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No evidence video color was manipulated in CNN news segment

September 10, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: CNN altered the color in Joe Rogan’s Instagram video to make him look sickly.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. An analysis of the video used by CNN in a report about talk show host Joe Rogan contracting COVID-19 found no sign that the color had been altered. CNN confirmed no changes were made to the color of the video.

THE FACTS: Rogan posted on Instagram September 1 that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Turns out I got COVID. So we immediately threw the kitchen sink at it,” Rogan said in the video. “Monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, z-pack, prednisone.”

The video was picked up by CNN for a report by Anderson Cooper in which he discussed ivermectin, which has not been approved in the U.S. for treatment of coronavirus. Health experts and medical groups are pushing to stamp out the growing use of the decades-old parasite drug to treat COVID-19, warning that it can cause harmful side effects and that there’s little evidence it helps.

On Thursday, the Joe Rogan Experience Fans Page posted a side-by-side comparison of two images _ one said to come from Rogan’s Instagram video and labeled “JOE LOOKS PERFECTLY HEALTHY AND BRIGHT,” and the other, which was slightly darker and grayer, saying “YELLOW FILTER + BLUR MAKE HIM LOOK ’SICK.”

But frame-by-frame analysis by The Associated Press and a digital forensic expert found no evidence of alteration.

“There is no evidence that the clip from Anderson Cooper’s show is manipulated or altered from the original Instagram video in an attempt to alter Rogan’s appearance,” said Hany Farid, professor at University of California Berkeley’s School of Information, whose research focuses on digital forensics, image analysis and human perception.

Farid said he compared the hue of several frames from the CNN video with the same frames from Rogan’s Instagram, and found they were nearly identical. Farid did see some blurriness in the Anderson Cooper video, which he attributed to it being cropped closer to Rogan’s face.

The image in the Facebook post identified as being from the original did show signs of being altered, Farid said.

In this purported original, the Facebook post appears different from the original Instagram video,” Farid said. “It appears that the color is shifted towards red and away from the yellow/green appearance in the original Instagram video.”

CNN also said the color in the video had not been changed.

“The image was not altered using Photoshop or any filter,” CNN said in a statement emailed to the AP. “The raw upload was ingested using the direct link to Joe Rogan’s Instagram video, which was then cut for TV.”

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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.