NBC News spotted an oddity in the latest financial disclosure report from President Trump: It shows that first lady Melania Trump earned at least $100,000 in 2017 from certain photos used in mainstream news outlets. The story breaks it down: Melania Trump has posed for nearly 200 photos by Belgian photographer Regine Mahaux since 2010, often with her husband and son Barron. Those photos are available for a fee at Getty Images, and at least a dozen media outlets have used them over the years—including NBC News, Fox News, Yahoo News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, and the Daily Mail. The kicker: Getty stipulates that the photos can be used only for positive coverage.
When NBC reporters contacted reps at the various news organizations, including their own, they generally found that the outlets were unaware of the fine print stipulating positive coverage and had no idea royalties were going to the Trumps. Yahoo, for example, took down a photo in question. "We were not aware of this specific arrangement with Getty nor was our editorial influenced by it," it says in a statement. "We have removed the image from Yahoo Lifestyle." The whole thing is odd on two fronts, notes Vox: First, that "news organizations would use photographs that came with any strings attached to its coverage—though it's not clear how closely that rule was followed." And second, that someone other than a celebrity would be receiving royalties from photos of them, particularly a first lady. (Read more Melania Trump stories.)