After a resurgence in online interest in an ridiculous conspiracy theory that First Lady Melania Trump uses a body double, President Donald Trump blamed “deranged” media outlets for their role.
“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,” he tweeted on Wednesday — make a typically bold claim with a typical lack of evidence.
“They are only getting more deranged with time!” the president wrote. (Fox & Friends, a favorite morning program for him, discussed the topic on Wednesday morning, per the Associated Press, apparently prompting his tweet.)
The conspiracy theory about the first lady, better known as #FakeMelania, dates back to 2017, according to Vox. That’s when a Twitter user posted a clip of Mrs. Trump next to the president speaking to reporters. The user claimed, “This is not Melania. To think they would go this far & try & make us think its her on TV is mind blowing.”
The belief — ridiculous on its face — was soon officially deemed so.
“Once again, we find ourselves consumed with a ridiculous non-story when we could be talking about the work the first lady is doing on behalf of children, including the opioid crisis that is gripping our nation,” Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN in 2017.
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#FakeMelania resurfaced online earlier this month after the president visited Alabama in the wake of a deadly tornado there.
Many social media users focused on a single photo of the Trumps in mourning in fron of white crosses in Alabama.
The president appeared to reference this with his Wednesday tweet claiming photos of the first lady were manipulated by the media.
The panel on The View discussed the conspiracy theory on Monday.
Afterward, Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman tweeted that she and the president “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.”
The president has his own history of peddling outrageous theories, including enhancing his national political profile with frequent allegations that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.