Reporters Scramble to Fact-Check Meme of Trump Giving Dog a Medal

October 31, 2019 Updated: October 31, 2019

Reporters scrambled on Oct. 30 to fact check a meme showing President Donald Trump giving the dog who helped take down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a medal.

Trump shared the meme on Twitter. It shows the president putting a medal on Conan, the dog.

There is a large watermark on the meme showing it came from the Daily Wire, a news website founded by political commentator Ben Shapiro, and the medal is of a pawprint, both strong indications it was a meme.

But reporters wrote entire stories about the image, with some expressing frustration that the president had shared it.

“I’ve requested details from the @WhiteHouse on this photo. There was no such canine event on today’s @POTUS schedule but there is a Medal of Honor ceremony set here for later today for an active duty Green Beret,” Voice of America reporter Steve Herman said on Twitter.

“Why the terrible photoshop on top of everything else? WHY?” wrote CNN journalist Anushay Hossain.

“Just the president of the United States disseminating a doctored image created by a right-wing propaganda site,” wrote HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Date.

Two reporters for the New York Times were assigned a piece on the issue, writing that Trump shared a “faked photo of hero dog getting a medal.”

President Donald Trump bestows the nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, to retired Army medic James McCloughan during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington on July 31, 2017. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
In this photo provided by the White House via the Twitter account of President Donald Trump after it was declassified by Trump, a photo of the military working dog that was injured tracking down Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a tunnel beneath his compound in Syria. (White House via AP)

The picture was originally taken in 2017 as Trump awarded a Medal of Honor to James McCloughan, a retired Army medic who saved the lives of at least 10 others during the Vietnam War.

McCloughan, 73, told the paper that he laughed when he saw the meme compared to his own photograph. He was not offended and said the dog was heroic.

“This recognizes the dog is part of that team of brave people,” he said. “They are very courageous,” he added about military dogs.

Other reporters wondered about their colleagues spending time fact-checking or getting upset about Trump sharing the meme.

“I genuinely can’t believe journalists are fact-checking a photoshopped dog-getting-a-medal image that has a logo from @benshapiro’s website on it … and holding the White House responsible as though it was intended to falsely portray a real event. You’re not helping, guys,” Daily Mail reporter David Martasko wrote.

“This dog thing has been useful for figuring out whose brains have been melted by Trump,” New York magazine columnist Josh Barro added.

Trump later Wednesday wrote: “Thank you Daily Wire. Very cute recreation, but the ‘live’ version of Conan will be leaving the Middle East for the White House sometime next week!”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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