Fact Check: Photo of Steve Bannon With Bloody Mouth Is NOT Authentic

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Photo of Steve Bannon With Bloody Mouth Is NOT Authentic Altered Photo

Is this an authentic photo of Steve Bannon? No, that's not true: This photo has been altered. The original photo was taken by photographer Mark Wilson for Getty Images on April 20, 2017. The photo has been edited to change the overall contrast and color saturation to add blemishes, bloody mouth and stained shirt.

The image search engine TinEye shows early copies of the altered image were published in 2017 by the satire website theonion.com. The altered photo has resurfaced from time to time, recently in a tweet (archived here) published by Jon Cooper, a New York state Democrat who was involved in the presidential efforts of both Barack Obama and Joe Biden, on February 7, 2022. The tweet opened:

"Steve Bannon is... not well. Who agrees?"

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:


(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon Feb 7 22:32:13 2022 UTC)

The original photo by Mark Wilson can be viewed on gettyimages.com. It is captioned:

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 20: (L-R), Presidenital advisor Stephen Miller, Presidential advisor, Steve Bannon and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, listen as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before signing an Executive Memorandum on the investigation of steel imports, in the Oval Office at the White House, on April 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Although the TinEye crawler first encountered the altered image on the satire website theonion.com in August 2017, most of those early links return a 404 error or the image doesn't load. TheOnion.com used the altered image again in an August 20, 2020, slideshow titled, "The Onion Remembers Steve Bannon, Trump's Most Encrusted Advisor." In the screenshot below showing TinEye.com search results, the top thumbnail, also a broken link, is a cropped version of the original photo, and the lower thumbnail is the altered image.


(Image source: TinEye screenshot taken on Tue Feb 08 00:05:06 2022 UTC)

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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