Josh Mandel Campaign Ad Was Not Photoshopped, Contrary to Social Media Posts

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Quick Take 

In a campaign ad, Josh Mandel, a Republican Senate candidate from Ohio, shared an image of himself as a Marine with a group of Black troops. Social media posts falsely claim that Mandel photoshopped his head onto the body of a Black Marine. The Mandel campaign denied the claim and provided the media with a copy of the original image.


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Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel of Ohio released a video campaign ad on April 5 titled “Equality,” expressing his opposition to the teaching of critical race theory.  

Critical race theory is the study of institutional racism as a means to better understand and address racial inequality. 

In the campaign ad, which includes photos from Mandel’s service as a Marine in Iraq, Mandel says: “I didn’t do two tours in Anbar province fighting alongside Marines of every color to come home and be called a racist. There’s nothing racist about stopping critical race theory and loving America.”

In one of the photos (shown to the left), Mandel is pictured in the center, standing with a group of five Black Marines.

Mandel enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves in 2000 and served two tours as an intelligence specialist while stationed in Iraq.

After the campaign ad was released, posts on social media falsely claimed that Mandel edited the image with the Black Marines by photoshopping his head “on the body of a Black soldier.”  

“Ohio pro-Trump U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel puts a photo of himself standing with black soldiers in his last campaign ad,” read a post shared by the progressive group Occupy Democrats. “The only problem is that he forgot to Photoshop the hands that clearly show he put his face on the body of a Black soldier. PASS THIS ON TO EXPOSE THIS FRAUD!”

That post was later deleted. But other social media posts continue to spread the claim.

“​​To ‘prove’ he isn’t racist — Ohio U.S. Senate candidate @JoshMandelOhio put a photo of himself standing with black soldiers in his latest campaign ad,” reads a viral post on Twitter. As of April 8, the tweet has received more than 61,000 likes and 15,200 retweets.

A post on Facebook shows a screenshot of the tweet with the caption, “Josh Mandel: OK, how so I prove I’m not racist? *ponders until a headache forms in the first 5 seconds* I know! *watches White Chicks*.” 

Another Facebook post reads, “Josh Mandel was in such a hurry to prove he isn’t a racist in his latest ad, he forgot to photoshop the hands of the guy he put his head on.” The post includes a photo of Mandel from the ad with the hands circled.

But a reporter at Politico, Natalie Allison, posted on Twitter what she said was the original photo of Mandel with his fellow Marines.

“You folks asked if Josh Mandel’s campaign photoshopped his head onto a Black man, and I looked for answers. They did not, the campaign says. It appears a darkening filter was used on the ad. Here’s the original photo for comparison,” she tweeted while sharing both the photo used in the ad and the original image.  

A national reporter for NBC News, Henry J. Gomez, tweeted that he spoke to the ad producer who said he thinks the photo was darkened “to make white type readable, but clear we didn’t switch anything!”

Mandel spokesman Scott Guthrie also provided the Associated Press with a copy of the original photo. “It’s obvious that Josh’s head was not photoshopped,” Guthrie told AP.

We reached out to Mandel’s campaign for comment, but did not hear back.

We could find no evidence that Mandel’s head was photoshopped into the image.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.  

Sources  

Allison, Natalie (Anatalie_allison). “You folks asked if Josh Mandel’s campaign photoshopped his head onto a Black man, and I looked for answers. They did not, the campaign says. It appears a darkening filter was used on the ad. Here’s the original photo for comparison.” Twitter. 5 Apr 2022.

Associated Press. “FACT FOCUS: Josh Mandel Senate Campaign Ad Scrutinized.” USNews.com. 6 Apr 2022.

Evans, Chris (@notcapnamaerica). “Holy shit. To “prove” he isn’t racist — Ohio U.S. Senate candidate @JoshMandelOhio put a photo of himself standing with black soldiers in his latest campaign ad. Problem is he forgot to Photoshop the hands that clearly show he put his face on the body of a black soldier.” Twitter. 5 Apr 2022. 

Gomez, Henry J. (@HenryJGomez). “GOP ad maker Fred Davis, who produced this spot for Mandel, told me he believes the photo was darkened “to make white type readable, but clear we didn’t switch anything!” Also have seen this original that Natalie has. Quite the rabbit hole we ended up down today.” Twitter. 5 Apr 2022.

Guillen, Joe. “Experience as a Marine frames Josh Mandel’s candidacy for Ohio treasurer.” Cleveland.com. Updated 19 Oct 2010.

Josh Mandel For Senate. “Equality.” YouTube. 5 Apr 2022.

Sawchuk, Stephen. “What Is Critical Race Theory, and Why Is It Under Attack?” EducationWeek. 18 May 2021.

Tulp, Sophia. “FACT FOCUS: Josh Mandel Senate campaign ad scrutinized.” Associated Press. 6 Apr 2022.

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