An unsourced and unverified claim that CNN altered an image of Oregon university shooter Christopher Mercer to look whiter has been making the rounds of right-wing and conspiracy websites. Is it true?
Nope. It certainly isn’t.
The claim about CNN specifically may have originated from the Conservative Treehouse website, as it doesn’t cite a source for the image or claim.
The fact that there is no CNN branding and no evidence of the image having been photographed from a TV or otherwise captured from a broadcast is the first very big sign that it’s fake.
The image, as shown there and on other websites, appears to have originated from a Twitter user @andieiamwhoiam who tweeted the two versions together at 12:03pm Eastern Time on Friday October 2nd. Her tweet blames “the media” for the whitening, rather than CNN specifically.
While she seems to be the first to have posted that specific combination (and admits having created it) she didn’t create the original edited version of his photo. She had apparently seen it tweeted by another user (@Bastille1790) a little while earlier. That user had tweeted it even an hour before that, saying (as a joke I think) that it was from MSNBC.
Where did @Bastille1790 find it? The answer seems to be 8chan’s /pol/ board where it was posted in a thread about the shootings and the media’s description of him as white by users playing at photoshoping his image to be more white looking.
In fact CNN’s media correspondent, Brian Stelter, pointed out on Twitter that CNN has not broadcast any images of the shooter.