It took a while, but Donald Trump has finally found a conspiracy theory he doesn’t like. The president published this to Twitter yesterday:
“The Fake News photoshopped pictures of Melania, then propelled conspiracy theories that it’s actually not her by my side in Alabama and other places. They are only getting more deranged with time!”
At issue is a silly idea, which gained new prominence this week following a segment on ABC’s “The View,” which argues that Donald Trump has made public appearances with a woman who only appears to be Melania Trump. In other words, according to the conspiracy theory, the first lady has a body double – or perhaps more than one – who sometimes travels with the president.
There is no reason to take the conspiracy theory seriously, and I more or less assume that some of the folks who’ve peddled it are kidding. That said, Trump’s tweet on the subject struck me as notable for a couple of reasons.
The first is that he described the conspiracy theory the wrong way. News organizations are not manipulating photographs of the first lady – if the White House has evidence of media professionals doing this, I’m all ears (or in this case, eyes) – and if the president thinks pictures of his wife look like a different woman, he’s only going to make this whole foolish mess worse.
The second, however, is more important: since when is Donald Trump in a position to call others’ conspiracy theories “deranged”?
This president loves conspiracy theories. He believes Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii. He thinks climate change was a hoax concocted by the Chinese. He accused Ted Cruz’s father of being involved in JFK’s assassination. He still occasionally tells people he secretly won the popular vote.
I’m not suggesting the Melania-Trump/body-double silliness is any more believable than the nonsense her husband has peddled, but the larger point stands: maybe the president isn’t the best judge of which conspiracy theories should and shouldn’t be believed?