A number of publications will undoubtedly write year-end wrap-ups of President Donald Trump’s first year, but what about all of the things the Commander-in-Chief didn’t actually do in 2017?
Like his predecessor, the 45th President of the United States (and his family) were frequently the subject of digital hoaxes. Trump’s head was digitally added onto other people’s bodies, certain physical attributes were exaggerated in unflattering ways, and photographs of Trump impersonators committing vile acts were circulated as if they were authentic.
Here are some hoax photographs of President Trump — and a few of his family — that were passed around on social media in 2017.
In July 2017, a Facebook page accused CNN of doctoring a video to show President Trump ripping off a Marine’s hat and placing it on the ground:
This actual footage has been reversed to make it seem like an opportunistic hat-grab. However, the real video (which actually did air on CNN) showed Trump picking up the soldier’s hat and placing it back on his head.
If you only count genuine issues of Time magazine, then Donald Trump has graced the cover fourteen times. If you include the fakes, well, that number grows by at least two. One fake Time Magazine cover was spotted at one of his golf courses, and another was circulated in June 2017 under the title “Liar in Chief”:
What do police officers think of President Trump? According to a doctored image, a group of officers escorting Trump to his golf course rode in a phallic formation around the President’s car. The image is fake, of course, and has actually been around since at least 2014, when it was shared with similar jokes about Russian leader Vladimir Putin:
Trump’s coloring and appearance was the subject of ridicule throughout the first year of his presidency. And although Trump may not be as svelte as his predecessor, many of the photographs purportedly showing Trump’s poor physical condition have been exaggerated.
Videographer Vic Berger, for instance, took a genuine image of Trump (left) and then added some subtle tweaks and changes to make an unflattering image of the president:
Another unflattering image of Trump purportedly shows the president golfing. This image, however, was created by pasting Trump’s face onto the body of legendary golfer John Daly:
In June 2017 we saw a number of “leaked” photographs purportedly showing Trump in compromising positions. In reality, these images were created by simply adding Trump’s head onto other people’s bodies.
This, for instance, does not portray Trump wearing a diaper in an unflatteringly-lit sex dungeon, but a digital creation:
This is not Trump with a stripper on his lap:
And this is not Trump wearing a pair of balloons as mock breasts:
Perhaps the most unflattering, most crude, and consequently most viral image of President Donald Trump purportedly shows him soiling his pants on a golf course. This image was featured in at least one fake news article giving a fictional account of the incident, lending it undeserved credence.
Of course, it was just another doctored photograph based on a real image of Trump golfing (but in pants that remained unsoiled):
Not all of the fake photographs of Trump were unflattering. In fact, some painted him in a heroic light. During Hurricane Harvey, for example, an image appeared showing the president personally rescuing people and animals from flooding.
But alas, the images did not actually show President Donald Trump decked out in a “Make America Great Again” hat while carrying two cats to safety:
Nor is this Trump rescuing people from a raft:
Digital editing software isn’t the only way to create hoax photographs. If you have the resources, you can also hire actors to impersonate the president. Photographer Alison Jackson is well known for using lookalikes to stage photographs depicting celebrities in embarrassing situations.
Although her work targets a wide-range of celebrities and politicians, Donald Trump has been featured in a number of her pieces, such as this image purportedly showing Trump getting a spray tan in the oval office:
Jackson also used an actor to stage a photograph of the president at a Ku Klux Klan rally:
Jimmy Kimmel used a similar technique for a segment spoofing President Trump’s meeting with the Pope. Although this was an obvious fake when it was aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the clip fooled many viewers when it was edited down to just a few brief moments and shared along with a fake CNN logo:
The rest of the immediate Trump family did not get through 2017 unscathed; for example, three of his children (Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump) were also featured in a few fake images.
An oddly grotesque photograph of Trump’s two sons went viral in June 2017, thanks in part to some subtle (yet effective) editing that convinced many viewers that the image was real. When compared with the genuine photograph, however, it is clear that several edits were made to the photograph. For instance, Donald Trump, Jr.’s upper lip was enlarged, his bottom teeth were hidden, his right eye was moved off-center, and his left ear was lowered. Eric Trump’s eyes were made more wide-set and some extra fat was added to his neck.
Here’s the fake image (left) and the real image (right):
Ivanka Trump also received the fake photograph treatment. Instead of exaggerating her features into ugly proportions, however, hoaxers took a different tactic of showing her cuddling with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Of course, Putin was not the man in the middle in the original photograph; the real image showed Ivanka Trump with Wendi Murdoch and film director Baz Luhrmann:
In conclusion: Don’t believe anything without corroborating evidence, even when the proof appears to be right in front of your eyes.