Having pulled ads in several battleground TV markets following a period of big summer spending, the Trump campaign could be in a cash-poor position with the most intense period of the election still to come. Perhaps that’s why the fundraising arm of the campaign, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, used an image that is available for free on Shutterstock for an ad that ran the week of September 11, encouraging Americans to “support our troops.” The only problem with the frugal approach was that the picture is of a MiG-29, a Russian plane, as Politico reported:
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, confirmed in an interview with Politico that the planes are MiG-29s, first flown in the Soviet Union in 1977 as the answer to the American F-15 and F-16. The plane has also been sold to American adversaries such as Iran and North Korea. Pukhov also noted that the solider on the far right is carrying an AK-74, an update to the Kalashnikov that has been used against American forces in every conflict since Vietnam.
It’s not uncommon for campaigns, PACs, and other political actors to incorrectly source images from other countries in their messaging. In July, an ad run by the Trump campaign purported to show a police officer under assault in the “chaos & violence” of the summer’s demonstrations, when the photo was actually from a 2014 pro-democracy protest in Ukraine. But basic campaign strategy suggests that Trump would want to avoid running any images in which his name sits below images of the Russian military, considering that his lawyer has been working with an active Russian agent to smear Joe Biden, that he was recently marred by corroborated reports that he called American war dead “suckers” and “losers,” and that he reportedly did not take action for months after learning that Russia was offering bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan.