Trump accuses media of editing photos of first lady to stoke ‘Fake Melania’ conspiracy theory – By Caitlin Oprysko (Politico) / March 13 2019
President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused “deranged” media outlets of digitally editing pictures of first lady Melania Trump and fanning the flames of conspiracy theories that the first lady employed a body double last week on the couple’s trip to survey tornado damage in Alabama.
The unfounded “Fake Melania” theory, which purports that the first lady uses a stand-in to appear at certain events alongside the president, resurfaced on Twitter this week following the Trumps’ trip to Alabama and was further amplified when the panel on ABC’s “The View” devoted a segment to discussing the theory.
“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,” Trump claimed Wednesday in a tweet. “They are only getting more deranged with time!”
The president offered no evidence to support his claim that members of the media had intentionally photoshopped images of the first lady in order to stir controversy — a move that would amount to a major ethical breach on the part of a press outlet.
Twitter users in recent days have posted side-by-side photos and videos of the first lady from last weekend’s trip, during which the couple visited survivors and paid their respects to the nearly two dozen victims of a massive tornado a week earlier, scrutinizing Melania’s body language, height and facial structure that allegedly supported the body double theory.
The “View” segment prompted a response from the first lady’s spokeswoman, who on Monday called it “shameful” that the hosts of the daytime talk show, which include the daughter of Trump’s ambassador to Russia, chose to “laugh in the face of tragedy” in regards to the couple’s trip.
The notion that Trump would use a stand-in for his wife has cropped up occasionally in conspiracy-minded corners of the internet during his tenure in the White House, fueled by rampant speculation about the couple’s personal lives and accusations of infidelity on the part of the president.
Last summer, conspiracy theories brewed when the first lady underwent a medical procedure and was not seen in public for nearly a month, which Trump, long a fan of promoting baseless conspiracy theories, denounced at the time.