March 20, 2019
Trump Tweet Beat: Trump Quashes Conspiracy Theory about Melania

By Luis Arellano

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any stranger, President Trump took to Twitter to debunk a bizarre conspiracy theory that a body double of First Lady Melania Trump was standing in for the first lady at state events. The accusations, which Joy Behar helped spread on the television show “The View,” are part of an ongoing effort to portray the first marriage as on the rocks.

The Tweet

The Fake News photoshopped pictures of Melania, then propelled conspiracy theories that it’s actually not her by my side in Alabama and other places. They are only getting more deranged with time!

What It Means

Anti-Trump propaganda takes a thousand forms. One variety – pushed not just by obscure websites but leading cable channels and news outlets such as the Washington Post – is that Melania Trump dislikes her husband. So the anti-Trump Twittersphere went into a tizzy last week when it photos of the first couple at an Alabama event seemed off to them.

There is, of course, zero evidence to support this claim. Trump says the photographs were photoshopped by his enemies. But that didn’t stop Joy Behar from telling her viewers, “Some people think the first lady is using an impostor to stand in for her. You mean there are two women who have to pretend they’re listening to (President Trump)?” And the president, gave the claim even wider currency through his Tweet, giving news outlets including USA Today and the Associated Press a reason to cover the story. This, in turn, fueled more speculation about her well-being and that of her marriage to President Trump.

Body doubles have historically used by political figures who fear an assassination attempt. Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein are both believed to have used several. The most prominent U.S. political figure to actually use a political decoy was U.S. President Harry Truman who used a voice actor to lobby for American interests at the United Nations in phone calls.

Why It’s Important:

This story taps into growing concerns about fake news and the ability of people to digitally alter images. In 2008, while running for President Hillary Clinton team circulated a picture of then Senator Barrak Obama in Kenya in traditional Somali attire imply he was not sufficiently American.

According to leaked strategy documents the Clinton campaign deliberately attempted to suggest Obama was not sufficiently American to be president.

Ironically, the strategy was later picked up by President Trump during his own rise to national prominence and eventually the presidency. However, this time President Trump is the target of a conspiracy theory which operates as a political smear. In the run-up to 2020, political watchers fear we may see more of this.

What People Are Saying

The First Lady’s Spokesperson has responded directly and forcefully to the allegations against her in a Tweet.
[email protected] & @potus traveled to Alabama to pay their respects & comfort victims of the tornado devastation. In typical fashion, @theview chooses to laugh in the face of tragedy. Shameful.

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