No Obama Statue in the White House

Q: Did President Barack Obama commission a life-size bronze statue of himself to leave in the White House?

A: No. That fake news story was “intended for entertainment purposes only.”

FULL QUESTION

Did President Obama have a bronze statue made of himself to leave in the White House?

FULL ANSWER

Reports that former President Barack Obama ordered a $ 200,000 life-size bronze statue of himself to be “permanently installed in the White House” are ubiquitous, but false.

Conservative Flash News posted the story on May 21, and Facebook users have flagged it as potentially fake. The phony story has actually been around a lot longer than that.

The earliest version we found was published on Dec. 31, 2016, on EmpireNews.net, which says it is “intended for entertainment purposes only.” “Our website and social media content uses only fictional names, except in cases of public figure or celebrity parody or satirization,” the site states on its “About/Disclaimer” page.

Since then, many more sites have republished the made-up story, despite a line in the Empire News disclaimer saying its “content may not be reprinted or re-transmitted, in whole or in part, without the express written consent of the publisher.”

Only some of the posts that we saw included a link back to the story on EmpireNews.net. And only some tagged the story as “satire,” making the intent clearer to readers.

The fake story claims that Obama ordered the statue “with plans to have it permanently erected in the entryway of the White House, so that all who enter can remember me fondly.” It also says that “the statue will not be allowed to be removed,” citing a bogus White House “tradition” that “every president is allowed to leave one thing in the White House that must never be touched by future presidents.”

Versions of the story on some sites even included a photo of a statue of Obama in the White House Oval Office, but the photo is a fake, too. The Oval Office didn’t look like that when Obama was president, and the image doesn’t show the current decor, either.

The image looks to be a combination of two photos: one of a real statue of Obama outside of the Capitol building in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the other of a replica of the Oval Office commissioned by a Texas man who collects presidential memorabilia.

Officials in Puerto Rico unveiled the bronze statue of Obama and one of former President Lyndon B. Johnson on Presidents Day in 2012. They were the latest additions to the “Avenue of Heroes,” which features statues of every president who visited the U.S. territory while in office, dating to Theodore Roosevelt.

The original story on EmpireNews.net featured the real photo of the Obama statue in San Juan, not a doctored image of the White House.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.

Sources

Conservative Flash News. “Wow: Obama Ordered Life-Size Bronze Statue of Himself To Be Permanently Installed in White House.” Conservativeflashnews.com. 21 May 2017.

Bob the Empire News potato. “Obama Orders Life-Sized Bronze Statute of Himself To Be Permanently Installed in White House.” Empirenews.net. 31 Dec 2016.

Empire News. “About / Disclaimer.” Accessed 6 June 2017.

Smith, A. Michael. “WOW: Obama Orders Life-Sized Bronze Statute of Himself To Be Permanently Installed In White House.” en-volve.com. 17 Jan 2017.

The Washington Feed. “WOW: Obama Orders Life-Sized Bronze Statute of Himself To Be Permanently Installed in White House.” Washingtonfeed.com. Accessed 6 June 2016.

The White House Museum. “Oval Office.” Whitehousemuseum.org. Accessed 6 June 2017.

Iovine, Anna. “See the changes Donald Trump made to the Oval Office.” Aol.com. 30 March 2017.

Associated Press. “Puerto Rico honors Obama, LBJ visits with statues.” Yahoo.com. 20 Feb 2012.

Lapidos, Juliet. “The Off-White House: How much can an incoming president change the décor at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?” Slate.com. 21 Nov 2008.

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