Former White House Photographer Suggests Camera Timestamps Could Prove the Picture of Trump Watching Strike on ISIS Leader Was Staged

Former White House Photographer Suggests Camera Timestamps Could Prove the Picture of Trump Watching Strike on ISIS Leader Was Staged

Following the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, former White House photographer Pete Souza has attempted to out Trump and his team for allegedly staging a photo in which they are seen to be watching the deadly strike occur. Souza highlights the camera’s IPTC data, which indicates the photo’s timestamp to be some 90 minutes after the strike occurred.

Having served as the chief official White House photographer for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, Souza hasn’t shied away from letting his opinion of Trump be known, being heavily critical of the President in the past. Taking to Twitter, he compared the time the strike was reported to have happened, with the timestamp of the camera’s data. Bakr al-Baghdadi was initially said to have been killed around 3.30pm – but the photo was taken at 5.05pm.

https://twitter.com/PeteSouza/status/1188471757579194371

Others backed up his claims, with media reports suggesting Trump only returned to the White House at 3.30pm, after spending the day playing golf. Some, however, challenged Souza’s claims, suggesting the raid could have continued through to the later time. Souza acknowledged this potential version of events, later posting:

Before drawing definite conclusions about the photo, reporters need to nail down the actual timeline of the raid.

However, Souza has since gone on to follow it up with an update from the New York Times, who reported that helicopters left Iraq at 5pm Washington time. It's about a 70-minute flight to Syria. "So [the] actual raid had to happen some time after 6:10PM," Souza concluded.

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49 Comments

Miles W's picture

Not sure why this matters. I'm sure these types of photos and many more are always staged.

tyler h's picture

Exactly! why does it matter if it was staged or not.

Les Sucettes's picture

Oh truth does matter. Let me guess you’re not a journalist.

However I give you this one: it’s not actually possible to tell, because time stamps are based on settings and they can be changed or may just be set to the wrong time (travel)

Eugene Polonsky's picture

Respectfully. Please keep politics out.

Les Sucettes's picture

Respectfully: accuracy of photojournalism is political in nature — what you mean is partisanship. The article reports on the accuracy of the photograph from a journalistic perspective l. It is very relevant and a neutral report on the photojournalistic community and it’s reaction to a news photograph

Eugene Polonsky's picture

Les, correct me if I am wrong, this site is about photography. Not photojournalism...photography. I would be happy to read or discuss anything to do with lenses, lights, cameras, etc. Software, hardware, sites and technics used to take photos. Models even...but please keep the politics out. Don't we get enough through other media? Keep this site as a 'safe space' for the rest of us...

Les Sucettes's picture

So photography is about equipment and models. I disagree

Eugene Polonsky's picture

Respectfully, photography is about whatever you want it to be...this site, however, should be about the process...

Ariel Martini's picture

Given the camera time was correct (:

Grant Watkins's picture

I love Pete, in fact I met him at a book signing. That being said, really?

Jeff McCollough's picture

Who cares? Nobody. Oh and BTW a lot of us are getting sick of all the one sided political articles here on a Photography site.

Anthony Collins's picture

Cancel your subscription and stop payment.

Darryl Currey's picture

Soon as the other side start doing stupid shit, there will be stories about them too.

Les Sucettes's picture

Did you read until the end? Nothing one sided here - if anything it is the journalist that jumped the gun.

Mark Guinn's picture

This is no different than the suggestion that Obama was photoshopped into the Situation Room photo taken during the Bin Laden raid. Pointless accusations by silly right-wingers then, pointless accusations by silly left-wingers now.

Jarrod McMatt's picture

Not to mention that the photographer looking at time stamps admits, along with anyone who knows the military, that raids can take multiple hours so time stamps really mean nothing at all.

Les Sucettes's picture

True with two differences
1. The photograph is a “staged shot” regardless of whether or not it was during the time of the raid it is obvious that all people are sitting in a row like ducks. If you are watching a raid happening right now and your political capital is on the line this is not how you sit there.

2. Photoshopping someone into a photograph is far more ridiculous concept than claiming that a “group photo” doesn’t look real

3. Last but not least; the claimant immediately retracted his views after he realised he couldn’t prove it - he gave benefit of doubt. Not exactly something Fox News did, has done or would ever do.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Who cares....

Johnny Rico's picture

I've often sync'ed my cameras ahead of time for event jobs, and even then by the next event coverage job a few months later one is an hour apart. I can never figure it out/ keep it constant. Seems like Souza is a Liberal trying to stay relevant by his negative political pieces that wind up on Fstoppers.

Dan E's picture

This forum is a nice place to go to get my mind off politics, not to have to deal with Trump bashing. I guess I’ll still vote for him AGAIN despite his tardiness to the meeting.

Ted Mercede's picture

Lol, nice one.

Richard Tack's picture

Souza, what was the camera model,shutter, f-stop and iso? You are a photographer, aren't you?

Mike Yamin's picture


However, Souza has since gone on to follow it up with an update from the New York Times, who reported that helicopters left Iraq at 5pm Washington time. It's about a 70-minute flight to Syria. "So [the] actual raid had to happen some time after 6:10PM," Souza concluded”

So, in other words, Souza jumped the gun and was wrong about the whole thing, even admitting so himself, but whatever, let’s try and smear the president anyway... on a photography site no less.

Deleted Account's picture

Who cares?

Ryan Davis's picture

Photographers talking about photography is more than toxic enough. I don't think we need to amp that up any.

Walter Radke's picture

Trump is a habitual and prolific liar. To pretend otherwise is to be lazy, naive or willfully stupid. Millions of people still care when the president lies. Even if it might upset his delicate little fanboys on fstoppers.com.

Ken Flanagan's picture

Sure “Walter”.

Jim Bolen's picture

Well, he is right that he is a pathological liar.

Rex Larsen's picture

Pete Souza is a national treasure, one of the best photographers alive. He's a nice guy who makes extraordinary photographs of important people.

Jim Bolen's picture

Not sure why that would get three thumbs down. Nothing you said is inaccurate. He is a great shooter.

g coll's picture

Trump apologists. Nutters.

Arthur q's picture

This delightful article uses the highest degree of journalistic ineptitude in an attempt to smear President Trump by quoting random bits of a partial report whose irrelevant author already admits is wrong.

Mike Dixon's picture

"What difference, at this point, does it make?" - Hillary Clinton

Sridhar Chilimuri's picture

why is Pence distracted? Everyone else is looking at the camera.

LA M's picture

Who cares...

post more content like this: https://youtu.be/MkNIdJ72jXY

Jim Bolen's picture

Very cool! I was born and raised in the Columbus area and briefly went to CCAD.

Geoff Miller's picture

So, why does this article scream Souza's initial claim... but ignore his later Tweet suggesting his theory might be incorrect until the last sentence? Seems to me Souza, perhaps due to a case of "Orange Man Bad!", jumped to a conclusion before he knew all of the information and then had to backpedal to "Oops, I might be wrong" sometime after his initial claim was re-Tweeted all over the place.

M M's picture

I don’t understand why people constantly are getting worked up over stuff like this. Why not worry about important issues like health care or deficits?

g coll's picture

This is Trump we’re talking about so of course it was staged. Most likely he was playing golf again on the American tax payer’s expense or eating some McDonald’s while watching Fox.

I feel for you Americans having an absolute sociopathic nutter “running” the country.

To anyone trying to defend trump you really need to wake up.

Ken Hunt's picture

Why is this relevant on this site?

D M's picture

"Souza highlights the camera’s IPTC data"

Oh no, notify Schiff and Nadler. Investigations and charges to follow. Who cares.

Mike Ditz's picture

I would never trust a time stamp on any of my cameras, but I figure that this was shot when they said it was shot.

If I compare the two photos in question, the bin-laden raid photo is much more interesting as it shows a group of govt officials watching the event. All of the people in the picture seem involved with what they are watching and show different expressions, but I don't think it is posed. The interesting thing is that the Brig. General is in the Big Chair while Obama sits in a regular chair. The way Clinton's hand is at her mouth says a lot about what they are watching, seeing people get killed in real time is pretty sobering.
IMO as a photo, the one taken during the raid on al-Baghdadi is a pretty crappy picture, but is a record of the event. Maybe it isn't but it looks posed to me, but the guys don't really know where to look, some are looking at the camera or the monitors but they are all doing the hard guy stare.

Whoever the acting WH photographer is they have some big shoes to fill. Like his politics or not Souza is a pretty damn good photographer.

mark wilkins's picture

They're watching webcam of Melania at Mar-O-Lago by the pool. Three of them are acting like they are interested...but Pence knows his wife will be pissed so he's just about out the door.

JAY B's picture

Souza, photographer for Obama, has reinvented himself as a partisan activist by putting out a story made up out of thin air knowing full well it would be grabbed onto by the far left fake news media and of course it was.

Mike Ditz's picture

Photographer for Obama and Reagan.
As a photograph of a group of government employees, in the same room doing pretty much the same thing, watching terrorists get killed and hope our guys don't get killed, the Trump photo is not very memorable compared to the Obama photo. For that I fault the WH photographer.The time stamp thing is stupid.

Ferdinand Teunisse's picture

Listen we all know Trump is a lying liar who lies, but everyone is missing the real horror and travesty of this photo....
The IT department at the WH is shit! look at that mess of cables! half aren't even connected to anything. As an IT guy this hurts my soul...I don't like trump but i'd love to get hired at the WH to fix that mess :P

mark wilkins's picture

That orange cord in front isnt even plugged into anything

Mike Ditz's picture

And the DoD probably paid $1100 for it...

Daryl Alm's picture

Why is this even here you baby murderers. The same people that don't believe this photograph is true are the same people that believe Epstein hung himself.