Fox News Used Digitally Altered Photos in Coverage of Seattle Protests and ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’

Samson Amore

Fox News has repeatedly published digitally altered photographs as part of a series of stories about protests on Seattle’s Capitol Hill that aired June 12.

The misleading images were first discovered by the Seattle Times, which raised the issue to Fox News.

“Fox’s site had no disclaimers revealing the photos had been manipulated. The network removed the images after inquiries from The Seattle Times,” The Times reported June 12.

The photos are purported to be taken inside Seattle’s so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” a six-block radius in downtown Seattle that is now outside police control. The area was established May 25 after Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered Seattle police to abandon their East Precinct station during protests against the May 25 killing of George Floyd. Seattle residents have nicknamed the reclaimed police station the “Seattle People Station.”

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One of the altered images used by Fox News shows a civilian standing outside a demolished storefront with a military assault rifle. The Seattle Times reports the image is not one photograph but a “mashup” of several photos from different days and different photographers — created by layering images from riots in downtown Seattle on May 30 under a Getty Images photo of a man with a gun. Fox News also published an alternate version of this image, where the armed man appeared to stand in front of a sign that said, “You are now entering Free Cap Hill.”

Fox removed the images, telling the Times “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, according to the Times, that statement and the new photos are also misleading.  The gunman photo is from June 10, but the storefront image it has been combined with is a Getty Images photo dated May 30, the paper said.

Fox also used images from protests in other states in its coverage of the Seattle unrest. The network published an image of burning streets in St. Paul, Minnesota as part of its package on Seattle May 30, along with the headline “CRAZY TOWN.” Fox has since also removed that image.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported Seattle is negotiating with Black Lives Matter activists to determine a way to clear the Autonomous Zone and return the area to a semblance of normal. The local activists say they won’t leave the area until the City meets a list of demands, which include redirecting half of the Seattle Police Department’s budget to aid the black community.

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Black Lives Matter spokesperson Jessica Kilpatrick told the Wall Street Journal about the unrest, “it’s a temporary occupation until we get our demands met.”

A Fox News spokesperson provided TheWrap a copy of the editor’s note Fox News published addressing the issue. “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.”

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