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Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa.’s tattoos on the insides of his forearms were not missing in a viral video. They were not clearly visible while he was gesturing, but were visible during other moments.
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Sen. John Fetterman’s forearm tattoos were sometimes obscured in a recent viral video, reigniting speculation that the Pennsylvania Democrat has a body double. It’s a conspiracy theory so widespread that Fetterman himself has joked about it.
Conservative activist Benny Johnson posted a Facebook video Sept. 15 that amplified these "body double" claims, with a caption that read, "Did John Fetterman’s Tattoos DISAPPEAR ? Body Double Confirmed?!" The same claim appears in a screenshot of another social media post that’s included in the video.
Later, after we contacted Johnson for comment, the caption was edited to say, "CLARIFICATION: The Tattoos are visible in another frame in the clip as explained in the video."
Johnson’s video showed footage of Fetterman’s reaction to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy launching an impeachment probe into President Joe Biden.
"He’s very well-known for the tattoos on his arms that are very, very visible. And what people are saying is that the tattoos that exist around his arms, which are very meaningful to John Fetterman, are not visible in this and how would you get rid of these tattoos?" Johnson said. Several tweets also made similar claims.
Johnson was talking about Fetterman’s forearm tattoos, which include"15104," the ZIP code for Braddock, Pennsylvania, where Fetterman served as mayor, and dates memorializing Braddock victims of violent crime during his tenure.
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When contacted for comment, Johnson’s executive producer Alex Lorusso, wrote, "The video in question has the title ‘Did John Fetterman’s Tattoos DISAPPEAR? Body Double Confirmed?!’ including two question marks to make clear that they are not claims being made by Benny or our page. These are claims being made by people on the internet which we address in depth in the video and actually go on to debunk."
But viewers had to watch more than eight minutes into Johnson’s video before he acknowledged that Fetterman’s tattoos were visible in other frames of the clip.
And comments on Johnson’s Facebook post showed that viewers believed the body double claim. "The shape of his head has changed, his ears have changed - they don't stick out as much, the shape of his eyes have changed. It's a different person playing the part," one comment said.
The original video of Fetterman was posted Sept. 12 on X by NBC News reporter Liz Brown-Kaiser. The tattoos on the insides of his forearms could clearly be seen at multiple points during the 21-second video.
The Hill, Fetterman jokingly addresses body double conspiracy theory, April 14, 2023
X post, Sept. 13, 2023
X post, Sept. 14, 2023
X post, Sept. 12, 2023
X post, Sept. 13, 2023
Tweet by Liz Brown-Kaiser, Sept. 12, 2023
Email exchange with Alex Lorusso, Benny Johnson’s executive producer, Sept. 18, 2023
PolitiFact, No, this photo doesn’t show a John Fetterman body double. Here’s why., March 27, 2023
PolitiFact, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy orders impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden: What to know, Sept. 12, 2023
PolitiFact, PA’s Fetterman said his tattoos memorialize lives taken in violence and don’t refer to drugs or gang, Oct. 5, 2022
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