A South Carolina local Fox-affiliate station, Fox 24, used a mugshot of a Black 22-year-old shoplifter when reporting about Democratic South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison.
Harrison, who is Black, bald and in his mid-40s, bears no resemblance to the young Black woman displayed on the show.
Javondrea Shaidasha McLeod was being moved to the detention center in a transport vehicle on Wednesday when she attacked the transport officer and escaped, according to WCIV.
Although the station quickly corrected the mistake and ended the segment swiftly, the damage to the station's reputation and its objectivity is in full effect.
South Carolina Rep. JA Moore is demanding accountability for the egregious mistake of identity.
"They need to issue a formal apology. Jaime has my full support and I stand with him."
“It is shocking and deeply disturbing that a news organization would make this kind of error, which raises serious questions about their commitment to fair coverage, especially as Americans are marking Black History Month,” Guy King, a spokesman from Harrison's campaign told Blavity.
The conservative media company that owns the station, Sinclair Broadcast Group, is a powerhouse of local television stations with 173 local stations across America. This is troubling for the fact that about 85% of Americans trust local news outlets and 77% trust family or friends, according to the Pew Research Center.
If the mistake was not corrected, or maybe perhaps some were fooled into believing the mugshot featured was Harrison, it could have stirred mass confusion about Harrison's background and campaign.
Unacceptable that @FOX24Charleston would use a mugshot instead of an actual photo of @harrisonjaime in this news story. They need to issue a formal apology. Jaime has my full support and I stand with him. pic.twitter.com/c4bgJRGcAQ— SC Representative JA Moore (@jamooreforsc15) February 6, 2020
Fox 24 has yet to comment on the mistake any further or apologize.
The intent of the morning news report was to, apparently, talk about Harrison's Thursday meet-and-greet with voters in Summerville at Coastal Coffee Roasters.
The local Fox-affiliate station, WTAT-TV, is one on the long lists of Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned or operated channels, a media conglomerate owned by the wealthy conservative family and founded by Julian Sinclair Smith.
Sinclair-owned stations have a reputation for pushing right-leaning opinions. The stations have engaged in politically motivated programming decisions that artificially help the Republican Party gain favorable coverage during or leading up to the elections.
Harrison was the first Black man to become a South Carolina Democratic Party chair. It is a long shot for Harrison unseating Sen. Lindsey Graham in a solidly Republican state, but Harrison is hoping independent voters can rally him on issues like Medicaid expansion.
Harrison pointed out how Graham's lack of town halls and frequent Fox News appearances make him appear less interested in serving the people of South Carolina and more self-serving.
“He hasn’t done a town hall in over two years, but he’s on Fox News every other night,” Harrison told Vox in 2019.