Q13 Fox, an affiliate of Fox News ran an edited version of President Trump’s speech to the nation that showed him horribly disfigured and unable to speak clearly and made him look like the poster boy for Florida oranges. Q13 news director Erica Hill wrote in an email statement:
“This does not meet our editorial standards and we regret if it is seen as portraying the president in a negative light.”
A little while later, she sent out a second message:
“We’ve completed our investigation into this incident and determined that the actions were the result of an individual editor whose employment has been terminated.”
Altering and manipulating images has become all the more easy and tempting in today’s world of fractured politics and accessible technology.
Last year, a video of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez ripping a copy of the U.S. Constitution whipped conservatives into a froth. Gonzalez never did such a thing; the original picture was of her ripping a paper gun target. The video had been doctored and spread via social media.
In 2010, the Economist got into trouble for altering a photo to remove people standing on a beach with former President Barack Obama. Obama and two other people were at a Louisiana beach, with oil platforms in the distance. A photo editor at the magazine cropped out one person and digitally removed the other, creating the illusion of Obama standing alone at water’s edge contemplating the damage.
More common these days, however, are images altered by social-media users and circulated to stoke political ire, as the Gonzalez video did; to spread misinformation or disinformation; to target and harass particular people. For example, a recent Washington Post story explained how realistic-looking pornographic videos are being digitally generated to humiliate women. A fake sex tape, with “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot’s face swapped onto someone else’s body, circulated in 2017.