Meme Misrepresents Old Inauguration Photo

By Angelo Fichera

Posted on November 24, 2020

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Quick Take

A popular meme on Facebook falsely purports to show a photo of Joe “Biden’s Inaugural stage” being built outside the White House. The photo shows the reviewing stand for the inaugural parade at Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.


Full Story

A viral meme takes a dig at President Donald Trump and his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but it misrepresents an old photo to do so.

“If you think you are having a bad day just remember, Trump is watching Biden’s Inaugural stage being built on the White House North lawn,” the meme reads. An accompanying aerial photo shows the White House and a red circle drawn around the purported stage for Biden’s inauguration.

But a reverse image search shows the meme is using a photo from 1993 — not 2020. The meme has been posted by popular Facebook pages, such as Occupy Democrats and Opposition Report, and has been shared by thousands of users.

The stock photo website Alamy labels the same photo, “Aerial Photography, William J. Clinton Presidential Inauguration, aerial of White House.” And the Smithsonian Institution Archives documents that it was taken in 1993 by Carl Hansen.

Also, while the meme deems the structure shown an “Inaugural stage,” the image is actually showing that year’s reviewing stand, which is erected for every inauguration for the new president to watch the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, following the swearing-in ceremony.

National Park Service spokeswoman Katie Liming told us in an email that construction of the reviewing stand and media riser has begun for the Jan. 20 inauguration. So, the meme is not entirely wrong.

The actual swearing-in ceremony takes place at the U.S. Capitol. Work on the inaugural platform outside the Capitol is also underway, as photos from the Washington Post show.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.

Sources

Aerial Photography, William J. Clinton Presidential Inauguration, aerial of White House.” Alamy. Accessed 23 Nov 2020.

Davis, Emily and Justin Jouvenal. “What will Inauguration Day look like amid a pandemic?” Washington Post. 19 Nov 2020.

Goode, James M. “Afternoon Accolades.” White House Historical Association. Accessed 23 Nov 2020.

Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.” Architect of the Capitol. Accessed 23 Nov 2020.

Liming, Katie. Spokeswoman, National Park Service. Email to FactCheck.org. 24 Nov 2020.

President Clinton 1993 Inaugural Ceremony.” C-SPAN. 20 Jan 1993.

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