Fabricated image of CNN broadcast shows officers charged in Memphis killing with lighter skin

February 2, 2023 GMT
The CNN logo is displayed at the entrance to the CNN Center in Atlanta on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. Social media users are sharing an image showing a fabricated CNN broadcast that adjusted the brightness to lighten the skin of the Memphis police officers charged in the killing of Tyre Nichols. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
The CNN logo is displayed at the entrance to the CNN Center in Atlanta on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. Social media users are sharing an image showing a fabricated CNN broadcast that adjusted the brightness to lighten the skin of the Memphis police officers charged in the killing of Tyre Nichols. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

CLAIM: An image shows a CNN broadcast that adjusted the brightness to lighten the skin of the Memphis police officers charged in the killing of Tyre Nichols.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The image is not from a CNN broadcast, a spokesperson for the network told The Associated Press. It was created using an image from a 2016 segment, which has been used previously as a template for similarly fabricated images.

THE FACTS: Authorities released video footage Jan. 27, which showed Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, brutally attacked by police in Memphis, Tennessee. In the days following the release of the footage, social media users have been sharing a fabricated CNN broadcast with altered photos of the five police officers charged with attacking Nichols.

The altered image shows CNN reporter Lynda Kinkade, alongside photographs of the five Memphis officers, who are all Black. The photographs of the officers have been altered to make their skin look white.

Text in the chyron at the bottom of the screen reads: “FIVE WHITE SUPREMACISTS CHARGED WITH THE MURDER OF BELOVED SPACE ENGINEER TYRE NICHOLS.”

A tweet that shared the altered image stated: “Uhmmmmmmm why did @CNN adjust the brightness to make the officers in memphis look white? This is next level High contrast propaganda #DefundCNN #MemphisPolice #memphisprotest”

CNN spokesperson Emily Kuhn confirmed in an email to the AP that the image was fabricated. She also noted the chyron in the image does not match the format of CNN’s standard chyron, which features taller and narrower text.

An Internet Archive search shows the image of Kinkade was taken from a CNN broadcast in 2016, where she is seen wearing the same outfit.

Altered images from CNN broadcasts and fabricated headlines allegedly published by the outlet have previously spread online.

Nichols was pulled over in a traffic stop the night of Jan. 7 and was brutally attacked by Memphis police. He died three days later at a hospital. The five officers were all fired on Jan. 20 and charged Jan. 26 with second-degree murder and other crimes. Nichols’ funeral was held on Wednesday, blending a celebration of his life with outraged calls for police reform.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.