The White House press team might want to ask for a mulligan on this one.
One day into the U.S. government’s first shutdown since 2013, the White House sent out a press blast featuring photos of Donald Trump at work. The message was simple: Look at our president working so hard to end this shutdown.
It was a fine idea with only one problem. There’s a photo of Trump sitting at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office where it doesn’t actually look like he’s working. The desk is barren, save for a coaster, a sharpie, and a phone. And Trump, who is ostensibly using the phone in the photo, really doesn’t look all that engaged.
Really, the whole scene looks staged. Badly staged.
It’s a bizarrely striking image. There’s Trump, sitting at his completely empty desk with a phone in hand but pulled away from his face. He’s staring into the camera, eyes narrowed, wearing a serious expression.
“This is a man who’s hard at work,” we’re supposed to think.
Not everyone bought it, however. Dr. Honor Sachs, a historian and professor at Western Carolina University, was one of those people. She decided to take it further than a single, snarky tweet. And for that, we can be thankful.
“Hey, all you People Who Know Desks,” Dr. Sachs wrote, pointing to a tweet containing the above image. “Does this look like the desk of somebody who works?”
Roughly 10 hours later, presumably dissatisfied with the responses she’d gotten, Dr. Sachs took it upon herself to share an epic 100-year thread featuring photos of past presidents working at their desks. Not all of them are at the Resolute Desk, or in the Oval Office, but there is a noticeable difference in the amount of clutter in past presidential workspaces versus the present one.
Here are a few highlights. Really though, you should go and check out the full thread. It’s a fun ride through history.
None of this is to say Trump is playing hooky from work during the shutdown. He’s surely doing something to keep busy. But his press shop might want to browse through photos of people — presidents or otherwise — actually at work before they stage another photo opp like this.