A former White House photographer has been trolling Donald Trump with pictures of his predecessor since he took office in 2017. But the Obama-era White House photographer Pete Souza reportedly isn't doing it for the laughs — he's trying to make a point. In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN's The Lead, Souza said Friday that he was motivated to troll Trump with snaps of Obama because Trump does "too many things" that are "not normal for a president to be doing."
"I don't want people to forget the first 500 days of the Trump administration, which is what this represents, and all the craziness that happened," Souza told Tapper when asked what he wanted people to take away from his social media sharing and his new book, Shade. "I'm also trying to correct some of his lies and falsehoods with photographic proof — whether it be the inauguration day crowd, whether it be him saying that Obama did nothing about Russian meddling and here's the meeting where Obama confronted Putin."
Indeed, many of Souza's social media posts — including this recent one highlighting Obama's interactions with troops — have been direct responses to things President Trump has said, tweeted, or done. But Souza said he never imagined he'd be spending his post White House years regularly throwing shade at the next person to work in the Oval Office.
"I never would have expected that I would be doing this," he said. "If John McCain or Mitt Romney had been president, I wouldn't be doing this because they respected the Office of the Presidency and that's what we don't see from this president."
While Souza, who also photographed Republican Ronald Reagan's presidency, previously considered himself to be apolitical, he told Tapper that Trump changed him. "I think what's changed me is... he disrespects the office of the presidency and he disrespects other people," Souza said. "He bullies people, he lies, he calls you guys 'the enemy of the people,' he doesn't believe our own intelligence agencies, he trashes his own attorney general, and what he calls 'his Justice Department.' There's just too many things that is not normal for a president to be doing."
Despite his photographic commentary of the Trump administration, which he's gathered together in his new book Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents, Souza said he's tried to be respectful in his criticism of Trump. "I'm having some fun. I think, especially on Instagram, I'm trying to inject some humor," he said. "And I'm trying to be somewhat respectful too in the way that I criticize, and certainly I think I'm being more respectful than he is on Twitter."
Shade hit bookshelves in October. It juxtaposes a number of photographs Souza snapped during Obama's presidency with tweets, quotes, and news headlines pulled from Trump's first 500 days in office as a means of commentating on American politics and the office of the president.
"Some call this 'throwing shade,' a description for Shade on Amazon noted. "Souza calls it telling the truth."