On April 26 2019, Facebook page “The Trump Train” shared the following post (archived here), claiming that it showed a crowd of a few dozen people in Houston ten minutes before Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was scheduled to speak:
Across the top of an image of a few dozen people, the text read:
4/24/19 – Bernie’s Rally crowd in Houston, 10 minutes prior to him taking the stage….
Underneath the image, a screenshot of a Houston Public Media article (“Bernie Sanders Rally Draws Big Crowd In Houston“) appeared underneath additional text added to the photograph:
This is what the Fake News media calls a “Big Crowd”
The meme makes a very specific claim — that the image was taken just ten minutes prior to Sanders’ scheduled appearance. It also heavily implies that this was the entirety of the crowd there to greet him.
According to BernieSanders.com, the event began at 5 in the afternoon local time, and doors opened at 3:30, an hour and a half before the rally. On the day of the rally, the same photograph was shared to Reddit’s r/The_Donald. However, at that point no one claimed that the image was “ten minutes” prior to the start of the rally. Three days later, a Twitter user posted the same image shared to Reddit, that time with the “ten minutes” claim included:
— the big fellow (@borderfox116) April 27, 2019
In fact, a number of people on social media pushed identical or extremely similar claims about the exact same image:
Bernie Sanders rally in Houston, the liberal media wants you to believe 30,000 showed up. pic.twitter.com/X8aDzMych1
— Standing Up (@LCohob) April 25, 2019
— NJ MAGA 🇺🇸✝️ (@NJCommonSense) April 25, 2019
But a nearly identical photograph was shared to Twitter on the day of the rally. In that tweet, the poster said that the image was taken two hours before the rally, or 30 minutes before the stated “doors open” time:
The same person sent a second tweet with a screenshot of a television showing a larger crowd during the rally:
A similar photograph was timestamped at 4:30 local time, again prior to the start of the rally, contradicting the “ten minutes before” claim:
— David Pergande (@WilpowerRacing) April 24, 2019
Attendees of the rally also shared photographs of the crowd from the ground:
— BrentSullivan🔻 (@BrentSullivan) April 24, 2019
— Ari Rabin-Havt (@AriRabinHavt) April 24, 2019
The image of a Bernie Sanders rally in Houston seen in the meme was originally labeled as having been taken two hours prior to the event, not ten minutes before. A number of unlinked accounts began sharing the same photograph and claim, despite a mismatch with images of the event after doors opened at 3:30 PM local time. According to the Houston Chronicle‘s coverage of that event, about 3,000 people attended Sanders’ rally in support of his 2020 election bid.