FACT CHECK: Did CNN Lighten The Skin Color Of The Officers Charged In Tyre Nichols’ Death?

Anna Mock | Fact Check Reporter

A photo shared on Facebook allegedly shows a CNN graphic that lightened the skin of the police officers charged in the death of Tyre Nichols. 

Verdict: False

This image is digitally fabricated. A CNN spokesperson confirmed that the image is fabricated in an email to Check Your Fact.

Fact Check: 

Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died in a hospital three days after being viciously beaten by five Memphis police officers following a traffic stop for reckless driving, according to CNN. Four of the five officers charged in his murder had previous infractions with the department, NPR reports.

The Facebook post purportedly shows CNN coverage of the incident that includes pictures of five police officers that appear to be edited to lighten their skin tone. The image features Lydia Kinkade, a blonde news anchor next to the photo. “Five white supremacists charged with the murder of beloved space engineer Tyre Nichols,” the alleged chyron reads.

“Wait, did CNN really adjust the brightness to make the officers look white?” the post reads. The claim was also shared on Twitter, amassing over 2,200 retweets. (RELATED: Is CNN’s Atlanta, Georgia Headquarters Closing Due To Financial Losses?)

The screenshot has been digitally fabricated, however. The alleged image cannot be found on CNN’s verified Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts or through a search of CNN’s websiteCheck Your Fact no credible news reports to match the chyron shown in the image.

“This post is fabricated. And that’s not our banner,” a CNN spokesperson confirmed in an email to Check Your Fact.

The image of the CNN reporter, Lynda Kinkade, was taken from a 2016 broadcast on the arrest of Mexican drug lord El Chapo, and the frame used can be seen at the 0:46 mark. According to PesaCheck, an African fact-checking website, this is a meme template found online. The organization also debunked a story that used the same template.

Nichols was not a “space engineer” as the fabricated chyron claims. He was an aspiring photographer with an affinity for landscape photos.

This is not the first time misinformation attributed to CNN with the same template has circulated on social media. Check Your Fact previously debunked a claim in August 2022 suggesting Russian authorities had requested a DNA test of professional women’s basketball player Brittney Griner during her detention.

Anna Mock

Fact Check Reporter