Fact Check: Obama Portrait Image Was Manipulated To Show Goat-Like Figure In Mirrored Version Attached To Original

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Obama Portrait Image Was Manipulated To Show Goat-Like Figure In Mirrored Version Attached To Original Altered

Does a combination of former President Barack Obama's portrait and its mirrored version produce an image of a goat-like figure? No, that's not true: The image was digitally manipulated. The altered picture was shared by an account with a long history of spreading false claims.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, by @ShadowofEzra on June 12, 2024. It opened:

This is what you see when you mirror the paintings of King Charles and Barack Obama.

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-06-13 at 10.30.15 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Thu Jun 13 14:30:15 2024 UTC)

The post featured the 2018 portrait of Barack Obama (archived here) painted by African-American artist Kehinde Wiley (archived here) for the National Portrait Gallery.

The portrait incorporates many allusions (archived here), but a goat is not one of them.

Lead Stories recreated the experiment described in the entry on X, but the result was different from what the post claimed: An easily recognizable, much lighter-than-the-background goat-like figure simply did not appear at the intersection of the two versions of the portrait.

The True Media tool detected "substantial evidence of manipulation" with "82% confidence":

Screenshot 2024-06-13 at 11.02.29 AM.png

(Sources: True Media screenshots taken on Thu Jun between 13 14:33:48 2024 and 14:34:06 2024 UTC; composite image by Lead Stories)

One of the first appearances of this digitally altered image of Obama took place in mid-May 2024 on a football forum in the "Bring Us Your Memes Thread" (archived here).

The manipulated image invoked a conspiratorial narrative about satanic elites worshipping the goat-headed deity Baphomet (archived here).

Posts implying purported links between Obama and Baphomet have gone viral before. For example, Snopes reviewed some of those in 2018.

The @ShadowofEzra paid account with the blue checkmark on X -- whose post is the focus of this fact check -- has been active on Telegram, too. It asked (archived here) followers there to downvote community notes on X aimed at flagging false or misleading content. While doing so, the account referenced Pizzagate, which is another conspiracy debunked numerous times:

Screenshot 2024-06-13 at 12.43.15 PM.png

(Source: Telegram screenshot taken on Thu Jun 13 16:43:15 2024 UTC)

The linked account on Telegram spread other false claims: For example, it posted unsubstantiated speculations about Russian submarines in U.S. waters (archived here), a variation of which was debunked by Lead Stories here.

Other Lead Stories fact checks mentioning Barack Obama can be found here. Stories about politics are here.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion