Just over a week ago on Inauguration Day, after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, USA TODAY photographer Jack Gruber was assigned a pool position on the east steps of the US Capitol to document former President Obama’s final departure on Executive One. With a telephoto in hand, he captured a standard shot of newly elected President Trump embracing and shaking hands with outgoing President Obama seconds before boarding the helicopter.
A week later the photo went viral after New York Observer Arts & Culture writer Dana Schwartz tweeted out a screenshot of what she believed was a doctored image she saw hanging in the background of an ABC News interview with President Trump in the White House. She insisted, without confirming, in her now deleted tweet, that the photo was manipulated to make President Trump’s hands appear larger than they were.
The photos below are the original jpegs from Gruber’s assignment showing the entire sequence in question. The images confirm the White House photo in question was not manipulated as suggested by Dana Schwartz and subsequently the entire internet. You can download and view the original photo in RAW format here.
Jack Gruber is a veteran photojournalist who has shot numerous political campaigns, made dozens of trips to war zones documenting conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan, and 9 Olympic Games. Never has a photo of his garnered so much attention for such a ridiculous reason.
I’m amazed and bewildered that no one ever contacted me, the person who created the image, when this could have been easily verified and debunked. I’ve never had a photo go viral for such a petty reason before and it seems to be happening more and more to fellow colleagues of mine in the photo industry, especially during this recent election cycle. Ethically we are very strict about how we report the news, especially on social media. While this episode didn’t have a negative affect on me personally, it does give a black eye to the state of journalism when reporters are tweeting out unverified accusations, even if only on their personal accounts. – Jack Gruber