A photograph posted by Congressman Matt Gaetz purportedly showing former NFL running back and Pensacola native Emmitt Smith holding a “Stand for the flag, kneel for the cross” shirt is fake.

On Tuesday, Northwest Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz published a post on his Facebook page in which he posted an altered photo of former NFL running back and Pensacola native Emmitt Smith holding up a shirt that read, “Stand for the flag, kneel for the cross.”

This is not a genuine photograph of Emmitt Smith. Both the pictured person’s face and the t-shirt design have been altered. The post, captured in a screenshot, shows Smith’s head and hands pasted onto the image.

The altered photo Gaetz posted Tuesday.

Gaetz’s caption read, “Northwest Florida values from our very own!” The post by Gaetz comes amidst the controversy over athletes kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality.

Users immediately lambasted Gaetz after the posting. Nearly an hour after sharing the doctored image, the freshman congressman deleted the post.

“For someone who has a college degree, you would think you would understand how to use a source,” one commenter wrote.

“This is just the level of research I’ve come to expect from you,” another stated.

The original image was taken in the gift lounge at the MGM Grand Arena during the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on April 7, 2013, and showed musician George Strait holding a “Straight Shootin Country Boy” t-shirt.

The snafu comes in the wake of Gaetz’s repeated claims that media outlets are spreading “fake news,” a term largely coined by President Trump, who has himself often shared false information on Twitter, his primary form of communication with the public.

When reached for comment Tuesday morning, Gaetz did not acknowledge the error and said he did not wish to comment on the issue.


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