Setting the record straight on viral Whitmer photo

Whitmer cropped
Posted at 11:33 AM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 16:24:47-04

(WXYZ) — A viral photo being shared across social media of Gov. Whitmer, purportedly showing her not following her recent executive order on social distancing, features a bill signing that is more than a year old and is in no way related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The still image, circulated on Facebook and Twitter, is of a WXYZ report that aired on 7 Action News This Morning last week. It was part of a story on the $1,000 fines for those who violate the state's social distancing order.

News organizations routinely rely on file video, like the Governor's signing ceremony from January 2019, when broadcasting stories where more current video may not be readily available.

While the report did not expressly identify the video as the Governor signing the social distancing order, it should not have been used in this story as it allowed for confusion and misinterpretation.

In fact, since the COVID-19 outbreak began, the Governor has taken steps to practice social distancing during her press conferences, with only a few reporters present and several feet of space between the Governor, chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and an American Sign Language interpreter.

We recognize the decision to use the video has caused confusion, and WXYZ has internally addressed what allowed it to happen in the first place.

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