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• A photo taken by Reuters photographer Leah Millis during the United States Capitol riot on Jan. 6 was not doctored.
• The photo, which depicts a flash of light and smoke, captured a moment at dusk when a flash grenade briefly illuminated the Capitol and tear gas was deployed.
• Video captured by MSNBC at the same time the photo was taken depicts the same details, including the flash of light and smoke.
• The image Posobiec uses to compare Millis' photo to was captured two hours earlier in the day, according to data provided by the videographer who captured it.
On Jan. 6, during the riot at the United States Capitol, Reuters photographer Leah Millis was in the thick of the mob, wearing a gas mask, ballistic helmet and bulletproof vest, perched two stories above the ground on scaffolding she had climbed to get a better vantage point.
From there, she snapped a viral image of the exterior of the Capitol, illuminated, with smoke billowing and rioters in silhouette.
Though the photo was an accurate depiction of the moment, a recent Twitter post claimed it had been "doctored to look as if the Capitol was on fire." The claim came from Jack Posobiec, a conservative activist who frequently supports Donald Trump on Twitter. In an Oct. 24 tweet, Posobiec said the photo was a "quick study in visual media narrative manipulation."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The photo was not doctored. It captured a moment just after the sun had set, when an intense burst of light from a flash grenade was visible and tear gas had been deployed. In an MSNBC video from the scene, the same moment is visible at the 1:33 mark in the video, and the details are identical, including the flash of light and smoke.
A Twitter post claimed that a photo taken by a Reuters photographer on Jan. 6 during the U.S. Capitol riot was "doctored to look as if the Capitol was on fire."
The photo was not doctored. It was taken at dusk, at a moment when intense light from a flash grenade briefly illuminated the Capitol and tear gas was deployed. MSNBC captured the same moment on video, with a timestamp that matches the time the photographer said the photo was taken. Another Reuters photographer and videographer also captured images of the same scene, with similar details.
We rate this claim False.
Fast Company, "How one Reuters photographer captured the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol," Jan. 8, 2021
Fortune, "What it was like to photograph the insurrection at the Capitol," Jan. 9, 2021
LinkedIn profile, accessed Nov. 2, 2021
MSNBC, "Flash grenades, tear gas deployed on exterior Capitol balcony," Jan. 7, 2021
PolitiFact, "Three-hour delay: A Pentagon-National Guard timeline for Jan. 6," March 5, 2021
Today, "The story behind this viral image from Capitol unrest," Jan. 9, 2021
Twitter post, Oct. 24, 2021
Twitter post, Oct. 28, 2021
Twitter post, Nov. 2, 2021
Twitter profile, "L. Vural Elibol," accessed Nov. 2, 2021
Yahoo Finance, "ASX to open higher as US devolves into chaos," Jan. 7, 2021
Direct message interview with Lokman Vural Elibol, Nov. 2, 2021
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