8 Facts About the White House Visitor Center Presidents Wall: Can You Find the Mistake?
Donald Trump is president no more and Joe Biden's photo is real on the pictures of presidents viral exhibit
The White House Visitor Center has gotten more attention for Donald Trump and Joe Biden on its pictures of presidents than any other exhibit in the museum.
Two mainstream fact-check outlets have now reported on the display that went viral on social media. And I finally got on-the-record answers from the government about the presidential portraits at the official White House museum.
Keep reading for eight facts about the mysterious display. The last one is another mistake that I found on the now-infamous wall that the government will have to pay to fix.
Fact 1 – Trump is no longer president on the wall
I’ve asked the National Park Service (NPS) media relations team for over five months why Trump was still displayed on the wall as the current president. They finally answered after the public called top federal officials for answer and Pres. Biden was added to the display.
“The National Park Service updated the presidential panels inside the White House Visitor Center on Monday, March 6, 2023,” NPS spokeswoman Chelsea Sullivan said in response to the nine questions (read them here) I asked after my last report.
Fact 2- The wall was installed in 2014
There has been much public attention about the government not changing the display during the first two years of the Biden administration and some wondered if the display was new. I asked Sullivan about the history. She replied:
The original panel display was installed during the 2014 visitor center renovation.
So for seven years, there was almost no public interest in the obscure display of presidents that is on the reverse side of a wall by the bathrooms. That changed in 2021 when YouTuber Penguin Six followed his subscribers’ questions about the rumors and posted this video of the wall with Trump showing no end date to his presidency.
Fact 3— Three panels are replaced together
In October, we partially solved the mystery when an NPS official on-site explained to me in the video below that the delay was due to having to change the entire display just to update the Trump/Biden section.
Sullivan, the official spokeswoman, explained this in more detail.
“To ensure that the background color matches across the panels, this did require that we replace all three panels,” said Sullivan.
The photo below shows how the colors match on the panels in the updated wall.
I asked how the wall is made:
The panel is made of vinyl adhered to glass and is backlit to match the design of the other interpretive and photo walls.
NPS did not respond to questions No. 4 and 5 about how they finally got funding to do it and what vendor did the work.
Fact 4 – Trump change was not delayed
Sullivan said that the timing for the Trump-Biden changes was normal for the government-run museum.
“Our goal is to update the presidential panels inside the White House Visitor Center as soon as possible following a change in administration,” she said.
In November, an NPS official at the information desk told me in the video below that it took two years to add Trump next to Barack Obama.
Fact 5 - Biden gets extra attention
People on social media guessed that Biden was not on the presidents’ wall because his administration was represented by a temporary display of him nearby. I asked if that would be taken down now.
“The vinyl banner across from the panels with information about President Biden will stay on display in the Visitor Center through the duration of the administration.,” replied the NPS spokeswoman.
Fact 6 - Biden’s photo is real
The fact checkers at the left-wing PolitiFact and USA Today reported on the wall this week. They didn’t get an official response because they asked the White House Historical Association – a private, nonprofit that has a store in the visitors’ center – for information.
We know that the Park Service runs the White House Visitor Center. (Yes, I’m gloating.)
The two outlets’ fact-checks are about a Facebook post that claims the new photo of Biden is fake. The post shows several photos of Biden over the years and says:
The fact that they put a "face" on the Presidents Wall at the WH visitor center that is not really Joe Bidens, shows this.
The fact is that the Biden photo on the wall is clearly the official portrait (link here and below) that is on display in government buildings and military bases. His crooked smile in the photo is distinctive.
I asked Sullivan about the Facebook post about Biden’s photo.
The social media post that you shared shows a portion of the Presidential Portrait Panel display at the White House Visitor Center. The display includes the official portrait of President Biden along with all of our previous Presidents.
The Facebook post is just stirring up cooky conspiracy theories, which is perfectly fine to do on social media. It’s noteworthy that the big fact-check outlets wrote full stories on it. They did that so that Meta could slap a “false information” label on the Facebook post with a link to “fact checks from multiple organizations.” Look:
Both of these “organizations” get directed by Facebook to fact-check posts by the Silicon Valley censors. That doesn’t mean they are wrong, but it is coordinated by a powerful social media corporation and not influence-free media.
Speaking of influence-free media, I have no advertisers or sponsors. Your subscriptions fund my independent journalism. Consider supporting:
Fact 7 - Obama flag is correct
As I wrote in my last story, NPS also just updated Barack Obama to use his official painted portrait instead of a photograph. It was unveiled at the White House in Sept. 2022.
Some of you asked why Obama no longer has a flag behind him. The official photo of a president in office has the American flag over his right shoulder.
But there is no flag behind in the painted portraits of presidents made after they leave office. If you look at all the other presidents’ portraits below, none of them have flags.
Fact 8 - Text is wrong about Obama
I noticed that the only text on the wall of presidents was not updated went the pictures changed. It says on the lower right side:
George Washington through George W. Bush: White House Historical Association (White House collection)
Barack Obama: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
It should say the portraits go through Obama and include credits for the photos of Trump and Biden. I asked the NPS and didn’t hear back for two weeks. Finally, I got an acknowledgment that the wall is still wrong:
The outdated photo credit line at the bottom of the third panel was an oversight error in the review process. It was left over from a previous file version and we are looking into possible fixes.
They won’t tell me how much these changes are costing taxpayers, but it’s just so typical of the federal bureaucracy to make another mistake.
Conspiracies about the Trump Wall
I’ve deliberately not written about the social media conspiracy theories that made this issue go viral. I don’t want to use my Substack to fuel rumors. However, now that it’s over, I’ll say to my paid subscribers…