Fox News reportedly edited photos of Seattle's largely peaceful 'autonomous zone' to include an armed man in front of smashed storefronts

·4 min read
Fox News used this June 10 photo of an armed man in Seattle and combined it with other photographs without disclosing it had done so, according to report.

David Ryder/Getty Images

  • Fox News on Friday displayed digitally altered images on stories on its website that in one case combined photos that were taken more than 10 days apart, according to The Seattle Times.

  • The images, used in a story about protests in Washington, were edited to show an armed man outside of smashed businesses and in front of a sign for the area known as the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone." 

  • The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), an area in Seattle's east precinct, was largely abandoned by police after dayslong clashes with protesters and has seen largely peaceful demonstrations.

  • Fox News in a statement said it "regrets these errors," specifically for not clearly delineating between the images.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Fox News on Friday used digitally-altered photographs to combine separate images of protests in Seattle without telling readers that the photographs had been manipulated, The Seattle Times reported.

According to the report, used a photo that combined an image of a man armed with a military-style rifle, who was photographed on June 10 at a Seattle protest, with another image from May 30 that showed smashed windows in the city left after protests last month turned destructive.

Another spliced-together image combined the photo of the armed man with another image to make it appear as though he was standing in front of a sign that read, "You are now entering Free Cap Hill." 

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), an area in Seattle's east precinct, was largely abandoned by police after dayslong clashes with protesters according to a previous Insider report. Since its abandonment, there have been virtually no police officers present in the area, and inhabitants have participated in mostly peaceful demonstrations — painting murals, serving free food, and screening movies, according to the report.

The existence of the protesters in the CHAZ has further caused political tensions to escalate, with President Donald Trump calling them "ugly Anarchists," and "Domestic Terrorists," while Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has called their actions "patriotism."

As The Seattle Times noted, Fox News also for a time on Friday ran a photograph of a burning building and car — taken in St. Paul, Minnesota also on May 30 — alongside a story about ongoing civil unrest in Seattle. That photo has also since been removed.

One photojournalism ethics expert told The Seattle Times the use of the spliced-together photograph was "terribly misleading." 

According to the National Press Photographers Association's code of ethics, "editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context." Journalists, according to these ethics, are advised to "not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects." 


The photos were removed after The Seattle Times request comment from Fox News.

A Fox News spokesperson on Saturday pointed Business Insider to a note that was added to stories that used the images.

"A 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 statement read. "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."

A spokesperson for the company previously told The Seattle Times the organization "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."

As the newspaper noted, that statement was inaccurate as the images of the gunman and smashed storefronts were taken on separate occasions more than 10 days apart on June 10 and May 30, respectively. 

David Ryder, the photographer who took the photograph of the armed man for Getty Images acknowledged that Fox News' had edited his image in a Friday night tweet.


"Yes, this photo is real," he said Friday. "Yes, it is unethical for Fox News to superimpose this person's image into other, misleading contexts."

As Business Insider previously noted, as nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd have taken a more peaceful turn, Fox News has continued to show visuals from prior weeks' protests that included instances of rioting and looting.

Read more: 

Politicians and influencers have been accused of 'virtue signaling' during police brutality protests, but the callouts could do more harm than good

I'm a Black man who lived near the spot George Floyd was killed. There's no more room for 'Minnesota nice' in conversations about racism.

Canada is having its own reckoning with police brutality against people of color, after a dashcam footage showed an aboriginal chief's violent arrest

'We're tired': Black Americans and allies tell us why they're standing up and speaking out after George Floyd's death


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