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.

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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46 Comments

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

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

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)

Respectfully. Please keep politics out.

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

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.

Cancel your subscription and stop payment.

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

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.

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.

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 S'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.

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.

Steven Hille'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.

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.

Trump apologists. Nutters.

Arthur Morgan'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.

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

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