Twitter was set ablaze on Friday night when news station KBOI 2 News posted a story about an attempted robbery in Idaho. The story claims that two alleged robbers arrived to find the doors of the bank locked. And while most users found no faults with the story, they did notice that the accompanying photo– that of civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson— was not at all an accurate representation of the facts.
Mckesson noticed this and retweeted a link to the story with the caption: “I haven’t been anywhere near a bank robbery. FYI.” Within minutes, users angrily left comments on KBOI’s Twitter page and that of McKesson. “Screenshot this, because you have a defamation lawsuit on your hands” advised one user, while countless others did just that and snapped screenshots of the misleading photo. KBOI has since deleted the tweet, but you can check out one of the these screenshots below.
Even after the initial tweet was taken down, however, users began to come across other unrelated KBOI stories that shared this photo of McKesson at a protest rally. “Officer wounded in deadly ambush sues Black Lives Matter” reads the headline, which again promotes McKesson as someone who is seemingly complicit in the crime being described.
McKesson is in fact involved in the article, as he and four other Black Lives Matter leaders were named as defendants in the suit filed on behalf of one of the officers, but users were quick to point out a pattern. “So, uh… right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned station @KBOITV is running photos of @deray alongside stories unrelated to him,” says one user. The photos for both stories have since been altered.
Numerous Twitter users have encouraged McKesson to sue for defamation, complaining that KBOI should have been more careful in their photo selection. “Beyond belief!,” wrote one supporter, “Glad you’re keeping the pressure on. News media should have some standards, like the picture should be real!” Check out some of most notable reactions and opinions below.
Others believed that the repeated use of Mckesson’s photo is due to KBOI being owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group. “Sinclair is bad for 4 America,” wrote one user, “We don’t need biased rightwing reporting!” Others put forth a sentiment of disappointment, with one Idaho local writing “Kind of disappointed in KBOI; local station here, and one that I thought better about…”
UPDATE: KBOI has issued an apology on their Twitter account, reading: “We messed up. We mistakenly tweeted a photo of @deray with an unrelated story link about a bank robbery. We at KBOI are very sorry.”