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The Hoax Photo Archive — Photo Fakery Throughout History
Category: Politics
Romney Family Misspells Their Name. (Feb 2012) As Romney campaigned for the Presidency, this picture started to circulate online, accompanied by the caption: "Romney's family misspell their last name in the greatest Freudian slip in history." However, that's not Romney's family. It's actually the Fisher family, who got up on stage with him during a campaign stop in Elko, Nevada. They wore t-shirts that did correctly spell his name. The misspelling was the result of photo alteration. More…
The Cleavage Disappears. (2011) The woman shown above is Rathika Sitsabaiesan, a Canadian MP. The image on the left was her official parliamentary headshot. But in Sep 2011 a blogger noticed that although the image still appeared on the parliamentary website, it had been altered to the version on the right in which her cleavage had been digitally erased. It's not known who ordered the alteration. Sitsabaiesan has not commented on it. More…
Dati’s Disappearing Ring. (Nov 19, 2008) Photo editors at Le Figaro deleted a ring from the French justice minister's hand in order to make her appear less glamorous. More…
Kim Jong-Il’s Shadow. (November 2008) Western media questioned whether this image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il had been doctored, but it appears not to have been. More…
Sarah Palin in Bikini. (September 2008) After John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, provocative fake pictures of the Alaska Governor began to circulate online. More…
Barack Obama Smoking. (Circulating online since early 2008) Obama admits to being a smoker (trying to quit), but this picture of him smoking was faked. More…
Vote for Dean Hrbacek. (January 2008) In this flyer distributed by Hrbacek's campaign, the candidate's head was pasted onto the body of a significantly slimmer man. More…
Sarkozy’s Disappearing Love Handles. (August 2007) Paris Match was accused of pandering to French President Nicolas Sarkozy when it reduced the size of his love handles in this photo of him canoeing with his son. More…
The French Dinner. (July 2007) This fake picture caused a scandal in Malaysia because it appeared to link the country's deputy prime minister to the murder of a young woman. More…
Holiday Greetings, from Spain’s Royal Family. (December 2005) Unable to gather for a photo shoot, the Spanish royal family instead digitally assembled for its Christmas holiday photo. More…
“I can promise, this will never get done”. (Created in 2005. Circulating online since 2008.) Artist Alison Jackson uses lookalikes to create images of "celebrities ostensibly caught unawares." More…
Whatever It Takes. (October 2004) An ad released by Bush's 2004 presidential campaign showed a crowd scene from which the President had been digitally removed. More…
Hanoi John. (Circulating online since Feb 2004) Not only had Fonda not shared the stage with Kerry, she hadn’t even attended the rally shown here. More…
Trophy Turkey. (Thanksgiving 2003) This photo appears to show President Bush serving dinner to troops during a surprise visit to Iraq on Thanksgiving Day, 2003. The image was widely published and credited with helping the President's popularity rise in polls. But the image was later criticized for being misleadingly captioned, because newspapers failed to mention that Bush was holding a decorative centerpiece not intended for consumption. The troops were actually fed turkey from steam trays. More…
Leftist Patriot. (Circulating online since 2002. ) Senator Daschle's hand was digitally flipped to make it appear he was repeating the Pledge of Allegiance incorrectly. More…
Bush Reads Book Upside-Down. (Found online, September 2002.) In the original version of this photo, President Bush's book was not upside-down. More…
White Hot Mama. (July 1992) Ann Richards, governor of Texas, appeared on the cover of Texas Monthly in a "Bad Girl" pose astride a white-and-chrome Harley-Davidson. But Richards hadn't posed for the photo because she was unable to schedule time for a photoshoot. Texas Monthly created the shot by combining a stock photo of her head with a picture of a model. Richards later said that she loved the photo. More…
The Tydings Affair. (1950) As payback for a political slight, the staff of Sen. Joseph McCarthy created a photo that appeared to show Sen. Millard Tydings (right) chatting with the head of the American Communist Party (left) — although in reality the two men had not met. They released the photo shortly before a 1950 senate race in which Tydings was running, and it is believed to have contributed to Tydings' defeat in that election. More…
The Commissar Vanishes. (ca. 1940) The original version of this photo showed Nikolai Yezhov, the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs, walking beside Stalin (to his left) along the Moscow-Volga Canal. But after Yezhov fell out of political favor, Soviet censors deleted him from the photo. This photo has now become one of the most famous examples of how totalitarian regimes doctor images in their attempts to rewrite history. More…
The Perambulating Skull. (May 1936) Arthur Rothstein took this photo while documenting drought conditions in South Dakota for the Resettlement Administration. But Republican papers noticed that the same skull appeared in other photos by Rothstein and accused him of using it as a "movable prop" to dramatize the drought for political purposes. They mockingly referred to the cow's head as the "perambulating skull." More…
Baby Adolf. (Late 1933) In 1933, a picture supposedly showing Adolf Hitler as a baby began circulating throughout England and America. The child in the picture looked positively menacing. However, the child wasn't really the infant führer. In 1938 a Mrs. Harriet Downs of Ohio happened to see the picture in a magazine and immediately recognized it as her son. Someone had darkened the shadows around the child's face to give him a more sinister look. More…
Wisconsin’s Capitol Collapses. (April 1, 1933) An April Fool's Day image of the Wisconsin state capitol collapsing due to an excess of gas generated by verbose debate. More…
Bloody Sunday, 1905. (1925) Soviet textbooks claimed this was a photo of 1905's Bloody Sunday massacre in St. Petersburg. It was actually a reenactment of that event. More…
Trotsky Vanishes. (Taken in 1919; altered ca. 1967) Leon Trotsky is not in this picture, but he was in the original version of it — standing beside Lenin. The photo was taken on Nov. 7, 1919. It showed Soviet party leaders celebrating the second anniversary of the October Revolution in Red Square. But after Trotsky fell out of political favor, Soviet censors attempted to purge all evidence of his existence, which included removing him from photos such as this one. More…
Roosevelt Rides A Moose. (1912) Roosevelt ran for President in 1912 as the candidate of the Progressive Party, popularly known as the "Bull Moose Party." This image of Roosevelt appearing to ride a moose ran in the New York Tribune several months before the election. It was intended as a humorous photo fake depicting the "Race for the White House." In the 21st Century this image has circulated widely online, where many people have mistaken it for a photo of a real-life scene, which it is not. More…
The Martyr Lincoln. (late 1860s) Following the assassination of Lincoln, the Army didn't allow any pictures to be taken of him in his casket. Therefore, con artists stepped in to fill the demand. This image was one of many that circulated purporting to show the dead President, but it's fake. It shows a man lying down, probably only pretending to be dead. But that man is not Lincoln. More…
Lincoln’s Portrait. (Late 1860s) This standing portrait of Lincoln was created soon after the American Civil War. It hung in many classrooms, but Lincoln never posed for it. An unknown entrepreneur created it by cutting-and-pasting a headshot of Lincoln onto a portrait of the Southern leader John Calhoun. This was done because there were hardly any appropriate "heroic-style" portraits of Lincoln made during his life. More…
Petticoat Politics. (May 1865) A Northern photographer created this image of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in a dress. More…

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.