Fox News’ Aretha Franklin tribute called ‘racist’ after using Patti LaBelle picture by mistake

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Fuming: Viewers were disgusted by the Aretha Franklin tribute: Getty Images
Fuming: Viewers were disgusted by the Aretha Franklin tribute: Getty Images

Fox News has come under fire for using a picture of Patti LaBelle in a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin.

The news channel posted an 11-minute video tribute after Franklin’s publicist confirmed she had died, aged 76, at her Detroit home on Thursday morning.

At three minutes in a picture of Franklin was in shot with another of 74-year-old LaBelle performing Somewhere Over the Rainbow for President Barack Obama in 2014.

The video was tweeted out to the channel’s official Twitter account alongside the message: “BREAKING NEWS: Aretha Franklin, ‘Queen of Soul,’ dead at 76.”

Mistake: Fox News used a picture of Patti LaBelle on an Aretha Franklin tribute (Twitter/ Fox News)
Mistake: Fox News used a picture of Patti LaBelle on an Aretha Franklin tribute (Twitter/ Fox News)

Viewers vented their disgust online, with many accusing Fox News of racism and of showing a lack of respect towards Franklin.

Awkward: Patti LaBelle was pictured in the tribute (Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty)
Awkward: Patti LaBelle was pictured in the tribute (Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty)

One tweeted: “#Fox news you dishonored The Queenof Soul - Ms. Aretha Franklin! Her music is in every part of music to this day. Shame on your Racist ignorance!”

Another posted: “Disgusting: Faux News reported Aretha Franklin's death, but posted a picture of Patti LaBelle! Absolutely reprehensible!”

Fox News Vice President, Media Desk Jessica Santostefano issued an apology to Franklin’s family, saying the channel “deeply regrets” the mistake.

“We sincerely apologise to Aretha Franklin’s family and friends,” Santostefano said in a statement to PEOPLE.

“Our intention was to honour the icon using a secondary image of her performing with Patti LaBelle in the full screen graphic, but the image of Ms. Franklin was obscured in that process, which we deeply regret.”

LaBelle was among those who paid tribute to the “rare treasure” after she lost her lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

In a Twitter statement LaBelle posted: “I am deeply saddened about the passing of the Queen of Soul and my sister in song, Aretha Franklin. Today the world has experienced a tremendous loss.

“Aretha was a rare treasure whose unmatched musical genius helped craft the soundtrack to the lives of so many. My sympathy, love and prayers go out to her family, loved ones and fans around the globe.”

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