Fact Check

Plan Launches to Make Obama Addition to Mount Rushmore

After Harriet Tubman's addition to the $20 bill was announced, a spurious old rumor recirculated claiming that President Obama's likeness is being added to Mount Rushmore.

Published Apr 21, 2016

US Presidents, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. South Dakota, USA
US Presidents, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. South Dakota, USA
The likeness of President Obama will be added to Mount Rushmore.

On 20 April 2016, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced that that a portrait of African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman would replace that President Andrew Jackson on the front of the U.S. $20 bill. Not long after that announcement was made, the Facebook page "American News" shared a post claiming that plans were afoot to add President Barack Obama to Mount Rushmore:


Those who clicked through to the post might have noticed it was dated 19 November 2014, and barely of relevance even back then. Even though the headline proclaimed that President Obama was being "considered" as an addition to the Mount Rushmore monument, the body of the article noted that such consideration was nothing more than one person's "ridiculous" position:

According to one of Obama’s supporters, Obama deserves to have a spot next to Washington and Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. You heard that right. According to Jim Messina, Obama is “no question ... one of the all-time great presidents.”

Messian justifies his ridiculous position with claims that Obama “walked into the toughest economic situation in several generations. Made tough choices to fix it, took on an incredibly unpopular and difficult fight on healthcare, put all of his political chips on the line, passed it, continued to go on, and have a successful presidency.”

As the scant reporting revealed, no plans were truly afoot to add President Obama's likeness to Mount Rushmore (either in 2014 or 2016). The entire premise of the item was based on a statement purportedly made by former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina (misspelled as "Messian") which had nothing to do with Mount Rushmore. No source was provided for Messina's commentary, and it wasn't even clear that he mentioned the monument in his lauding of President Obama.

Even if Messina had supported such a change, one man's spoken opinion was in no way tantamount to an actual effort to add President Obama to Mount Rushmore. American News routinely renders outdated, misleading, or otherwise inaccurate material as clickbait headlines. Among their previous misleading or outright false items were claims that Texans were being forced to pay reparations for slavery, that Canada banned Beyonce over her Super Bowl 2016 performance, that President Obama personally prohibited a Navy Admiral from distributing Bibles, that FEMA opened its "first" concentration camp in Arizona, that Sadie Robertson was gravely injured in a serious car accident, that Americans were seriously debating the merits of "post-birth abortion," and that President Obama had admitted to forging his birth certificate.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.