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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 22, 2024

No, photos don’t prove a CNN reporter is a crisis actor or that mass shootings were staged

If Your Time is short

  • Barbara Starr was a longtime CNN correspondent. A review of CNN stories shows she contributed to coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, in 2015.

  • One image in this post comes from a YouTube video that shows an interview with a woman identified as Victoria Munoz, who said she was a friend of the mother of the perpetrator in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting. Another 

  • There is no credible evidence to support the claim that Starr posed as a witness at multiple high-profile crime scenes.

"How do you know when it’s a staged event?" reads the text in a March 13 Facebook post. "When CNN’s Barbara Starr is on the scene as a witness crisis actor." 

The post shows an image of Starr, a former CNN correspondent who is now a senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, alongside four other images of women. The images are labeled "Sandy Hook," "Boston," "Watertown" and "San Bernardino." 

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

(Screenshot from Facebook)

We tried to reach Starr at the Annenberg Center and were unsuccessful. CNN did not comment on the post.

We identified one of the people in the other photos in the post, and we found no evidence that the photos show Starr — or prove the crimes cited in the post were staged.

Featured Fact-check

The woman in the image labeled "Sandy Hook" is identified in a YouTube video as Victoria Munoz, a friend of the mother of the shooter in the 2012 attack that left 26 children and staff members dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

We’ve previously debunked false flag and crisis actor claims about the Sandy Hook shooting and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Plus, Starr was busy contributing to CNN’s coverage of two of these incidents: the Boston Marathon bombing and the 2015 fatal mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. 

False flag conspiracies aren’t new and Facebook is among the biggest sources of mass shooting misinformation. 

We count this post among those peddling falsehoods. Pants on Fire!

PolitiFact Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Our Sources

Facebook post, March 13, 2024

PolitiFact, Why do some people think mass shootings are staged every time?, Aug. 8, 2019

PolitiFact, No, this Sandy Hook shooting victim’s father isn’t an actor, Oct. 20, 2022

PolitiFact, No, the same woman didn’t pretend to be a shooting victim and the mothers of shooting victims, Aug. 14, 2019

CNN, San Bernardino: At least 14 people killed in mass shooting; suspect identified, Dec. 3, 2015

CNN, No immediate suggestion of accomplices in Boston bombings, April 20, 2013

YouTube, Friends of Nancy Lanza Tell me what sort of woman she was, Dec. 15, 2012


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No, photos don’t prove a CNN reporter is a crisis actor or that mass shootings were staged

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