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Both Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and the image’s creator confirmed that the picture was generated by artificial intelligence.
The photo is in response to the Senate’s relaxed dress code, which has caused controversy among politicians.
You know those days where you wish you could go to work in your pajamas?
Well Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has those days too. According to the internet, at least.
"Senator Rand Paul showed up in a red bathrobe, due to the dress code being changed to accommodate Fetterman," read the caption of a Sept. 23 Facebook post that referenced Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa. An image attached to the post features a relaxed Paul seated on the U.S. Capitol steps in a cherry red bathrobe with no shoes.
(Screenshot from Facebook)
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Although memorable, people were snoozing on the facts. Paul’s Senate office confirmed to PolitiFact that this photo was generated by artificial intelligence.
It was first shared by Jeff Charles, who goes by "An Awful Pundit," on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. In his bio, he notes, "BREAKING = Satire." And when he originally shared the photo of a robed Paul, he wrote, "BREAKING: Sen. Rand Paul shows up to work at the Capitol barefoot in a red bathrobe after Senate dress code change."
The series of photos is in response to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.,’s decision to relax the Senate’s informal dress code. Those who have opposed the change, such as Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, joked that she would show up to the Senate floor in a bikini.
Many credited Fetterman’s attire with inspiring the dress code change, which was previously suit and ties for men. Fetterman regularly wears hooded sweatshirts and gym clothes on Capitol Hill and has taken to voting from the Democratic cloakroom doorway in his otherwise prohibited attire, according to The Associated Press.
Over the past few days, Charles’ account has shared a series of images similar to the fake Paul portrait, all with the word "BREAKING." They include Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. in a bunny suit, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah in colonial attire, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. in Native American clothing, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. in a Confederate uniform, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. as a unicorn, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. in "pink booty shorts."
Charles confirmed to PolitiFact that he created these images using AI. And Paul himself got in on the joke and retweeted the image writing, "I thought I was clear when I said no photographs."
I thought I was clear when I said no photographs. https://t.co/QF9BGf8xeZ— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 23, 2023
But not everyone was in on the joke. One Sept. 23 X post from Italian American model Antonio Sabato Jr. drew 3.7 million views with no suggestion it was fabricated. "He’s my awesome senator ❤️ we love him in KY❤️," read one of the thousands of comments. Even on a post shared by a self-described meme account, commenters seemed to approve of what they thought was Paul’s attempt to ridicule Fetterman. "FANTASTIC!!! If I can’t wear my comfortable yoga pants and a sweat or t-shirt to my office job, NO ONE in our government should be able to dress like Fetterman," one wrote.
While the Senate dress code has loosened, senators have yet to start showing up in beach or bedroom attire.
The photo of Paul sitting at the Capitol in a bathrobe is not authentic. We rate this claim False.
Email interview with Jeff Charles, Sept. 25, 2023
Phone interview with spokesperson for Sen. Rand Paul. R-Ky., Sept. 25, 2023
The Associated Press, "Senate ditches dress code as Fetterman and others choose casual clothes," Sept. 18, 2023
The New York Times, "Lawmakers Give New Senate Dress Code a Dressing Down - The New York Times," Sept. 19, 2023
The Associated Press, "Back in hoodies and gym shorts, Fetterman tackles Senate life after depression treatment," May 21, 2023
Facebook search, "rand paul bathrobe," accessed Sept. 25, 2023
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