An obviously photoshopped meme of President Trump giving a Medal of Honor to the military canine injured in the U.S. special forces raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound has sparked outrage from the perpetually outraged media and has inspired a number of urgent tweets and reports, including some heavy-hitting journalism from The New York Times and The Washington Post.
But when the Times contacted the war hero edited out of the original photo, retired Army medic James C. McCloughan, the paper found that he didn’t have quite the response that Trump’s critics probably hoped he’d have.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted out a humorous and painfully obvious photoshop job — first tweeted by The Daily Wire’s social media team — along with the all-caps caption declaring, “AMERICAN HERO!”
AMERICAN HERO! pic.twitter.com/XCCa2sGfsZ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2019
As The Daily Wire reported earlier, one intrepid reporter sprang to action to get to the bottom of the Trump-tweeted, Daily Wire-produced meme.
“I’ve requested details from the [White House] on this photo,” tweeted Voice of America’s Steven Herman. “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.”
Soon, Herman’s very serious investigative cause was picked up by The New York Times. “Trump Tweets Faked Photo of Hero Dog Getting a Medal,” the Times declared Wednesday in its hard-charging report, produced by two equally serious Times journalists.
“President Trump on Wednesday shared an altered photograph of himself placing a medal around the neck of the dog injured in the raid last weekend that led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s leader,” the Times reports.
“The image, which bears a watermark for a social media account for the conservative news site The Daily Wire, appeared to be an altered version of a 2017 Associated Press photograph,” the Times explains. “In the original, Mr. Trump is seen awarding a Medal of Honor to James C. McCloughan, a retired Army medic who is credited with saving the lives of 10 men during the war in Vietnam.”
Despite the serious tone of the piece, when the Times reached out to McCloughan by phone Wednesday for his response to Trump’s joking tweet, the paper found that the Medal of Honor recipient was “not offended” at all — in fact, he “laughed when he compared the two images.”
“In a phone interview on Wednesday, Mr. McCloughan, 73, who had not seen the image before a reporter sent it to him, said that he interpreted it as Mr. Trump recognizing the dog’s heroism,” the paper reports. “He certainly was not offended and laughed when he compared the two images.”
Noting that Medal of Honor recipients accept the award on behalf of their teams, McCloughan said canines have often been key to successful missions.
“This recognizes the dog is part of that team of brave people,” said McCloughan, emphasizing that military canines “are very courageous.”
Not to be outdone by the Times, The Washington Post also made sure the truth about the meme wouldn’t die in the darkness, issuing its own big report and a tweet trembling with indignation: “Trump tweeted a photo of a Medal of Honor recipient — who was edited out and replaced by a dog.”
Trump tweeted a photo of a Medal of Honor recipient — who was edited out and replaced by a dog https://t.co/O3VWxMTt9E
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 30, 2019