A Feb. 25 episode of Australian TV program "Four Corners" tackles binge drinking in the country and explores what it finds to be a "crisis" of alcohol-fueled violence. To convey that message, the program, titled "Punch Drunk," uses videos of drunk youth rampaging through streets and scuffling with police, their effects maximized with dramatic background music. One problem: Malek Chamoun, one of the men portrayed as stumbling drunk, wasn't drunk at all. He's a champion weightlifter -- and he's blind.
Chamoun appears just over 10.5 minutes into the segment, and can be seen hesitantly descending a set of stairs as a man by his side helpfully supports him down. According to a note on Chamoun's Facebook page, his guiding cane was just out of frame.
"Pfftt i wasn't drunk, i'm blind!" he wrote on Facebook. "I was even holding my cane, but the idiots cut it off in the vid. The media has to watch out, this could impact my reputation with my weightlifting carreer [sic]."
Luke Borreggine, an acquaintance of Chamoun's, described the athlete to Australia's News Limited as "a great kid, a fantastic athlete, and a great son," adding that the clip is "disgraceful."
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which airs the program, has since realized the mistake and issued an apology:
The footage was filmed in a public place, and while the program does not suggest all those featured were drunk, it was shown in the context of people out and having a good time. Four Corners apologised for portraying Chamoun in this light, and explained that nobody involved with the program was aware the filmed man was blind.
ABC also has pledged to remove the video of Chamoun from its online version of the program and any future repeats on TV.
WATCH a short clip of Chamoun's appearance on "Four Corners," above.