Fox News used heavily altered photos for their coverage of the protests and unrest in Seattle, Washington on Friday. The Seattle Times confirmed that the images used in some of Fox's online stories and TV coverage were digitally edited, adding heavily-armed people to otherwise peaceful pictures. Many photojournalists have now spoken out, calling this a clear and dangerous breach of ethics.
Fox News ran stories about Seattle's "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" on Friday — a neighborhood that demonstrators have blocked off with barricades to prevent police from entering. While many reports indicate that the area has been peaceful with a spirit of cooperation, Fox's website showed pictures to the contrary, including one in particular of a man standing at the barricades with an assault rifle. The Seattle Times discovered that this figure was cropped out of another, unrelated photo and added to this one.
Fox also ran this scary image of a burning city above a package of stories about Seattle headlined CRAZY TOWN. The photo was from May 30 in St. Paul, Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/kr319xfmOO— Jim Brunner (@Jim_Brunner) June 13, 2020
This was just one of the misleading images published by Fox News on Friday. Another showed the same man edited so that he was standing in front of a smashed storefront, while a third indicated that the man was edited into a night time scene for Tucker Carlson's show. According to The Seattle Times, these pictures were drawn from Getty Images, coming from different areas at different times.
One of the pictures Fox used was not even taken in Seattle — it was a photo from St. Paul, Minnesota on May 30. Fox posted it alongside the headline "CRAZY TOWN: Seattle Helpless as Armed Guards Patrol Anarchists' 'Autonomous Zone, Shake Down Businesses: Cops."
When reporters from The Times reached out to Fox News, all of the images were reportedly removed from their site at once. A spokeswoman for the network responded 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." Reporters noted that this is still inaccurate, since the two photos were taken nearly three weeks apart, and there was no disclaimer on the site warning that the picture was not real.
The images were a part of Fox's extensive coverage of CHAZ — the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone — which has reportedly been mostly peaceful since it was separated from the rest of the city. Most of the activity there has consisted of painting murals, sharing food and creating documentaries about the ongoing protests around the country. Some armed individuals have been seen withing CHAZ.
When the doctored images were pointed out, some social media users called on the FCC to intervene in some way. Others argued that the FCC should punish President Donald Trump as well, for referring to the protesters as "domestic terrorists."