An image has been shared repeatedly in social media posts ahead of the Australian federal elections that purports to show a front page from a News Corp paper urging readers to vote Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison out of office. However, the image has been doctored to add Morrison's face onto the body of former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was originally pictured on the paper's front page in 2013. A spokesperson for the paper told AFP the image circulating in misleading social media posts was a "digital manipulation".
The image was shared here by an Australia-based Facebook user on April 18, 2022.
It appears to show a front page from The Daily Telegraph, an Australian tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's Australian flagship media group News Corp.
The purported front page shows Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Its headline reads: "Finally you have the chance to… Kick this rat out".
Screenshot of the doctored image. Taken April 26, 2022.
The post circulated shortly after Morrison called federal elections for May 21, launching a come-from-behind battle to stay in power after three years rocked by floods, bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Comments on the Facebook posts from some social media users indicated they were misled.
One user wrote, "This is a surprising front page for a Murdoch paper", a reference to how the Murdoch press in Australia has typically been supportive of Morrison's conservative government.
Another person commented, "Spoken by those that have had the free handouts cut back", an apparent reference to a claim debunked by the Australian Associated Press that Morrison's government gave millions of dollars to Murdoch's News Corp.
In fact, the purported front page has been doctored.
A keyword search in The Daily Telegraph's archives found no matches for the purported front page.
A spokesperson from The Daily Telegraph told AFP that the image in the misleading posts was fake, saying it was "a digital manipulation by persons/authors unknown".
"The manipulation with text, photo, and image changes is loosely based on an actual The Daily Telegraph front page from 2013," they said.
A reverse image search on Google, followed by a keyword search, found the image had been altered from another front page published by The Daily Telegraph on August 5, 2013.
It featured former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who held office as leader of the opposition Labor party from June to September 2013.
The original headline reads: "Finally you have the chance to… Kick this mob out".
Below is a comparison of the image shared in misleading social media posts (left) and the original front page post published by The Daily Telegraph (right):
In the manipulated image, Scott Morrison's head has been inserted onto Kevin Rudd's shoulders.
The original image of Morrison is from a press conference he held as then Immigration Minister on July 25, 2014, as captured by AFP's William West here.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the manipulated image (left) and the original image captured by William West (right):