The first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol was commemorated by lawmakers and President Joe Biden on Capitol Hill with speeches, press conferences and an evening vigil. Even previous leaders, like former President Barack Obama, publicly spoke about the somber remembrance day.
But the words of one central actor were never heard. Former President Donald Trump had scheduled a press conference on Jan. 6 but canceled it two days before.
Now, an apparent official statement from his website is making the rounds online, asserting he canceled the press conference due to family celebrations.
“I canceled because my son Donald paid me to rent the venue to plan his wedding,” reads part of the statement, posted on Instagram Jan. 5.
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The screengrab, which is styled to match other statements published on Trump’s website, received more than 1,000 likes in two days. On Facebook, other versions of the screenshot received more than 800 reactions in just a few days.
Trump’s website is the primary way he releases statements since he was banned from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a year ago. So the statements typically spread online as users screenshot them and share them to their individual social media accounts.
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His statements have previously been altered to attribute false messages to Trump, and this is another example of that. The image being shared now was digitally created as a parody by a comedian on Twitter.
USA TODAY reached out to the poster for comment.
The first instance of the statement being shared online was a Jan. 4 tweet by Gabe Sanchez, a comedian who shares satire, according to his bio.
“I guess we now know why Trump canceled himself, I mean, his January 6th conference,” Sanchez wrote in the tweet accompanying the image.
When a user replied to the tweet claiming the image was fake, Sanchez responded saying the statement was “a parody presser that I made.”
Liz Harrington, Trump’s spokesperson, confirmed to USA TODAY the statement was fabricated.
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In an official statement posted on Trump’s website, Trump announced he was canceling the press conference, set to take place at Mar-a-Lago, due to the “total bias and dishonesty” of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. He didn’t elaborate.
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While some of Sanchez’s followers acknowledged the image was a joke in the comments, many other users on Facebook and Instagram believed the image to be real given the similarities to Trump’s authentic statements.
One user who shared the image on Facebook wrote in the post’s caption: “You can’t make this stuff up.”
This is an example of what could be called “stolen satire,” where stories or images created as satire and presented that way originally are captured via screenshot and reposted in a way that makes them appear to be legitimate. As a result, readers of the second-generation post are misled, as was the case here.
We rate ALTERED an image purporting to show Donald Trump canceled a Jan. 6 press conference due to his son’s wedding at Mar-a-Lago, based on our research. The image was created by a comedian as a parody. In a real statement, Trump blamed the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for the cancellation of his press conference.
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