With former President Donald Trump’s potential indictment looming and civil unrest a real possibility, a woke journalist decided to stir the pot by creating AI generated images of what his arrest could look like.
Reporter Eliot Higgins, who founded investigative site Bellingcat, used an AI image generator to create alarmingly realistic looking photos that included Trump being tackled to the ground by New York Police Department officers, chased down the street as he runs for freedom, and sitting in a holding cell.
Higgins used the Midjourney v5, an AI image-synthesis service, which is able to produce a photorealistic level of image quality that users have described as “creepy” and “too perfect.”
Some of the images of Trump’s fake arrest were so authentic looking, that fake Twitter posts convinced social media users the 45th president had actually been arrested on Tuesday morning in Manhattan.
“Your pictures are currently on the frontpage of Europe’s biggest tabloid,” a Twitter user stated.
“Legit thought these were real,” someone else noted.
The NYPD was forced to issue a statement that “Donald Trump has not been taken into custody by the New York City Police Department,” hours later.
The Associated Press also confirmed that Higgins had used the text-to-image generator to create the photos using the prompt, “Donald Trump falling over while getting arrested. Fibonacci Spiral. News footage.”
“The Trump arrest image was really just casually showing both how good and bad Midjourney was at rendering real scenes, like the first image has Trump with three legs and a police belt,” Higgins told the outlet in an emailed statement.
“I had assumed that people would realize Donald Trump has two legs, not three, but that appears not to have stopped some people passing them off as genuine, which highlights that lack of critical thinking skills in our educational system,” he snarked.
Higgins was criticized online for the fake news frenzy. “Not sure if anyone who wants to offer reliable information should just post such AI-generated images for the fun of it,” a fellow reporter pointed out.
“As you know best, disinformation already kills people.”
“All too real,” added a radio host. “Imagine fakes spread in a country that has limited or restricted access to information.”
“We should really be putting watermarks on these that disclose they are AI generated and not real,” tweeted writer Matt Karolian.
Higgins created the first set of images on Monday, which began with four separate shots of Trump trying being wrestled to the ground by the NYPD.
“Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump’s arrest,” he captioned the initial thread.
Another set included Trump running in a suit while NYPD officers chased him, Donald Trump Jr. confronting police in riot gear, and Melania Trump screaming at officers.
The AI then went on to depict Trump sitting solitary in a holding cell and the trial process, which included Ivanka Trump sitting stoically in all black, both Trump Jr. and Eric Trump sobbing, while Melania laughed with a glass of wine in her hand.
In Higgins’ AI world, Trump is convicted of violating campaign donation rules and surrenders to authorities. He is portrayed signing himself into jail and trading his suit in for a prison uniform.
In Trump’s depicted life in jail, he mops floors, scrubs bathrooms, reads in his cell, plays basketball in the prison yard, works out in the gym, and eats with other inmates.
Higgins final set of images sees Trump escaping from prison by digging his way out and emerging into the outside world through the sewers.
At one point, he runs past a McDonald’s with still in his orange jump suit, goes in and orders, then sits with his head in his hands at a table amongst food wrappers.
Reports on Tuesday claimed that prosecutors in Trump’s federal criminal investigation had generated “sufficient” evidence to prove that the former president had “intentionally concealed” that classified material was located in his Mar-a-Lago home from his own lawyers.
U.S. Judge Beryl Howell, who was overseeing the case and stepped down on Friday, wrote that special counsel Jack Smith’s office had made the impression that Trump had “committed criminal violations,” which invalidated his attorney-client privilege with lawyer Evan Corcoran.
In the sealed filing, she ordered Corcoran to give testimony to a grand jury and turn over records that she claimed were tied to Trump’s “criminal scheme.”
Trump campaign slammed Howell in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday. “Shame on Fake News ABC for broadcasting ILLEGALLY LEAKED false allegations from a Never Trump, now former chief judge, against the Trump legal team.”
“The real story here, that Fake News ABC SHOULD be reporting on, is that prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever,” a spokesperson commented.