Photo: Getty Images / Image composed by the VICE team
In mid-May, President Donald Trump spent more than 20 minutes standing in the White House Rose Garden, squinting in the midday sun as he talked about his plan to overhaul the country’s current immigration system. . One of his repeated talking points was the suggestion that immigrants come to the United States and steal Americans’ jobs. “Unfortunately, current immigration rules allow foreign workers to substitute for Americans seeking entry-level employment,” he said. “So the foreign workers come in and they take the jobs that would normally go to American workers.”
Ignoring the fact that immigrants “actually help increase overall hiring for the American economy”, as the Associated Press put it, Trump’s own re-election campaign has now been exposed for using photos of Turkish archives of a bearded hipster and a Japanese cafe instead of, you know, finding real americans appear in its Facebook ads.
The Trump Make America Great Again Committee ran a series of short Facebook ads, including one that features a smiling, suspender-wearing 20-something who is identified as Thomas from Washington. “President Trump, his family and the administration are in our prayers for the strength and wisdom of Almighty God,” said a voice believed to belong to Thomas. “God protects you.”
But as journalist Judd Legum pointed out in a Twitter thread, Thomas is not a barista from Washington: he is a man who was selected from a photo site, whose photos are listed under the keywords ” Bearded, tattooed hipster cafe owner. On top of that, the AP discovered that the “Thomas” videos were submitted by a production company called GM Stock, based in Izmir, Turkey. (WHAT?! YOU WISH THOMAS COULD BE A FOREIGN WORKER !??!!!!) Business Insider also found Thomas’ supposed cafe in Getty Images’ iStock video library – and it’s actually the exterior of what appears to be a watch repair joint in Tokyo, Japan. .
“As a producer, you want to be in control — you want people to look a certain way and you want them to sound a certain way,” said former cable TV executive Jay. Newell at the AP. “The fact that the images are from outside the United States makes them even more embarrassing.”
It is also gloriously ironic that the text accompanying the advertisements calls the “constant stream of FAKE NEWS media lies”. (When Thomas first appears on camera, the words “Actual Testimony, Actor’s Representation” are visible in a small, easy-to-miss font in the lower left corner of the screen.) “My popularity is higher than ever,” the Facebook text continues – but if so, then why didn’t the campaign she couldn’t find a real American barista in a real An American cafe smiling placidly while that voiceover spoke of praying for the president?
In addition to “Thomas,” the Trump campaign has two other ads that feature stock footage of supposed real-life MAGA team members. The one that focuses on a young blonde woman identified as “Tracey from Florida” comes from a music video produced by a company called Tuto Photos, which has been labeled as “human face”, “un-American location” and “Mediterranean sea”. . (Tuto Photos’ French language website lists its address as Les Adrets de L’Esterel, France.)
And “AJ from Texas,” the supposed Democratic voter-turned-Trump, was also featured on a photo site; this time it’s a “portrait of a mature man” that was submitted to iStockphoto by studio Frazao based in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
So… what were you saying about fake news?