A protest against the police killing of George Floyd and police brutality in Seattle has been mostly characterized by drum circles, speakers and movie screenings. But if you only tuned into Fox News for coverage of these demonstrations, you might think it was full of burning buildings and armed guards.
On Friday, Fox News published several digitally altered images of the demonstrations on its website, which the Seattle Times caught. It’s not clear who is responsible for tweaking the images.
One photo, shown on Fox’s homepage on Friday, placed a man with a rifle standing in front of a sign that reads “You are now entering Free Cap Hill.” The street scene and the man who appears in it come from two different photos, taken more than a week apart.
The sign in that photo refers to the newly-dubbed Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, a stretch of six blocks set up by protesters in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to create “a police-free” independent zone, The Guardian reported. It was established after the Seattle police abandoned a precinct in the neighborhood and converted the area into a festival-like space.
The conservative outlet also published a photo of a person running past a fiery building and car to accompany stories on the Seattle protest. The headline read “CRAZY TOWN.” The photo is actually from St. Paul, Minn. and was taken on May 30, according to the Seattle Times.
After the Times reached out to Fox News about the photos, they were removed. But a Fox News spokeswoman also said the following, “We have replaced our photo illustration with the clearly delineated images of a gunman and a shattered storefront, both of which were taken this week in Seattle’s autonomous zone.”
The Times pushed back on this statement writing in its article that “the gunman photo was taken June 10, while storefront images it was melded with were datelined May 30 by Getty Images.”
Though, as the Times reports, the demonstration has seen armed protesters it is nothing like the scene Fox attempted to purport with its misleading use of images.
As a photojournalism ethics educator told the Times, “I think it’s disgraceful propaganda and terribly misrepresentative of documentary journalism in times like this, when truth-telling and accountability is so important,” said Kenny Irby. “There is no attribution. There is no acknowledgment of the montage, and it’s terribly misleading.”
On Saturday, Fox News appended an editor’s note to the stories featuring altered images expressing regret for “these errors.”
A FoxNews.com home page photo collage which originally accompanied this story included multiple scenes from Seattle’s “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” and of wreckage following recent riots. The collage did not clearly delineate between these images, and has since been replaced. In addition, a recent slideshow depicting scenes from Seattle mistakenly included a picture from St. Paul, Minnesota. Fox News regrets these errors.
UPDATE: June 13, 2020, 4:06 p.m. EDT Added the editor’s note that’s been appended to stories on the Fox News website featuring the misleading images.