FACT CHECK:   Has President Obama called for banning the display of Confederate and Tea Party flags on public property?

Claim:   President Obama has called for banning the display of Confederate and Tea Party flags on public property.

   FALSE

Example:     [Collected via Facebook, July 2015]

Did President Obama call for a ban on the Revolutionary War era Gadsden flag? I just saw this rumor on a conservative site.

Origins:     On 23 July 2015, the disreputable Washington Weekly News web site published an article reporting that during a recent address at an NAACP convention, President Obama had called for a ban on the public display of Confederate and Tea Party (i.e., Gadsden) flags on public property:

President Obama outlined an ambitious roadmap for criminal justice reform during an address at the NAACP convention Tuesday.

In a 45-minute speech, Obama called for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, reviewing the use of the solitary confinement and banning of Confederate and Tea Party Flags on public property, among other things.

“Any system that allows us to turn a blind-eye to hopelessness and despair, that’s not a justice system, that’s an injustice system,” Obama said Tuesday. “Justice is not only the absence of oppression, it’s the absence of racist, divisive symbols in our public discourse.”

The referenced event was an NAACP Conference held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on 14 July 2015, before which President Obama delivered a 45-minute speech that focused on America’s criminal justice system. However, a full transcript of President Obama’s remarks before that group is available online, and reading it reveals that he neither said nor even implied anything about banning the display of any type of flag.

A quick bit of searching reveals the reason for the discrepancy: Washington Weekly News simply ripped off Time magazine’s reporting of the same event, reproducing it verbatim but changing the latter part of one sentence from “In a 45-minute speech, Obama called for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, reviewing the use of the solitary confinement and barring employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history, among other things” to “reviewing the use of the solitary confinement and banning of Confederate and Tea Party Flags on public property, among other things.”

In other words, the Washington Weekly News offered up fake news, clickbait, and intellectual property theft, all in one tidy package.

Last updated:      27 July 2015

Originally published:    27 July 2015