A meme that started making the rounds after French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the White House has people giving a big thumbs up a renowned primatologist.
The meme shows President Trump brushing something — likely dandruff — off Macron’s suit along with a Jane Goodall quote.
“When the aging gorilla is confronted with the much more virile, new alpha-male, he shows submissiveness by grooming the alpha-male, but the gesture is actually a vain attempt by the old gorilla to humiliate his much younger rival.”— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) April 24, 2018
— Jane Goodall
"When the aging gorilla is confronted with the much more virile, new alpha-male, he shows submissiveness by grooming the alpha-male, but the gesture is actually a vain attempt by the old gorilla to humiliate his much younger rival."
It seems like Goodall threw some epic shade at Trump, but it’s not quite that cut and dry.
Was the Jane Goodall quote about gorillas a diss at Trump?
Like is the case with many memes, the quote attributed to Goodall isn’t exactly the whole truth.
Goodall is famous for working with chimpanzees, not gorillas — and Snopes couldn’t find the quote attributed to Goodall anywhere, online or off.
She has, however, compared Trump’s "swaggering" style to chimpanzees.
"When chimps are competing for dominance, they do a lot of blustering, swaggering, and intimidation," Goodall told Jezebel.
She doubled down on the comment in an interview with The Atlantic. "In many ways, the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals," she said during the 2016 election.
"In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: Stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position."
Did anyone compare Donald Trump to a gorilla?
It doesn’t seem that way.
Snopes also looked at comments made by another primatologist that’s often mistaken for Goodall: Dian Fossey. The myth-busting site couldn’t find any similar quote by Fossey anywhere.
And even if there was, it wouldn’t be in reference to Trump: Fossey was founded murdered in Rwanda in 1985.
So while Trump might show some similarities to a chimp, there aren’t any "official" comparisons made by any expert in the primate world. The Jane Goodall quote on Trump is a generous stretch on the truth at best — and a complete fabrication at worst.