A fake image of Putin pulling Obama's tie is circulating online

A fake image of Putin pulling Obama's tie is circulating online

And a syndicated radio show shared it as if it were real

Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

A digitally manipulated image that appears to depict Russian President Vladimir Putin pulling former President Barack Obama close to him by tugging on his tie is circulating online, mainly to support claims that President Donald Trump is a stronger president than Obama. A syndicated radio show has also pushed the image as real.

On July 15 and 16, Trump met with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. During the summit, the two held a press conference in which Trump, as The New York Times noted, “publicly challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election,” “saved his sharpest criticism for the United States and the special counsel investigation into the election interference,” and “even questioned the determinations by his intelligence officials that Russia had meddled in the election.” Trump has drawn widespread criticism for his remarks and has claimed that he misspoke.

Right before the summit and since then, figures on social media have spread an image that appears to depict Putin pulling Obama’s tie to draw him closer as they talked, with many suggesting the photo showed that Obama was weaker against Russia than Trump. As Snopes noted, the image is a manipulation of a photo of Obama with Putin in June 2014, in which Obama is just leaning in and speaking closely with Putin.

Nonetheless, users on Twitter have tweeted the image, some specifically in response to criticism and critical coverage of Trump, with users writing that it shows Putin “led [Obama] around by his tie like a little bitch” and that Obama was a “spineless” “cuckold,” with one account writing, “Look how close Putin and Obama are. See Putin pulling on Obama's tie. If anyone thinks Trump is in collusion, Look at this pic.” The image has also been tweeted at Trump directly. One Twitter user, whom Trump has previously retweeted, shared the image on Twitter and wrote: “I'll tell you what you won't see at the Trump-Putin summit, is this. Obama held the most powerful position on the planet, yet was either directly man handled, or bowed down to world leaders, due to weakness. Either way, @realDonaldTrump will not get treated like this.”

“New-right” proponent Mike Tokes, who recently appeared on white supremacist Baked Alaska's YouTube channel with white nationalist Richard Spencer, also shared the image.

Users on 4chan’s far-right “politically incorrect” forum (commonly referred to as /pol/) also shared the fake image in response to criticism of Trump, with one user writing, “Here is what Putin thought of Obama's Stare Down.”

The image has also been shared on Facebook and on multiple subreddits, where a user claimed the photo showed Obama was a “f'ing pussy.”

The fake image has since made its way to radio, which has become one of the main avenues for fake news to spread beyond the internet. On the syndicated radio show Walton & Johnson, the hosts said there was “the picture of Putin where he’s got hold of Obama’s tie and he’s pulling him down” like he was “leading a dog around.” The hosts added that the photo helped rebut claims that “because Trump was friendly with Putin,” “he’s gone over” and “become pure communist now.”

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