Shelby Talcott on October 31, 2019
Multiple outlets wrote up that President Donald Trump shared a photoshopped picture of the hero dog who helped take down Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, with some referring to the meme as being “doctored.”
Trump tweeted a meme Wednesday allegedly originating from The Daily Wire, a conservative outlet, that showed the president giving “Conan” the hero dog a Medal of Honor. The original photo was from retired Army medic James C. McCloughan’s 2017 Medal of Honor ceremony. Outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post wrote up the news, highlighting the fact that a dog replaced an actual Medal of Honor winner.
AMERICAN HERO! pic.twitter.com/XCCa2sGfsZ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2019
The NYT originally reported that the president had shared a “doctored photo,” adding that the actual recipient, who “had saved the lives of 10 men in Vietnam,” was replaced with the dog. The article was later updated with comments from McCloughan, who said he saw the tweet as a way for Trump to commend the dog. McCloughan wasn’t insulted, The NYT added, and the publication changed its language from “doctored photo” to “joke.”
The Washington Post headlined its article to highlight the dog replacing McCloughan as well. “Trump tweeted a photo of a Medal of Honor recipient — who was edited out and replaced by Conan the dog,” the headline reads. WaPo’s article began by mentioning McCloughan’s “somber” 2017 ceremony.
“He [McCloughan] was credited with saving the lives of 10 men in a brutal, days-long battle in Vietnam, and Trump told the former Army medic that ‘we are in awe of your actions and your bravery,’” WaPo’s article reads. “On Wednesday, Trump posted a photo of that moment with McCloughan’s image replaced by that of a dog.”
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The outlet continued on to suggest Trump and staffers might not have known the photo had edited McCloughan out.
Another outlet that hit back at Trump for his decision to post “a doctored photo” was HuffPost. Reporter David Moye wrote that Trump’s tweet sharing the meme got “dogged by accusations that the pic is the very definition of fake news.”
“HuffPost reached out to the White House for comment on the decision to post a doctored photo, but no one immediately responded,” the outlet added. HuffPost noted that McCloughan was okay with being edited out of the picture, as did The NYT.
Steve Herman, Voice of America’s White House bureau chief, went so far as to fact-check the image. He tweeted Wednesday that he had “requested details from the @White House” on the photo because there was “no such canine event” on the president’s schedule.
Herman added in a separate tweet later on Wednesday that the tweet was, in fact, photoshopped.
“I can tell you that numerous people from around the world subsequently contacted me and others to say they believed the photoshopped picture was real or were not sure and appreciated journalists scrutinizing it,” Herman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The dog helped take down the ISIS leader during a two-hour-long raid on his northern Syrian compound Saturday evening. Al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children.
The New York Times, The Washington Post, and HuffPost did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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