Just moments after Pope Francis landed in D.C. and was greeted by the president, right-wing media was already being sent into an irrational rage spiral over something that never happened. According to conservative outlets, President Obama had been late to greet the pope, and made his airplane circle around the airport helplessly while the affront to the Catholic leader grew worse by the minute. It’s easy to see why the story got conservatives salivating; it re-affirms all of their preconceived notions about Obama: He’s “classless,” he’s rude, he’s narcissistic.
Here’s conservative garbage dumb Breitbart breathlessly explaining Obama’s tardiness:
As Pope Francis’s plane approached the landing strip at Joint Base Andrews, the pilots were asked to wait to land, perhaps because President Obama hadn’t arrived yet to welcome him.
And Breitbart’s little brother, the Daily Caller, blasted a headline that was even more to the point:
Pope Francis’ Plane Circled In The Air Because Obama Was Late
The story, however, was complete and utter bullshit.
The pope’s plane did circle over the airport a few times, but that wasn’t because Obama overslept. Instead, the holding pattern was a routine maneuver because Francis’ plane had actually arrived early. As the Atlantic noted (after first irresponsibly speculating about Obama’s delay):
In an earlier version of this note, I reported that the reason the plane started circling was that Obama and Biden had been running late to the greeting ceremony. However, as a White House spokesman subsequently pointed out, the Pope deplaned at 4 p.m., precisely as scheduled, and the president was on hand to greet him.
Press notes record Obama meeting the pope at the steps of his plane at… 4:05 pm. His flight had been “delayed” by 5 minutes and Obama had nothing to do with it.
Despite the issue of timing being cleared up in a matter of minutes, conservative media outlets have spread the lie around with reckless abandon. Neither the Daily Caller nor Breitbart bothered to correct their mistakes (although Breitbart edited their article to soften the accusation and hoped no one would notice). Other conservative websites have since published their own versions, despite now knowing with absolute certainty that this is, in fact, a blatant lie. WND, a right-wing conspiracy site, ran with the story this morning, and noted within that while the article’s own headline was probably false, it seems like something Obama would do so spreading the lie was justified.
The story of Obama’s lateness may have gained quick traction in the press in part because of his rather lengthy record of etiquette offenses on the national and global platforms.
This from a site that once claimed it had good evidence that Obama once married a Pakistani guy he met in college…
As we’ve seen time-and-again – remember the “latte salute” faux-scandal? – conservatives hold such an irrational, directional hatred of President Obama that any story, true or false, that helps them justify it to themselves gets major traction in the right-wing media. Better to cling to a false story that lets them stay perpetually angry than grapple with a reality that makes them look like blustering idiots. And with so much rage in their hearts, is it any wonder that the ability to experience a sense of shame was the first thing to go?
Feature image via White House/Pete Souza