In late September 2019, Facebook user Pedro Paul Saldaña shared the following meme, which claimed an appended image depicted President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One waiting to greet freed American hostages:
The text on the meme read:
A 71 year old man waiting at 2 am to welcome home three American hostages – after being up over 20 hours. Not a perfect man by any means, but certainly the man God has called for this job at this time. God bless My President!
A 71 year old man waiting at 2 am to welcome home three American hostages – after being up over 20 hours.
Not a perfect man by any means, but certainly the man God has called for this job at this time.
Miller’s original post accrued nearly half a million shares, but neither iteration — October 2019 or May 2018 — included a backstory about the image or the scenario the text purported to describe. However, a stock image site featured the image, along with a press-style caption for it:
Joint Base Andrews May 10, 2018.
U.S. President Donald Trump aboard Marine One after landing at Joint Base Andrews to welcome home three American detainees May 10, 2018 in Clinton, Maryland. Three detainees were released include Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the planned meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Credit: Planetpix/Alamy Live News – Image ID: MM7PRJ
President Donald Trump on [May 9 2019] announced that three Americans who had been detained in North Korea, Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song, are now on their way home.
Trump tweeted this statement at 5:30am Pacific time (2:30am Eastern) on May 9 2018. NPR reported the three men were expected to land at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland between 2am and 3am local time on May 10 2018.
On May 10 2018, The Guardian covered the event:
Three Americans released by North Korea were being assessed at a US military hospital on [May 10 2018], not long after landing in the US in the early hours of the morning, with Donald Trump waiting on the tarmac to greet their plane.
The three men emerged from a US government plane, flashing peace signs high above their heads. A huge US flag hung between two fire trucks served as a backdrop against the night sky.
At 3:01 am Pacific (6:01am Eastern) on May 10 2019, the President tweeted:
Miller’s original Facebook post in May 2018 claimed: Trump was “a 71 year old man” at the time the photograph was taken, that it showed him “waiting at 2 am to welcome home three American hostages,” and that Trump waited “after being up over 20 hours.”
President Trump turned 73 in June 2019, meaning he was 71 in May 2018. Although the image was not time-stamped, it fit into the two to three am window cited in news reports. The three hostages released were Americans, and Trump tweeted at 7:30 am (20 hours earlier than his appearance at Joint Base Andrews.)
In the post, Miller said Trump had been awake for 20 hours. Trump published several tweets between 7 and 8am Eastern time on May 9 2018, again about 20 hours before the hostages touched down on American soil around 3 the following morning:
Although the screenshot was slightly inaccurate in a technical sense upon its reposting in October 2019, it was not false when posted and remains broadly true. The screenshot of the post was published in May 2018, the same month Trump (who was 71 at the time) greeted three American hostages on their arrival at Joint Base Andrews in the early hours of May 10 2018. Trump was up and tweeting 20 hours earlier, publishing four tweets between 7 and 8am Eastern Time on May 9 2018. Roughly 20 hours later, he was waiting aboard Air Force One for the arrival of the three men.