Did Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik really flip off a camera during one of the impeachment hearings? That’s what a viral photo circulating on Facebook appears to show.
No, Stefanik did not flip the bird during or after at the hearing. The image has been manipulated.
The image looks as if Stefanik, who represents New York’s 21st district, is using the hand gesture while her colleagues stand in the background.
The Facebook post’s caption reads:
"US Representative Elise Stafanik and an ‘always trumper’ gives bird finger to the Democrats at the trump impeachment hearing. Classy!"
The image was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We consulted with FotoForensics, a visual analysis tool, which showed evidence that the image was altered to include the gesture. What’s more, the viral photo shows a raised finger with dark red fingernail polish on it. Photos taken by the Associated Press during the Nov. 15 hearing at which this altered picture was supposedly taken show Stefanik was not wearing such a color on her nails.
The manipulated version of the photo gained traction online after it was posted in a now-deleted tweet on Nov. 16. When it was pointed out that the photo was fake, the Twitter user, Brian J. O’Malley, deleted the tweet, acknowledged the mistake and apologized to Stefanik.
Stefanik did draw attention during the impeachment hearings, especially during the Nov. 15 testimony of former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Stefanik accused House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff of trying to undermine Republicans when he interrupted her line of questioning.
Stefanik may have voiced her displeasure at the hearing, but there is no evidence she used this vulgar hand gesture. We rate this Pants on Fire!