Donald Trump is a man known for dabbling in, and in some cases diving headfirst into, conspiracy theories. His political career really began with his spreading of the racist lie that our first black president wasn’t born in the United States and as such wasn’t eligible to hold his office. Now, he’s found himself on the receiving end of a conspiracy theory, and he isn’t exactly pleased about it.
This morning, Trump took to Twitter and claimed that the “Fake News” is spreading “photoshopped” pictures of First Lady Melania Trump in order to stoke rumors that it wasn’t really her who accompanied him to Alabama to visit the tornado survivors last week and was, in fact, a body double intended to look like his wife.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2019
The “Fake Melania” theory has been a popular one on Twitter for some time, and it postulates that sometimes Melania refuses or is unable to travel with the president. During those times, a woman with a similar physical appearance dons glasses to obscure her face and follows Donald Trump around.
The conspiracy theory dates back to 2017 when a clip of Melania with her husband went viral. In it, she stands silently by his side, her face mostly in shadows as President Trump rambles on. To many people, it didn’t look like Melania Trump, and the theory was only emboldened by Trump’s strange decision to say “My wife Melania, who happens to be right here…” as if trying to convince everyone that it was really her.
This is not Melania. To think they would go this far & try & make us think its her on TV is mind blowing. Makes me wonder what else is a lie pic.twitter.com/JhPVmXdGit
— BuyLegalMeds.com (@JoeVargas) October 18, 2017
The theory popped up again this past Friday when a photo of Melania once again spread like wildfire on Twitter, with many users once again convinced that it looked like some woman other than the First Lady.
GUYS THAT IS NOT MELANIA pic.twitter.com/2kfo7QMU2x
— Red™️ (@Redpainter1) March 8, 2019
One user even compiled a semi-convincing comparison between the “Fake Melania” and a Secret Service agent with a similar face.
I found the fake melania pic.twitter.com/6PJhttQSyp
— lib bapper (@lib_crusher) March 8, 2019
Other Twitter users took the conspiracy theory less seriously and instead used it to make jokes and poke fun at the Trumps.
— GuillaumeTC (@GuillaumeTC) March 9, 2019
— ProjectBadass (@szabo_pete) March 9, 2019
— Blue Cap (@BlueCapFL) March 9, 2019
So popular was the theory that the hosts of The View actually discussed it at some length, with Joy Behar admitting that she herself didn’t think the latest photo looked like Melania.
FAKE MELANIA CONSPIRACIES RETURN: The internet is buzzing again with theories that first lady Melania Trump is using an imposter to stand in for her — the co-hosts investigate. https://t.co/f8u2wc159S pic.twitter.com/XNYBT9U6S8
— The View (@TheView) March 11, 2019
The explanations for why Trump would possibly use a body double of his wife instead of just having her come along with him vary, with some suggesting it’s simply because she can’t stand being around him more than is absolutely necessary.
In any case, the fact that something as absurd as this theory even seems plausible to some people demonstrates how little faith people have in Donald Trump. He’s so strange, so clearly dishonest, that Americans can imagine him pulling a stunt like this.
Trump, for his part, has now only made matters worse by trying to swat down this conspiracy theory with one of his own. The media didn’t “photoshop” these images and for him to suggest as much is almost as ridiculous as the body double theory itself. It’s especially pathetic of him to lie about it when the footage he already shared of his trip proves that it was Melania that went with him. The man simply can’t resist the urge to lie and attack the media.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2019