Fox News presenter Brian Kilmeade admitted Friday that he showed a doctored photo of the magistrate judge who authorized an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this week.
While filling in for host Tucker Carlson on Thursday, Kilmeade displayed a fabricated image of Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart having his feet massaged by convicted sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell and holding Oreo cookies and alcohol on a plane.
“Sean, can you relate to that?” Kilmeade asked Fox News personality Sean Hannity, who noted that the photo looked doctored.
″I think that’s actually a picture of [financier and convicted sex offender] Jeffrey Epstein with somebody putting his [Reinhart’s] head on there,” Hannity said. “I’m guessing. I don’t know.”
“Who knows?” Kilmeade said, to which Hannity replied, “I’ll let you determine that in the morning.”
The fake photo seems to be a reference to Reinhart’s past work defending several of Epstein’s employees in court.
On Friday, Kilmeade took to Twitter to clarify that the photo wasn’t real: “Last night while subbing for Tucker Carlson, we showed you an image of Judge Bruce Reinhart w/ Ghislaine Maxwell that was sourced on screen to a meme pulled from Twitter & wasn’t real. This depiction never took place & we wanted to make clear that we were showing a meme in jest.”
Last night while subbing for Tucker Carlson, we showed you an image of Judge Bruce Reinhart w/ Ghislaine Maxwell that was sourced on screen to a meme pulled from Twitter & wasn’t real. This depiction never took place & we wanted to make clear that we were showing a meme in jest.
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) August 12, 2022
So far, Kilmeade has not apologized on air to the viewers who saw the image and possibly believed it to be authentic.
Still, Twitter users read Kilmeade the riot act for pushing misinformation, especially as Reinhart has received violent and antisemitic threats since approving the warrant that authorized this week’s FBI search, according to Vice News.
No you weren't. You weren't. You didn't refer to it as a joke, you presented it as real news. So -- you weren't. And now you're lying about it. You're lying. We all know you're lying. YOU know you're lying. https://t.co/4nwKrqWTa1
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 12, 2022
We were just kidding when we endangered this judge even more than he already is by showing you a doctored picture of Ghislaine Maxwell rubbing his feet because we're a very serious news organization https://t.co/HX6S3tBslu
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) August 12, 2022
It clearly wasn’t in jest and this is clearly not an apology https://t.co/G2vWAuttKS
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) August 12, 2022
There must've been a fun meeting with Fox's lawyers ahead of this tweet: https://t.co/dS0d4XO47g
— Matt Ford (@fordm) August 12, 2022
What was the joke?
And why didn’t you share it on air?
Tensions are too high right now for this sort of misinformation masquerading as a joke after the fact. https://t.co/ZLLqBJDpFl
— Mo Elleithee 🇺🇦 🇺🇸 (@MoElleithee) August 12, 2022
“I’m sorry” after you’ve been busted counts for nothing.
Your entire organization has done as much damage to our country as your mascot, the nuclear clown himself, Donald ‘the John’ Trump. https://t.co/n4tqPlv7p4
— Ken Olin💙 (@kenolin1) August 12, 2022
So many levels of dumb. Especially defaming a federal judge. Sure - go after someone who knows the law intimately. https://t.co/GoEhwtV4vB
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) August 12, 2022
“we wanted to make clear that we were showing a meme in jest because we sure as fuck didn’t do it on the nationally televised ‘news’ program that your MAGA relatives who aren’t on Twitter were watching” https://t.co/MsxVuxwQJx
— Jason Bailey (@jasondashbailey) August 12, 2022
You’re full of shit. You didn’t say anything while it aired, so you either purposely misrepresented it (slander) or you were too stupid to know it was a photoshop (you do seem exceedingly stupid) my conclusion? You are both manipulative and fucking dumb. https://t.co/GWg1wxwM2r
— Tony Atamanuik (@TonyAtamanuik) August 12, 2022
A thing that any regular reporter would quickly have been disciplined or fired for. https://t.co/fLfdNZolOG
— Martin Austermuhle (@maustermuhle) August 12, 2022
You didn’t describe it as a joke on air, tell viewers it wasn’t real, or apologize to the public or this judge for misinforming people: https://t.co/RqXD50Hywy Will you apologize now, & do so again the next time you are on air? If not, will you cede that you are not a journalist?
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) August 12, 2022
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.