This Grotesque Viral Photo of President Trump Is Actually Fake

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Illustration for article titled This Grotesque Viral Photo of President Trump Is Actually Fake

Image: Vic Berger IV edit of an Associated Press photo (AP)

A particularly disturbing photo of President Donald Trump has been making the rounds on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit recently. But is the image authentic? No, the photo is totally fake. But it’s close enough to the very real (and quite grotesque) look of the president that people could be forgiven for thinking it’s an untouched photo.

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The fake image was created by Vic Berger IV, a viral video and image creator who previously worked at Super Deluxe and more recently has been working with comedians Tim & Eric.

The original photo was taken by Associated Press photographer Evan Vucci in Minneapolis on October 10, 2019, at one of Trump’s neo-fascist rallies.

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President Donald Trump in Minneapolis in an untouched photo from October 10, 2019

President Donald Trump in Minneapolis in an untouched photo from October 10, 2019Photo: Evan Vucci (AP)

“LIKE and SHARE IF YOU AGREE. No madder what, He is OUR Prez, weather or not you like it or not!! #WWG1WGA @realDonaldTrump #maga #KAG2020 #QAnons #jfkjr” Berger wrote on his Facebook page, poking fun at the spelling errors and conspiratorial thinking so typical of Trump supporters.

That hashtag, WWG1WGA, is a reference to the so-called QAnon movement—an online conspiracy theory cult that believes President Trump is mobilizing the forces of good against child sex traffickers in the U.S. government. WWG1WGA, which stands for “where we go one we go all,” is QAnon’s slogan.

The idea that Trump, of all people, would be against sexual assault, is absurd, to say the least.

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Illustration for article titled This Grotesque Viral Photo of President Trump Is Actually Fake

Image: Associated Press/Vic Berger IV (AP)

As you can see, Berger flipped the original AP image horizontally, added some red flushes to Trump’s face, beefed out his jowls just a touch, and flipped the American flag pin on Trump’s jacket upside down. Berger also inserted some extraneous hairs on Trump’s head and eyebrows.

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What hairs, you might ask? Computer, enhance.

Illustration for article titled This Grotesque Viral Photo of President Trump Is Actually Fake

Image: Vic Berger (AP)

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The genius of Berger’s political photoshops is that he often makes Trump look even more disgusting than he does in real life, but it’s also close enough to Trump’s actual appearance that thousands of people can find themselves questioning whether it’s an unaltered photo.

Another photo alteration by Berger went viral in April of 2018 showing a very lumpy President Trump. People were similarly confused about whether the image was real or not, given Trump’s oddly fitting clothes and bizarre way of standing. When reached for comment via Twitter DM, Berger had some more fun with Trump’s appearance.

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“Yes, it’s true I did use photoshop on that image of Mr. Trump, but only to adjust the levels a bit and remove blemishes. He had about 5 or 6 inflamed, pus-filled whiteheads around his lips that I covered up digitally,” Berger told Gizmodo.

The Trump campaign was previously caught red-handed back in January of 2019 photoshopping images of the president on Instagram and Facebook to make him appear thinner. The campaign also made him look like he had longer fingers, something that’s been an odd point of personal insecurity for decades.

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Trump, of course, isn’t just gross on the outside. More importantly, he’s an ugly human being on the inside—a man who constantly spouts white supremacist nonsense while belittling international emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has the worst outbreak in the world, with over 2.8 million cases and more than 129,000 deaths, and Trump’s strategy has been largely an effort to pretend like covid-19 doesn’t exist and that millions of people aren’t currently getting sick.

As the Washington Post reported just this morning:

The goal is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year and the economy will continue to improve.

White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.

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So there you have it. The photo is fake, but Trump’s unspeakable ugliness, both inside and out, couldn’t be more real.

Update, 3:50 p.m. ET: Updated with comment from Vic Berger IV.

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