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That Creepy Photo of Mike Lindell at a Trump Rally Is Totally Fake

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Have you seen a photo of MyPillow CEO and big-time Trump backer Mike Lindell looking spaced out, with dark circles under his eyes? It’s gone viral on social media, racking up millions of views. But it’s not real. The photo might look oddly realistic, but it’s been altered significantly.

“Meeting Mike Lindell at the Waukesha Trump Rally must’ve been what it was like to shake hands with the Apostle Paul before Christ took the stage at the sermon on the mound,” an X account credited to someone named Gary Peterson tweeted.

Gary Peterson, operating under the handle @GaryPetersonUSA, appears to have been the first to post the photoshopped image. But it’s an account that frequently publishes altered images, often in a way that makes it difficult to distinguish from an authentic photo.

The tweet alone has over 6.3 million views and doesn’t include an annotation from Community Notes, the name for X’s crowdsourced fact-checking. But the image has spread far and wide, jumping to various social media services like Facebook and Bluesky, as these things often do when they go viral.

Where is the image actually from? It appears the image was originally posted to X by Waukesha, Wisconsin’s The Devil’s Advocate Radio on May 1 and shows Lindell outside one of Donald Trump’s neo-fascist rallies.

As you can see, the image doesn’t include Lindell with mussed-up hair and heavy, dark circles under his eyes. Lindell also has a more normal smile as opposed to the bizarre gaze from the altered image.

The altered image of Mike Lindell (left) along with the original image of him at a Trump rally in Wisconsin on May 1, 2024.
Image: X

Eagle-eyed viewers may have also noticed something else odd about the photoshopped image. If you zoom in over Lindell’s left shoulder you can spot what appears to be a roaring bear. It’s not clear why the people who made this image included the bear, but it’s not in the original image.

Image for article titled That Creepy Photo of Mike Lindell at a Trump Rally Is Totally Fake

Image: @GaryPetersonUSA

This is far from the first time people have poked fun at Mike Lindell with fake images. Back in February, a video purporting to show Lindell “hammered” while driving a car was doing the rounds. In reality, the video used a green-screen technique to make it appear like the car was moving. The car was actually parked in the original video posted by Lindell.

Obviously, we can expect to see many more politically-themed fakes as we get closer to the U.S. presidential election in November. But most major media outlets seem laser-focused on generative AI and the ways that could influence people and swing voters. But this new fake featuring Lindell is a great reminder that old-fashioned photoshopping is still around. You don’t need fancy AI to make a convincing (if admittedly perplexing) fake image.




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