The Guy Who Made the ISIS-Dildo Flag Just Told Off CNN

A still taken from CNN's news coverage last Saturday.Mediaite/CNN

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Anyone near the internet last Saturday was treated to one of most glorious cable news gaffes in recent memory. CNN thought it had a stunner of a scoop: Gay pride was being infiltrated by Islamist terror!

CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux crossed from the US studios to international assignment editor Lucy Pawle in London, who claimed to have spotted an ISIS banner amongst the rainbow-adorned floats at London’s annual LGBT pride parade. A glorious exclusive! “I seem to be the only person to have spotted this,” Pawle claimed. The segment was given the full, breaking-news treatment: Peter Bergen, the network’s national security analyst, was even called in for his sober assessment.

The only problem? The banner Pawle spotted was a satirical flag adorned not with ISIS’s logo in Arabic, but with butt-plugs and dildos.

Now the flag’s creator has spoken publicly for the first time in a Guardian op-ed that is sure to make CNN execs, Pawle, and Malveaux squirm with humiliation. Why did Paul Coombs—a self-described “collagist” and “multi-media dildo obsessive”—make the flag? “Medieval ideologies and barbarism were being spread and recorded through that most modern of expressions, social media, with that flag ever-present,” he writes in something of an artistic mission statement. “It has become a potent symbol of brutality, fear and sexual oppression. If I wanted to try and stimulate a dialogue about the ridiculousness of this ideology, the flag was key.”

“The Pride festival is a pure celebration of the finest aspects of humanity: of tolerance, togetherness, acceptance and liberation, the polar opposite of what Isis stands for,” he continues. “If there was anywhere where my flag had a voice, it was there.”

Coombs also writes, “CNN correspondent Lucy Pawle described my flag as a ‘very bad mimicry’ but the only bad mimicry I could see was CNN’s impression of a reputable news organization. What does this say about every other report that they broadcast? And why have they not mentioned it since?”

Boom. Great questions, Coombs. Indeed, the original report has been taken down from CNN’s website.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate