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Tracking down the fake presidential seal used to troll Donald Trump

July 25, 2019

A screen shot of Twitter this morning, showing two of the literally hundreds of Tweets about the presidential seal substitution.—Twitter

Donald Trump’s speech before a right wing group in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (July 23rd) was upstaged by a fake presidential seal behind him showing a double-headed Russian eagle clutching golf clubs.

Two days after Trump’s appearance, at what the Guardian describes as a “student summit hosted by the conservative group Turning Point USA”, innumerable news reports and social media posts show the U.S. president speaking in front of a larger-than-life projection of the fake presidential seal.

Throughout his speech, Trump was apparently unaware of the fact that behind his back he was being viciously and hilariously trolled (insultingly baited in public).

How does it troll thee? Let me count the ways

Closeup of the fake presidential seal.—Reddit/Imgur

Eagle-eyed audience members at the Turning Point USA event, however, did a double take. The fake seal projected behind the president had been egregiously altered in several blatant ways:

  • The American eagle was replaced by its double-headed Russian equivalent.
  • Rather than arrows, its left talon clutched an assortment of golf clubs.
  • The greenery held in its right talons had been turned into a wad of cash.
  • Rather than stars, the shield on the eagle’s breast bore Soviet hammers and sickles.
  • The motto above the eagle read: “45 es un titere”—Spanish for “45 is a puppet”—Trump being the 45th U.S. president.
  • And the decorative dingbats at the base of the seal were triskeles—three-pointed symbols used by some white supremacist groups.

Actually that last detail was unchanged from the real Seal of the President of the United States—go figure!

How such an image—carefully designed to shame the golf-loving president who is dogged by allegations that he was elected with the collusion of the Russian government—came to share the stage with him at a Trump-friendly Conservative event, “remains a mystery”, according to the Guardian.

All the Washington Postwhich broke the story—would say on the subject of the image’s origin is that Turning Point, the conservative group that hosted Trump, “had fired the member of its video team who was responsible for displaying the fake seal”.

Rounding up the usual suspects for this sort of thing

Would you like that on a sweatshirt, T-shirt, or a tanktop? “Trump’s Presidential Seal” by OneTermDonnie, at Inktale.com.—Inktale.com

It only took a moment to track down the likely origin of the fake presidential seal.

The logical starting point was that the seal was a meme—a humorous image intended to be spread rapidly by Internet users—created long before Trump’s speech on Tuesday.

The first stop for clues was Reddit—the Rick’s Café Américain of online conspiracy theorists, alt-rightists, social justice warriors and all the other likely suspects of social media’s meme generation.

There was a seven-hour-old Reddit discussion thread titled “Trump’s Presidential Seal“, which was illustrated with a straight-on view of the fake seal set against a dark background. Wherever it came from it wasn’t a news photo from Trump’s speech.

One comment towards the middle off the thread mentioned that “the website inktale seems to be the ones who designed it if people want it as a shirt”.

Inktale.com is a print-on-demand website, not unlike Snapfish, in that it will custom print a design of your choice on a range of objects, from T-shirts to coffee mugs,  Inktale’s inkdrop logo even looks fish-like.

Sure enough a search of Inktale for “presidential seal” brought up the exact same fake seal design that was projected behind Donald Trump.

It was titled “Trump’s Presidential Seal” and credited to the nom de net “OneTermDonnie”.

There is neither biographical information about the creator nor a direct contact link.

The page does include the keywords ‘anti-trump”, “resistance”, “democrat”, “progressive” and “hillary”—apparently to help bring the parody design to the attention of fashion-consious antifas. (anti-fascists).

According to Inktale, the design is available on T-shirts, tanktops, sweatshirts, wall art, phone cases, totes bags, throw pillows and coffee mugs.

No mention is made of film projector screens, though

Update: Thursday afternoon Forbes identified OneTermDonnie as the alias for Charles Leazott, a graphic designer (and former Republican) who created the parody Trump Presidential Seal in late 2016 to vent his frustration and entertain his family.

At the time, Leazott also created his own short-lived website to market the image on goods—as Inktale is doing. As he explained to Forbes, he allowed it lapse in 2017 but as of today, his website, called one-term-donnie.myshopify.com, is back up

Late Thursday, Leazott expressed his belief to the Washington Post (paywall) that the unknown person who projected the satirical seal behind Trump was “either wildly incompetent or the best troll ever. Either way, I love them.” Click the images to enlarge them.

5 Comments
  1. BTW: Titere translates to puppet or marionette. 45 es un titere is implying that he dances for another master.

    Like

    • Okay. That makes a lot of sense. Google Translate rendered it as “huge”, so I was aggregating various interpretations — puppet was one of them but I went with breaking the law. I will adjust the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think people like that should be jailed. Does any other country allow disrespect of their rulers?

    Like

    • Criticizing the government in dictatorial regimes, such Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and China (to name just a few autocracies) will land citizens in jail. But in so-called democratic countries, like Canada, the UK, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Italy, Japan (and the USA), the citizens technically are the rulers and the nominal heads of state are their hired employees.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Let’s go with: “Best troll ever”

    Like

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