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CNN did not alter the skin tone of gunman who drove into Seattle protest

June 16, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Side-by-side photos show that CNN lightened the skin of the gunman who drove a car into a Seattle protest to make him appear white. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. CNN did not alter the skin tone of the gunman who drove into a George Floyd protest in Seattle on June 7 and shot one person. One of the photos used in the image was manipulated to make the gunman’s skin lighter, and a CNN logo was added. 

THE FACTS: Posts circulating online are falsely suggesting that CNN got caught doctoring an image of a Seattle gunman to lighten his skin tone. The fabricated image shows side-by-side photos: one that shows the actual event and the other has been altered to lighten the gunman’s skin and add the CNN logo. The photo was shared across social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit. 


“CNN lightened the photo of the man who drove into the protester last night in Seattle. They said he was  the real photo. you understand they are getting everyone riled up with LIES,” said an Instagram post with the image, which had more than 7,000 likes. 

Video taken by The Seattle Times of the protest on Capitol Hill in Seattle, shows the gunman driving into protesters, hitting a barricade and then exiting his car holding a pistol. In a June 8 article on the incident, CNN did not include photos or video of the gunman. 

CNN confirmed to the AP that the logo added to the photo is not CNN style. Bridget Leininger, CNN senior director of communications, told the AP in an email that the photo appears doctored. 

The altered photo began circulating on social media shortly after the gunman plowed into the June 7 protest. On June 8, 4Chan users uploaded the side-by-side image with the CNN logo saying “white supremacist shoots protester.”

“CNN is up to their no good tricks again,” the poster said. 

The manipulated photo was shared widely across pro-Trump and conservative Facebook groups and pages where it received more than 50,000 interactions. 

It’s not the first time manipulated photos have circulated with claims falsely accusing CNN of lightening skin tone. In 2018, posts falsely claimed the cable news network made Cesar Sayoc, who pleaded guilty to mailing pipe bombs to Democrats, look whiter.



 This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: