A photograph purportedly showing former Senator Robert Byrd wearing Ku Klux Klan robes has been circulating online for several years, but the image is demonstrably fake.
While Byrd was a member of the infamous hate group in his younger years, he left the organization in the 1940s:
"I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times ... and I don't mind apologizing over and over again. I can't erase what happened."
Byrd became a high profile politician and was the longest serving Senator at the time of his death in 2010.
This image first appeared online when it was posted to the web site Strange Cosmos in June 2004. While the web site did not specifically state that the image had been doctored, Strange Cosmos is a joke web site that prides itself on its politically incorrect content:
Occasionally, you will come across a Picture, Joke or Article a bit risqu? and maybe even Politically Incorrect. DEAL WITH IT ! This is an Entertainment site. No matter what we post here ? it is going to offend or irritate someone. Handle it. Our intent is not to offend anyone.
The above-displayed image is a composite of at least two different photographs. While the source image for the body is unknown, the image of Byrd's face was taken from an official U.S. Senate portrait:
While the manipulated image of Robert Byrd in Klan garb originated in 2004, the image saw a resurgence in popularity during the 2016 presidential elections. This image was frequently attached to an image of Byrd kissing Hillary Clinton on the cheek, insinuating that Clinton had a relationship with the senator while he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.