Network criticized for sharing manipulated image of Bruce Reinhart on a plane across from the convicted sex trafficker
Fox News has drawn criticism for sharing a photoshopped image of a US magistrate judge, Bruce Reinhart, who signed the search warrant on the recent FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, sitting on a private plane across from the convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell.
Filling in for Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, guest host Brian Kilmeade showed viewers a digitally altered photo of Reinhart holding a bottle of liquor and a pack of Oreo cookies while sitting across from Maxwell with his feet in her lap.
“This is the judge in charge of the … of the warrant and we’ll see if he’s going to release it next. He likes Oreos and whiskey,” Kilmeade said.
The doctored image was derived from an original photo taken in September 2017 when Reinhart was waiting out a hurricane on his back patio while anticipating watching a New York Giants game.
“We interrupt this hurricane for the beginning of football season. Sitting on my back patio, protected by Kevlar screens that are bolted down. Hoping electricity stays on for the Giants-Dallas game tonight,” Reinhart tweeted along with the photo.
Reinhart’s photoshopped image, which Fox News credited to the Twitter user @whatimemetosay, actually comes from a photo in which the deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was posing alongside Maxwell on a private plane, with his feet in her lap.
In June, Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for procuring teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.
Sean Hannity, another Fox News host, pointed out the inauthenticity of the photo when Kilmeade asked, “Sean, can you relate to that?”
Hannity replied, “I think that’s actually a picture of Jeffrey Epstein with somebody putting his head on there … I’m guessing, I don’t know.”
“Who knows?” Kilmeade said.
Kilmeade has since responded to the photo, tweeting, “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.”
Earlier this week, federal investigators searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida while bearing a warrant that sought classified material – including secret documents about nuclear weapons, according to reports – that the Department of Justice believes Trump unlawfully took while he was in office.
Merrick Garland, the attorney general, said that he has personally approved the decision to seek the search warrant and asked to unseal it due to “substantial public interest”.
Trump supported the justice department’s efforts to release the search warrant, writing on his social media platform Truth Social, “Release the Documents Now!”