OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Another photo of freshman Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) has gone viral as he continues to be treated for clinical depression.
Fetterman was finally seen in public roughly five weeks after he was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center.
Fetterman’s release from the hospital on Friday was accompanied by photos shared by his staff. However, one particular photo that circulated on social media raised doubts about the senator’s condition, with Newsweek reporting that some people were floating a “body double” conspiracy.
“The image, provided by the Fetterman campaign, can be seen in an article published on the website of NPR station WESA on the same day. It shows Fetterman and his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, posing and smiling as they leave the hospital,” Newsweek noted, adding:
The photo of the supposedly “fake” Fetterman being taken last year raises questions about the timeline of the conspiracy. The conspiracy theorists do not appear to be claiming that anything is awry with photos of Fetterman taken before or after May 22, 2022.
For the theory to be true, the supposed “replacement” Fetterman would have briefly appeared in May of last year, only to be replaced by the actual Fetterman after the photo was taken. It is unclear what purpose that would serve.
Nevertheless, Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault, opined on Twitter: “I think a DNA sample is in order, here. LOL. That’s not Fetterman on the right.”
I think a DNA sample is in order, here. LOL. That’s not Fetterman on the right. pic.twitter.com/FpcS2FLK0m
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) March 24, 2023
Author Brigitte Gabriel noted as well: “I’m not one to push conspiracy theories, but John Fetterman’s face looks totally different.”
“They literally replaced Fetterman, this is insane,” Attorney Jason Roberge offered.
They literally replaced fetterman, this is insane https://t.co/UkTBhQcKov
— Jason Roberge (@JasonRobergeVA) March 24, 2023
“It’s a miracle … In only 3 weeks, John Fetterman got a total head replacement. Man, he has some good doctors,” added popular Twitter account Catturd.
It’s a miracle … In only 3 weeks, John Fetterman got a total head replacement.
Man, he has some good doctors. pic.twitter.com/MYRQF4mcGb
— Catturd ™ (@catturd2) March 24, 2023
The photo on the right, however, is from last year after Fetterman’s treatment for a stroke.
It was taken as he and his wife, Gisele Fetterman, were leaving the hospital, a video of which she posted to her own Twitter. There’s no evidence that the newly released photos of Sen. Fetterman are fake or of someone else, as some users have suggested.
João is headed home ❤️ time to rest and recover (and annoy me)!
I’m so grateful for the amazing staff at Lancaster General for taking such good care of him from start to finish. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cAzFY8ojQe
— Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@giselefetterman) May 22, 2022
Earlier this month, the very first photos of Fetterman after he entered Walter Reed Medical Center for clinical depression were released, which drew quick responses from several observers.
Some dismissed the photos as “staged,” while others noticed that Fetterman seemed gaunt, hollow, and even frail despite his 6′ 9″ frame.
“Productive morning with Senator Fetterman at Walter Reed discussing the rail safety legislation, Farm Bill, and other Senate business. John is well on his way to recovery and wanted me to say how grateful he is for all the well wishes. He’s laser-focused on PA & will be back soon,” noted Fetterman’s chief of staff, Adam Jentleson on Twitter in a post containing several photos of the Pennsylvania Democrat.
Productive morning with Senator Fetterman at Walter Reed discussing the rail safety legislation, Farm Bill and other Senate business. John is well on his way to recovery and wanted me to say how grateful he is for all the well wishes. He’s laser focused on PA & will be back soon. pic.twitter.com/143uAhoQRx
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) March 6, 2023
Christina Pushaw, who is the communications director for the campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, responded: “I thought he was in inpatient treatment for a psychiatric emergency? How come they let you in?? And why are they letting him work? He is supposed to be recovering no??”
“He’s not actually reading or discussing anything in those pictures. They came and gave him papers as a prop for a proof of life photo, then sent him back to bed,” another user noted.
“Lol. Do you imagine we can’t recognize a planned photo op when we see it? You think we believe this is a real picture of him working?” said another Twitter user.
Fetterman’s team spent the 2022 election season insisting that their candidate was fit to serve in the Senate and did not have remaining health issues after suffering a major stroke in May. But he was rushed to the hospital last month after “feeling lightheaded,” though his team insists he did not have another stroke, The Washington Post reported.
“He is in good spirits and talking with his staff and family. We will provide more information when we have it,” his communications director, Joe Calvello, said at the time.
He said “initial tests did not show evidence of a new stroke” and that “doctors are running more tests and John is remaining overnight for observation.”
Fetterman was released after a couple of days, but he checked himself back into Walter Reed on the advise of the congressional physician with the chief complaint of clinical depression later in February.