by WorldTribune Staff, June 4, 2020
Several Democrats in social media posts falsely implied that President Donald Trump had turned off the lights in the White House as protesters gathered at nearby Lafayette Park.
New Jersey Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell on June 1 shared an image of a darkened White House, claiming that Trump turned off the lights as the Secret Service escorted him to a basement bunker amid the protests.
Pascrell tweeted: “As our nation burned in anger, pain, and frustration this weekend, trump agitated for violence against protestors and then hid in a bunker and literally turned out the White House lights. There may be no better symbol of the worst executive leadership in the world.”
The Associated Press, in a fact-check, said the photo Pascrell shared on Twitter was taken in 2015.
“An image shared thousands of times online that appears to show all the lights out in and around the White House was taken before Trump even assumed office,” the AP said in a June 2 report.
“The viral photo, which has been edited, can be found on Getty Image’s stock website, where it was uploaded in December 2015. In the original, the lantern hanging in the White House portico is lit, along with several lights that surround the fountain in the front lawn. The edited version that is being widely shared online has been darkened, and manipulated to remove the lit lantern.”
Pascrell’s tweet remains up and has not been fact-checked by Twitter.
David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, also shared the photo in a tweet on Monday. “Perfect symbolism. If ever the country needed the occupant of the White House to shed light, and not heat, now is the time. Sadly, the lights are out.”
Several reporters have since noted that most of the White House exterior lights turn off late at night.
“Elections matter,” Hillary Clinton said in a Monday tweet in which she shared the bogus photo alongside and image of the White House illuminated in rainbow colors after a 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.
Clinton’s tweet cited Christian Christensen, a professor of journalism studies at Stockholm University, as the source of the photo. Christensen has since deleted his tweet with the original edited photo and shared a Reuters photo that showed the White House at night with most lights off, with some lights on lower levels showing.
“I posted a picture of the White House ‘going dark’ that appears to have been shopped. Apologies, and deleted. Doesn’t change fact that it happened. So, here’s a Reuters photo,” Christensen said in a Monday tweet.
Responses to Christensen’s new “going dark” tweet included:
“As it does commonly at night.. what was the point of the gaslighting..?”
“My house goes dark at night, too. So what?”