If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then Pete Souza posted 1,002 on his Instagram account Tuesday.
“Holding hands,” wrote Souza, the former official White House photographer under President Barack Obama.
Above it was an image of Obama clasping the left hand of former first lady Michelle Obama, as the two listened to a speech in Selma.
But the succinct caption belied what many of the more than 1.3 million followers of Souza's Instagram feed have surmised over the last several months: That the post must have been a reference to something President Trump had just done. Or not done.
Sure enough, Souza's throwback photo followed a pair of viral video clips in which first lady Melania Trump appeared to swat away her husband's hand — or at least show no interest in holding it — during their trip to the Middle East.
In the first, Melania Trump seems to rebuff President Trump's outstretched hand as they walk along a red carpet just after their arrival in Tel Aviv on Monday. Beside them, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held hands with his wife, Sara.
A day later, a second video clip showed Melania Trump appearing to avoid her husband's hand again, this time shortly after they landed in Rome.
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) May 23, 2017
It's unclear if the first lady was intentionally pulling away from President Trump. As The Washington Post's Emily Heil wrote of the first video, “upon close inspection of the footage, perhaps she just missed grabbing his outstretched hand, like a trapeze artist flubbing the catch.”
Nevertheless, the instances did not go unnoticed — least of all by Souza. By now, it's a foregone conclusion that Souza has been silently trolling the Trump administration using his Instagram feed, and Tuesday's posted image of the Obamas' closeness only fueled that theory.
“Master of classy shade,” one Instagram user commented on Souza's post.
“You troll terrifically,” another wrote.
Most recently, after the New York Times reported that former FBI director James B. Comey once sought to avoid President Trump at a White House gathering by attempting to blend in with the drapes, Souza posted an old photo of Obama in the same room. In the caption, without naming Comey, he mused what it would be like for “someone six inches taller” to try to hide behind the curtains.
In March, about a week after news broke of WikiLeaks exposing a purported trove of CIA hacking tools, Souza posted an image that appeared to poke fun at Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway's suggestion that there were “microwaves that turn into cameras.”
The doctored photo showed a tiny President Obama appearing to take a picture from the inside of a microwave.
In a few cases, Souza has addressed the Trump administration and its policies more directly. On March 12, Souza posted a picture of the day the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010 with an uncharacteristically long caption.
“Wonder why some are pushing a repeal/replace law that will cause 15 million people to lose coverage, increase costs for lower income and elderly people, and give billions of tax benefits to the wealthiest?” he wrote, alluding to the upcoming congressional vote on the Republicans' American Health Care Act, which sought to do away with “Obamacare.”
Remembering that day when the Affordable Care Act (yes, "Obamacare") was signed into law in 2010. Wonder why some are pushing a repeal/replace law that will cause 15 million people to lose coverage, increase costs for lower income and elderly people, and give billions of tax benefits to the wealthiest? Maybe that is really the BFD.
Most of the time, however, Souza needs only a few words to get his message across, as The Post's Avi Selk reported:
“Merrick Garland. Just saying,” the photographer wrote beside a photo of Obama’s failed Supreme Court nominee, whom Congress members refused to give a hearing before Trump took office and selected his own judge.
Sometimes, Souza didn’t need to write a thing. Like when he posted photos of Obama palling around with the leaders of Mexico and Australia — after details leaked of Trump reportedly belittling both men on the phone.
As if taking subtle digs at the current president using photos of a past president weren't enough, Souza this week escaped into a parallel life by spending a day photographing the actor Kevin Spacey, who plays the President of the United States in "House of Cards," around Washington. It's unclear if any of those, too, were meant to troll Trump.
In a photo Monday of "President Underwood" standing in front of the real-life White House, Souza simply wrote: "The people's president."