Pundits Collectively Lose It Over A Quote Obama Didn’t Even Say

President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference after meeting with Gov. Rick Perry in Dallas about immigration on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Many pundits on Thursday were shocked by the gall of President Obama to say that he doesn’t “do photo-ops,” a mere day after glossy, White House-sanctioned shots surfaced of him sipping beer and shooting pool with the Colorado governor.

Except he didn’t actually say that, manifold distortions notwithstanding. Here’s what Obama actually said Wednesday night when defending his decision to not visit the U.S.-Mexico border.

This isn’t theater. This is a problem. I’m not interested in photo-ops; I’m interested in solving a problem. And those who say I should visit the border, when you ask them what should we be doing, they’re giving us suggestions that are embodied in legislation that I’ve already sent to Congress. So it’s not as if they’re making suggestions that we’re not listening to. In fact, the suggestions of those who work at the border, who visited the border, are incorporated in legislation that we’re already prepared to sign the minute it hits my desk.

“Gotcha,” the critics cried in unison.

Soon, Twitter was flooded with the work of White House photographer Pete Souza. There was Obama embracing the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May. And there was Obama at the center of a mob of excited kids.

Of course, this response would have been much stronger had Obama actually expressed an aversion to all photo-ops rather than a narrow objection to a photo-op at the border, which has seen a recent surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America.

But if you learned of Obama’s remark from various journalists and commentators, you might be left with the wrong impression.

“File under disingenuous: Obama, fresh from photo op playing pool & sipping beer w/Hickelooper in Denver, says ‘I don’t do photo ops,'” Real Clear Politics editor Tom Bevan tweeted, prompting a shake of the head from Dana Perino, the former White House press secretary under George W. Bush and a current Fox News personality.

The “I don’t do photo-ops” meme has been persistent.

CNN’s John King acknowledged Thursday that it’s “not like the President is averse to all photo-ops” — right before he misquoted what Obama said about photo-ops.

“So it is hard for the president, on the one hand, to say ‘I don’t do photo-ops,’ when he’s doing a lot of photo ops,” King said.

The hosts on “Fox & Friends” were typically indignant about Obama’s apparent gaffe.

“The President — by definition, by stuff you have to do and you choose to do — you do photo-ops. When there’s a horrific school shooting in Connecticut, you show up. When there’s a terrible Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey, you meet the Republican governor and walk around in a windbreaker,” co-host Brian Kilmeade said. “And when you have a crisis on the border, how hard would it be to show up? But the President says, ‘I don’t do photo-ops.'”

Throughout Kilmeade’s breathless rant, Obama’s actual quote was displayed on the screen.

Kirsten Powers, a Fox News liberal, gave more oxygen to the misquote later on Thursday.

“There’s a very serious issue going on. It’s a serious humanitarian issue. It’s a serious crisis. And I think that, whatever side you’re on in terms of how it should be handled, the President should be engaged,” Powers said on Fox’s “Outnumbered.” “To write it off and say, ‘I don’t do photo-ops.’ Well, we know that’s not true. We know he does photo-ops.”

Update: Slate’s Dave Weigel says his tweet was meant to be a joke and that he doesn’t align himself “with the derpolanche reported by TPM.”

Latest Livewire

Notable Replies

  1. Never let the facts get in the way of a good rant and thanks Tom for actually posting the full quote.

  2. Isn’t this standard operating procedure with the GOP? They’re always mad as hell and predicting doom over something the president either didn’t say or didn’t do. President Obama says, “I love Austin” and Republicans immediately claim he hates Dallas.

  3. Morons. Never let the facts get in the way of a good outrage fit.

  4. Of course. They lose it over hundreds of insane, demonstratively untrue things all the time. They literally invent things to be outraged over.

    The GOP/teahadist base is borderline clinically insane.

  5. Do Republicans really think these chicken shit attacks actually resonate with the American public?

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

156 more replies


Avatar for lestatdelc Avatar for pluckyinky Avatar for jw1 Avatar for littlegirlblue Avatar for pearlywhite Avatar for mattinpa Avatar for deckbose Avatar for maxie Avatar for leftflank Avatar for enon Avatar for ctvoter Avatar for sandyh Avatar for frankly_my_dear Avatar for jasper Avatar for magical_panda Avatar for fitley Avatar for Marco Avatar for smokinthegotp Avatar for dnl Avatar for thunderclapnewman Avatar for Libs Avatar for lemmitellya Avatar for CommieMommie Avatar for crooks

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: