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Posts recirculate old, altered photo of fake CNN banner

January 19, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: A CNN broadcast displayed a banner stating that a shooter was “factually Arabic, but morally white.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The image has been manipulated to feature fake text. A CNN representative previously confirmed to The Associated Press that the network didn’t broadcast the banner. The altered image, which originated in 2021 as satire following a shooting in Colorado, recirculated on social media after a man took hostages at a synagogue in Texas on Saturday.

THE FACTS: The manipulated image was widely shared in recent days by social media users who interpreted it as a real still from a CNN broadcast about the gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue over the weekend.

In the altered image, CNN host Brooke Baldwin and correspondent Lucy Kafanov are depicted in a split-screen display. A fabricated chyron below the journalists states, “DEVELOPING STORY INVESTIGATION: SHOOTER WAS FACTUALLY ARABIC, BUT MORALLY WHITE.”

One Twitter user wrote on Tuesday that: “CNN called the terrorist who shot people in Texas, factually Arabic but morally white. You can’t make this stuff up.”

But the banner is fake and the image has been manipulated. The AP previously reported that the fabricated image emerged in March 2021 on The Babylon Bee, a Christian satirical website.

The original image came from a March 2021 broadcast about the shooting at a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket in which 10 people were killed. The actual CNN banner stated: “COLORADO SHOOTING SUSPECT BOOKED INTO JAIL TODAY,” according to a TV news archive.

At the time, a spokesperson for CNN also confirmed in an email to the AP that the chyron on The Babylon Bee site was fabricated and didn’t match the network’s font.

In some of the newer versions of the falsified photo, the CNN dateline listing “Boulder, Colorado,” was cropped out of view.

The gunman who took four people hostage during a 10-hour standoff at the synagogue in a suburb of Dallas was identified as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen who arrived in the U.S. roughly two weeks ago on a tourist visa, officials said. Akram was shot and killed at the end of the standoff.


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.