Breitbart is mocked for using photo of Lukas Podolski for human trafficking story.

Breitbart Uses Photo of German Soccer Star to Illustrate Human Trafficking Story

Breitbart Uses Photo of German Soccer Star to Illustrate Human Trafficking Story

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Aug. 20 2017 1:13 PM

Breitbart Uses Photo of German Soccer Star to Illustrate Human Trafficking Story

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The photo that Breitbart used to illustrate a human trafficking story depicts Germany's national soccer player Lukas Podolski riding as a passenger on a jet ski near the village of Santo Andre, near Porto Seguro, Brazil, on June 10, 2014.

Mere days after Steve Bannon returned at the helm, the far-right website Breitbart seemed to identify German international soccer star Lukas Podolski as some sort of human trafficking victim. The website posted a photo of Podolski on the back of a jet ski (making a peace sign!) to illustrate a story headlined “Spanish Police Crack Gang Moving Migrants on Jet-Skis.”

It’s not just that Breitbart didn’t seem to know who one of Germany’s most famous soccer stars was but also that the photo in question wasn’t even taken at the Spanish coast. In fact, the photo is from 2014 World Cup in Brazil and depicts a moment of levity when the German team was enjoying a day off at the beach.

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As could be expected, social media had a field day with Breitbart’s “epic fail” of a mistake. “Breitbart thinks that Lukas Podolski (yes, the footballer) has a jet-skiing army that goes around the Med rounding up immigrants,” wrote someone on Twitter. Another Twitter user noted that while Podolski “was criminal for Arsenal … that’s a bit extreme.”

Breitbart quickly pulled the photo and then issued a correction, or rather, a strangely defensive “editor’s note”:

A previous version of this story included an image of Lukas Podolski on a jet ski. This image appeared as an illustration of a person on a jet ski. Breitbart London wishes to apologise to Mr. Podolski. There is no evidence Mr. Podolski is either a migrant gang member, nor being human trafficked. We wish Mr. Podolski well in his recently announced international retirement.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.