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Fact check: Debunking claims that Biden’s Oval Office is a fake movie set

Social media users have shared photos of President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, claiming they provide proof that the office is fake or a film set. The “evidence” includes a supposed change in wallpaper, allegedly darkened windows and claims that former President Trump is walking in the background outside the office. Reuters has examined each of these photos and found none of the claims to be true.

U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

One of the posts ( here ) says “The Oval Office is Castle Rock ~ Hollywood film set. You have been watching a movie. New Parking Lot in The Background, and LOL Trump Walks By In Both Windows. The Oval Office does not have a PARKING LOT with cars outside its window. This is a complete fake. #CeoJoe is signing blank pieces of paper.”

As so-called evidence, the post includes a series of photos is says show  that Trump can be seen in the window behind Biden (  here   ,  here  ); the color of the rug has changed from Trump’s Oval Office (  here  ,  here  ); there is a tank outside the window (here); the background in the windows behind Biden does not match that of Trump’s Oval Office (  here  ,  here  ); the windows are darkened (here); the wallpaper is not the same as Trump’s Oval Office (  here  ,  here  ); and the post also includes photos of Oval Office movie sets (  here  ,  here  ).  

Captions on other similar posts say “So the executive orders are being signed on a movie set… I see this on the back they put Trump on the window. Lol” ( here );  “This is all a production folks… Bidey (sic) isn’t even IN the Oval Office… except the duplicate studio from Castle Rock!” ( here ); and “The Castle Rock Oval Office has been used for Disney’s “Nixon” and 20th Century Fox’s “Independence Day” and most likely for the great debacle that we bore witness to recently!” ( here )

Some supporters of the widely debunked QAnon conspiracy, which is based around the idea that former President Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators that includes prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites and “deep state” allies ( here ), believe that Biden is not president and the military is in power until Trump returns to office on March 4 and exposes the supposed cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophile cannibal elites. Reuters debunked some of these claims   here  - a U.S. government defense official told Reuters via email that neither martial law nor the Insurrection Act had been declared. 

Film sets of the oval office exist but there is no compelling evidence Biden’s recently photographed office is a film set ( here , here ).

Biden can be seen entering in the White House after his inauguration in this Reuters video  here  , and in the White House in the following days in other Reuters videos  here   ,  here  ,  here  and  here  , as well as in official White House videos  here  and  here  .

PARKING LOT AND TANKS

The post claims that there is a parking lot and a tank in the background of the Oval Office, seen out of the picture windows, when no parking lot exists in that location in the White House.

The Oval Office is located in the south-eastern corner of the West Wing of the White House and faces onto the South Lawn and the Rose Garden, as seen in the West Wing Tour Map and Map of the White House Grounds   here  and  here  .

As such, the Oval Office does not have a parking lot outside it but it does have a private road around the south lawn that would be visible from the window, as seen in maps from the White House tours ( here ), the National Parks Service ( here )  and Google maps satellite view ( bit.ly/3pysRMg ). The road can be seen in Reuters and Getty Images photos  here  ,  here  and  here  .

There is a vehicle visible outside the window behind Biden in the oval office, as seen in these clips from MSNBC ( here ) and PBS News Hour ( here ) . However, the vehicle does not look like a tank, rather a truck, and there is no evidence to suggest that this vehicle’s presence proves a military takeover.

TRUMP WALKS BY IN BACKGROUND

The posts allege that former President Trump can be seen out of the window walking behind the Oval Office in a video of Biden signing executive orders.

The screenshots appear to be taken from this Ruptly video   here  (timestamp 14:21). In the Ruptly video, as well as the official White House video ( here ), someone can be seen in the window walking past. The quality of the video means Reuters was not able to identify the person walking past but they appear to be wearing a lanyard which bounces up from their chest as they walk, something unlikely for an outgoing president.

The footage was taken on Jan. 20 on the day of Biden’s inauguration. On that day outgoing President Trump flew in Marine One to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida ( here ) . He can be seen flying off to Florida on Air Force One here  , and arriving in Palm Beach here and here . Reuters and Associated Press photos of Trump at Palm Beach international airport can be seen here  ,  here and here  . As of Jan. 25, Trump had made no public appearances since flying to Florida  here .

BACKGROUND IN PICTURE WINDOWS

The social media posts claim that the background seen out of the windows behind Biden is not the same as the background seen behind Trump when he was president.

Just as in the photo of Trump in the social media posts   here  , a tree branch can be seen in the middle window behind Biden and a bush is visible in the right-hand window (see Reuters photos   here  and  here  ). The photo of Trump appears to have been taken at a time of year when there are more leaves on the trees.

Sometimes the White House gardens are redesigned: the Rose Garden, onto which one of the oval office doors leads, was redesigned by the former First Lady Melania Trump in August 2020 (  here   ,   here   ).

DARKENED WINDOWS

The post claims that the windows are always darkened in Biden’s oval office, suggesting that they are trying to hide what is outside.

However, there is light coming in through the windows behind Biden and the White House gardens can be seen out of the windows in Reuters photos   here  and   here  , as well as in video footage   here  ,  here  ,  here  and  here  .

The photos showing darker windows behind Biden were likely taken at darker times of day.

BIDEN SIGNING BLANK PIECES OF PAPER

The posts claim that Biden was signing blank pieces of paper but the green folders are executive orders, as reported on the White House official website   here  , by Reuters   here  , and by other news outlets  here  ,  here   ,  here  .

It is clear that the papers are not blank as writing can be seen on the pages in this CNBC footage  here   and White House video   here  . 

NEW RUG

The posts claim that the change in color of rug on the floor of the oval office is proof that it is not the real oval office.

The Oval Office is the formal working space for the president, and most new presidents choose new drapery, furniture and carpets when they enter, as well as art and artifacts from the White House collection, museums and collectors ( here ). Different Oval Office decors over time can be seen   here  .

Biden made some changes to the Oval Office décor, as explained in news reports   here  ,  here   and   here  .

Biden changed the rug, which is common practice for incoming presidents and does not mean the Oval Office is fake: while Trump had a cream rug, Biden has adopted a Clinton-era dark blue rug with a floral trim (   here  ,   here  ).

The rug in Biden’s new office can be seen  here  and  here  . Trump’s cream coloured rug can be seen  here  . The two can be seen next to each other in this tweet  here   . The cream-colored rug during Barack Obama’s administration can be seen  here  .

NEW WALLPAPER

The posts claim that the wallpaper in Biden’s Oval Office does not match the wallpaper in Trump’s Oval Office, meaning that Biden’s office must be fake.

Although Biden would have been within his rights to change the wallpaper, as explained above, he has not changed the wallpaper: the wallpaper in Biden’s oval office can be seen in Reuters photos  here  and   here  and Trump’s matching wallpaper can be seen   here   and  here  . The photo in the social media posts of Trump in the Oval Office with stripped wallpaper was taken before he carried out renovations in 2017: the wallpaper before renovations can be seen  here  and  here  , and after renovations   here  and  here .Former president Obama also had stripped wallpaper, as seen  here   .

VERDICT

False. None of the so-called evidence presented in the social media posts proves that Biden’s Oval Office is fake.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work   here   .

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