Fact Check

Is the Bill Clinton 'Sickness' Photo Real?

A picture of former U.S. President Bill Clinton showed up in an online ad with the caption, "His Sickness Is So Obvious Now."

Published May 18, 2022

An online advertisement with a photo of former U.S. President Bill Clinton said that, "His Sickness Is So Obvious Now." (Google Ads)
An online advertisement with a photo of former U.S. President Bill Clinton said that, "His Sickness Is So Obvious Now." (Image Via Google Ads)
Claim:
An online ad shows a genuine picture of former U.S. President Bill Clinton with the caption, "His Sickness Is So Obvious Now."
Context

The ad was misleading. The original photograph of Clinton was captured in December 2014, more than seven years before the ad appeared in May 2022. Also, it was doctored to increase redness in his face. Further, the ad led to a lengthy slideshow article that did nothing but simply detail the former president's very public health history.

Origin

Fact Check

In May 2022, we reviewed an online ad hosted by Google that showed a picture of former U.S. President Bill Clinton with the caption, "His Sickness Is So Obvious Now." According to the ad, the photograph and resulting article would reveal an illness that Clinton was currently dealing with. However, all of this was misleading and false.

An online advertisement with a photo of former US President Bill Clinton said that his sickness is so obvious now.
The ad in question.

We found the original picture of Clinton from the "sickness" ad on the WireImage and Getty Images websites. Other photographs taken on the same evening showed that he had been accompanied by his wife, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The original picture was shot on Dec. 20, 2014, years before it appeared in the misleading ad:

Tie, Accessories, Accessory
Former President of the United States Bill Clinton attends "Last Ship" and "Saturday Night Scream Christmas Carols Benefiting New York Cares Coat Drive" on Dec. 20, 2014, in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

The version of the picture in the ad had been doctored to increase redness in his face:

An online advertisement with a photo of former US President Bill Clinton said that his sickness is so obvious now.
Redness in Clinton's face, in particular around his eyes, appeared to have been increased in the version of the photograph that appeared in the ad.

In 2016, KnowYourMeme.com catalogued the history of the doctored picture of Clinton's purported "sickness" or illness with the meme title, "AIDS Bill Clinton / Terminally Bill." The page reported that the altered version of the photograph was first believed to have been posted to Reddit.

As for the ad, after we clicked it we were led to a lengthy slideshow article. Deep within the article was a single page about Clinton. The three sentences on the page did little else but detail his very public history of health scares.

According to BBC.com, in 2021, the former president was treated for a urinary tract infection. He also had previous surgeries for "extensive" heart disease and a clogged artery. However, we found no reporting that mentioned Clinton was dealing with a specific "sickness" that might show up in his complexion, as hinted by the clickbait ad.

For further reading of past fact checks about Clinton, we previously reported in 2017 about a false rumor that claimed he was on his death bed. We also confirmed the authenticity of pictures that showed Clinton speaking with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell inside the White House in 1993, as well as a more dated photograph that truly showed him shaking hands with former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Sources:

“AIDS Bill Clinton / Terminally Bill.” Know Your Meme, https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/aids-bill-clinton-terminally-bill.

“Bill Clinton: Former US President Discharged from Hospital.” BBC News, 17 Oct. 2021. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58947175.

“Former President of the United States Bill Clinton Attend Last Ship... | WireImage | 460734560.” WireImage.Com, 20 Dec. 2014, https://www.wireimage.com/celebrity-pictures/Former-President-of-the-United-States-Bill-Clinton-attend-Last-Ship/460734560.

Jordan Liles is a Snopes reporter with expertise in investigating misinformation, inauthentic social media activity, and scams.

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