In Depth

‘Is there a fake Melania Trump?’: strange clip of First Lady goes viral

First Lady’s overcoat and sunglasses made many wonder what the White House was trying to hide

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump spoke to reporters on the White House lawn to defend his administration’s response to the emergency in Puerto Rico.

With wife Melania hovering wordlessly by his side, Trump insisted his government had done a “great job” at providing hurricane relief.

The clip passed mostly under the radar until last night, when some tweeters noticed that there was something a little bit… off about the First Lady.

In the traditional “incognito” uniform of buff overcoat and dark glasses, Melania’s conspicuously inconspicuous demeanour raised a few questions - namely, was there something the White House isn't telling us?

Thus began a frenzied, if (mostly) tongue-in-cheek investigation into the rapidly developing conspiracy theory:

The suspicion was compounded by the fact that the President used some very unusual language to refer to Melania.

Considering that multiple clips of Donald and Melania’s supposedly frosty interactions have already gone viral, some wondered if we were seeing evidence that the First Couple had finally reached a tipping point:

Thankfully, reason prevailed - courtesy of Larry the Cat, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office:

Myth-debunking website Snopes took the opportunity to look into the unusual case, and ruled that conspiracy theorists pedalling the rumour of a fake Melania “purposely used a blurry (and possibly distorted) video of Melania Trump in order to make this claim seem more plausible”.

Originally, when the rumour had first circulated online, it was accompanied by a video, captured by a Twitter user filming their own television screen with what appears to be a smartphone camera. 

The site points out that, when watching the actual raw footage of Trump's statement, available on CNN's website, the distortions of Melania's facial features and overall shape are absent, and she looks normal. As Snopes puts it: “This not evidence of a body double. It’s evidence of a poorly working television.”

Adding insult to injury, the site then doubles down by pointing to Getty Images and the Associated Press, both of which have plenty of photos of the Trumps at the same event as the CNN footage was filmed, which appear to confirm that it is her and not a body double.

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