim at Malveaux, the anchor, wbo he said "expressed alarm that London authorities were not tracking the flag-waving culprit, especially after 'these terrorist attacks that we saw on three different continents just in the last several days.' She pointed out, her voice rising, that London authorities had not given 'any follow, in terms of trying to find this guy.'"

Then came "the analyst," Peter Bergen, a respected author of several books, who in 1997 interviewed Osama bin Laden from a cave in Afghanistan.

Malveaux asked Bergen: "From a national security point of view, does this bother you? Does this concern you? Should people in that crowd be concerned? Should somebody be following this guy and figuring out what he was doing there?"

Bergen suggested, gently, that it was "possible" that this was just a "parody." As he pointed out, ISIS has gone to great lengths to persecute and often murder LGBT individuals, so it would be a little odd for them to show up at a London gay pride rally.

First clue, right there. Some of those tweeting lent their esteemed professional insight. 

CNN did not return The Advocate's request for comment over the weekend. The network pulled the video from its website but you can watch it here, thanks to Mediaite and Your Voice News:

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