Alert residents of Seattle noticed something was off about Fox News’ photos of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone on Friday. After looking through archives and similar photos, people discovered that some of the photos were digitally altered. Some showed an armed man from CHAZ in front of many locations where he had not appeared. Other Fox stories featured photos of a building burning in Minnesota with headlines about CHAZ, giving off the impression that the photos were of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
Some Stories Used Photos from Minnesota Protests Under Headlines About CHAZ
Some of the initial discoveries about the Fox News photos were made on the Seattle subreddit. Redditor u/Rosstafari pointed out the misleading images on Reddit, writing: “Fox News’ Photoshopping of images covering CHAZ extends to intentionally miscaptioning images of burning burnings and wrecked vehicles from Minneapolis riots. Complete lack of journalistic integrity.”
Fox News’ Photoshopping of images covering CHAZ extends to intentionally miscaptioning images of burning burnings and wrecked vehicles from Minneapolis riots. Complete lack of journalistic integrity. from Seattle
The post goes on to point out some very specific images that were shared in a misleading way.
A Fox News story posted on the evening of June 11 was headlined “CRAZY TOWN” with the subhead: “Seattle helpless as armed guards patrol anarchists’ ‘autonomous zone,’ shake down businesses…” The photo showed someone running from a building that was on fire. As it turned out, that photo was originally taken on May 30 in Minneapolis and used in another story published on June 5. Here’s another screenshot of that article that was shared on Reddit, showing FOX using a burning building photo over a headline about CHAZ:
You can see that same AP photo of a person running past a burning building in this My Stateline story here from May 30 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The caption for the photo reads: “A protester runs past burning cars and buildings on Chicago Avenue, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn.”
That same Fox News article also had a photo of burned-out cars. The photo was originally used in an AP article about Minneapolis on May 30. Here’s one photo shared on Facebook by Andrew Crawshaw, which is a screenshot of the Fox News article before it was changed.
Here you can see that same photo in a May 30 story below. The caption reads: “A parking lot filled with scorched cars is seen Saturday, May 30, 200 after a night of fires and looting in Minneapolis.”
The title and photos in the Fox article were later changed.
Seattle Times reported that these photos were part of a package of stories Fox presented about the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone on Friday and that while the photos were on the homepage, Fox didn’t have any disclaimers noting the images had been altered or captions noting where the photos were actually from. Fox News added disclaimers the next day.
A Fox spokeswoman told the Seattle Times in an email: “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.”
However, as seen in the images in the next section, the shattered storefront was from a May 30 Seattle photo and it was not taken after the Seattle Autonomous Zone had been created.
On Saturday, Fox News added disclaimers to three stories. The disclaimer now reads:
Editor’s Note: 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.
The Same Armed Man Was Photoshopped Into Several Photos, Including Photos from Protests Not Related to CHAZ
On a different Seattle Reddit thread, u/alarbus shared photos of the same armed man in a green mask appearing over and over again in different Photoshopped Fox articles about CHAZ.
Here’s a closeup of one example shared on Facebook:
The authentic photo is the one that shows the man in front of a red car. That photo really was taken in CHAZ and is from Getty. You can see it in the Fox article here and it also appears around 3:19 into the Tucker Carlson video here. Here’s a screenshot from that video:
It’s important to point out again that this image, the one with the man standing in front of the car, is real. He really was at CHAZ, but he was later digitally altered in Fox images to look like he was in other places too — including places that weren’t CHAZ, even though the headlines indicated they were.
The original image in front of the car is from Getty, taken on June 10. The caption reads: “A volunteer holds a firearm while working security at an entrance to the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” on June 10, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The zone includes the blocks surrounding the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct, which was the site of violent clashes with Black Lives Matter protesters, who have continued to demonstrate in the wake of George Floyd’s death.”
Here’s are the Getty images.
But he later appears in other images, like this one that appeared on Fox’s website:
That one was in a Fox News slideshow here. The photo superimposes him over two Getty images that were not from CHAZ.
One was taken in Seattle on May 30, before CHAZ. The caption reads: “People walk past a store that’s been looted during a riot following a peaceful rally expressing outrage over the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Protests have erupted nationwide after Floyd died while in the custody of police in Minneapolis.”
The other was also in Seattle, but it was also taken on May 30 before CHAZ was created. It reads: “Looters ransack an Urban Outfitters store following a peaceful rally expressing outrage over the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Protests have erupted nationwide after Floyd died while in the custody of police in Minneapolis.”
An archive was taken of the Fox page showing another digitally alteration. The sign is legitimately from CHAZ, but the man wasn’t standing in front of the sign. No caption or disclaimer could be seen on the page. Fox News added disclaimers on Saturday, which you can read at the end of the first section of this article.
If you’re wondering who the man in the green mask is, you can see another photo of him in the Twitter thread below. Casey Martin on Twitter wrote: “Just spoke with 2 people at #CHAZ entrances with AR-15s. They coordinate with medics & keep an eye on passing cars, people coming in, etc. They are not charging people fees to walk around. People say they feel safer with police gone & thanked this man during my intvw.”
Just spoke with 2 people at #CHAZ entrances with AR-15s. They coordinate with medics & keep an eye on passing cars, people coming in, etc. They are not charging people fees to walk around. People say they feel safer with police gone & thanked this man during my intvw. pic.twitter.com/6hqxv5Bydv
— Casey Martin (@caseyworks) June 11, 2020
A man on Twitter who claims he’s the man in the photos even tweeted about how he was everywhere on Fox.
— James Madison Rights Activist (@MrMadison_AR15) June 12, 2020
He also retweeted this video from CHAZ, showing a peaceful gathering:
Are these the terrorists you are talking about @realDonaldTrump ?
— Exiled (@Papa_Cody) June 11, 2020
And he tweets about his experiences.
Had a good time at the #SeattleAutonomousZone today. Good guard shift at 12th and Pike. Happy I'm home now though. Definitely great to see others out there with us, using their 2nd amendment rights to maintain everyone's 1st. #seattleprotest #Chaz
— James Madison Rights Activist (@MrMadison_AR15) June 11, 2020
Some people are joking that the man in the green mask is turning into a new Where’s Waldo.
But the Seattle Times reported that some photojournalism experts are questioning the use of Fox’s photos. Kenny Irby told the Seattle Times, in part: “I think it’s disgraceful propaganda and terribly misrepresentative of documentary journalism in times like this, when truth-telling and accountability is so important.”
Another expert said that using composites is fine, as long as they are labeled as such and the origin of the photos is made clear.
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