The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

No, the White House didn’t Photoshop an image of the president’s hand

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This article has been updated.

Dana Schwartz, a writer for the New York Observer, claimed to have noticed something interesting about one of the photos displayed during President Trump’s interview with ABC News that aired this week. The picture, which hangs near a staircase in the White House, had been altered, she thought — to make Trump’s hand appear larger.

Others chipped in their expertise to show a comparison between the two.

The idea quickly took off on social media.

Unfortunately, though, the idea doesn’t hold up.

If you watch the interview itself, you will quickly realize that you’re never actually shown the photo that’s hanging on the wall. As is often the case with televised depictions of still images, a full-resolution version of the photo — taken by Jack Gruber and distributed by Getty Images — has been slotted into the program. This is not a camera shot of a photo on the wall; it’s the actual photo, inserted into the video feed to show what ABC’s David Muir and Trump were discussing.

Here’s that image, by itself, captured from my computer.

We can compare that to the image that’s currently available on Getty’s website.

I, too, can make animated GIFs to contrast the images. And, aside from a slight misalignment (that’s my imprecision), you can see that the hand remains the exact same size.

Which: Of course it is! It’s the same image! The Getty photo is the one that ABC broadcast, pretty clearly.

Granted, because ABC did not show the actual image hanging on the wall, it’s theoretically possible that the one on the wall was Photoshopped to make Trump’s hand bigger. Or maybe to add a cat sitting on the helicopter or to change Obama’s coat to be houndstooth. We don’t know, because that’s not what ABC showed in its broadcast — and Schwartz’s original tweet is considering the broadcast image, not the one on the wall. (You can see ABCs chyron at the bottom.) Update: Schwartz has deleted her tweets. We’ve replaced them with screenshots.

Why did this gain so much attention online? Because opponents of Trump — which Schwartz is, having gained notoriety last summer for writing a public anti-Trump letter to then-Observer-owner Jared Kushner — seize upon any example of Trump being vain.

In this case, at least, there is no indication that he was — save having a dozen photos of his own inauguration hanging in his house.

Update: It appears that some of the confusion may have stemmed from a Photoshopped version of the ABC still. Andy Baio compared the image that was being shared with the original from ABC News.