In the era of “fake news,” social media conspiracy theorists have cooked up their own alternative reality with a crazy idea that a first lady impostor recently appeared as Melania Trump at the president’s side.
The Twitter storm took off after President Donald Trump spoke to reporters last Friday on the White House lawn. He casually made mention of “my wife, Melania, who happens to be right here.”
The comment seemed so oddly obvious that it made some tweeters suspicious. The theory that the woman was not actually the first lady tore up social media until it was debunked by several media outlets.
The Washington Post, which analyzed photos of the scene (including one after Trump removed her large dark glasses), quipped in a headline: “We’ve ID’d the mystery woman in those Melania-Trump-impostor rumors. (It’s Melania Trump.)”
Actress Andrea Wagner Barton was one of the first on Facebook to raise the possibility of a “decoy.” Commenters noted different lip color and different hair highlights.
And Joe Vargas — whose Twitter profile describes him as cannabis entrepreneur who sells hemp syrup — tweeted that he was absolutely convinced it was not the first lady standing at Trump’s side.
The rumors were helped along by the fact that Melania Trump has a female Secret Service shadow who looks a bit like her.
Columnist Marina Hyde of The Guardian also wanted to get in on the action, claiming in a tongue-in-cheek manner that the body double story is “fake news I can get behind.” She jokingly quipped on Twitter last Friday that the first lady had perhaps left Trump.
The White House quickly shot down the rumors.
“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,” the first lady’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN.
Vanity Fair called the Melania Trump chatter a “bizarre theory for a bizarre world.”
Impostor theories have popped up before. Last year, during the presidential campaign, some people insisted online that a body double was filling in for Hillary Clinton after she quickly bounced back from a bout of pneumonia.