Right wing conspiracy theorists and social media trolls are spreading an unhinged claim that Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman has been replaced with a body double.
The unfounded conspiracy began to percolate on social media platforms like Twitter and Telegram on Friday, and while it’s unclear where it originated, it may have been triggered by news the same day that the senator was preparing to leave Walter Reed hospital in Washington, D.C., where he has spent the last five weeks being treated for clinical depression.
The entire basis of the conspiracy theory is the comparison of two photos of Fetterman that the conspiracists claim are not of the same person—even though both are very obviously both of the Pennsylvania senator.
Body double conspiracies are a common trope in conspiracist circles: In recent years QAnon believers have claimed that President Joe Biden, Queen Elizabeth, and the Pope have been replaced by body doubles, all in an attempt to undermine the leaders’ credibility and boost the belief that the world is really run by a secret cabal of elites and the faceless “deep state.”
The Fetterman conspiracy gained momentum over the weekend when some high profile figures in the MAGA-sphere shared it. One of the most prominent is the right-wing troll account known as Catturd, which tweeted two photos of Fetterman with the comment: “It’s a miracle … In only 3 weeks, John Fetterman got a total head replacement. Man, he has some good doctors.”
The second photo Catturd shared is not new, but was taken in May 2022 when Fetterman was leaving hospital in Pennsylvania after suffering a stroke during his Senate campaign. Catturd, of course, did not mention this.
Other Twitter users also pointed out how the varying focal lengths of different camera lenses can have a huge impact on how people appear in pictures.
Despite this, and despite the presence of a note on the tweet from Twitter’s user-generated Community Notes feature warning that the fact the picture is a year old, waCatturd’s tweet has racked up over 10 million engagements. It was one of dozens of similar posts on Twitter over the weekend by right-wing figures.
“They literally replaced fetterman, this is insane,” lawyer and former Republican congressional candidate Jason Roberge tweeted, while actor and conspiracist Randy Quaid simply tweeted: “This is not Fetterman.”
“I think a DNA sample is in order here. LOL. That’s not Fetterman on the right,” tweeted Juanita Broaddrick, a former nurse who accused former President Bill Clinton of rape, and who more recently has spoken at many QAnon events.
But others in the conspiracy and MAGA worlds are now pushing back, claiming that the “body double” conspiracies are damaging their reputation and hiding the real conspiracy— which is that Fetterman is, in fact, “braindead.”
“Those who don’t know how to critically think through situations and spout whatever conspiracy theory aligns with their confirmation bias are fueling the [mainstream media] attacks against all of us,” Jordan Sather, a QAnon promoter and grifter, posted on Telegram on Sunday.
“Fetterman is being hidden from the public because [he]… would make a fool of himself. But to automatically spout ‘clone!’ or ‘body double!’ is not showing any advancement of thought or research.”
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
The post QAnon Spent the Weekend Spreading a John Fetterman Body Double Conspiracy Theory appeared first on VICE.