Fact Check

Did the President of Finland Post a Video Response to His White House Visit?

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö was the focus of many memes and jokes after holding a joint press conference with President Trump at the White House.

Published Oct. 7, 2019

 (Rob Paulsen)
Image courtesy of Rob Paulsen
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Finnish President Sauli Niinistö posted a video after his White House visit saying that he'd rather hang around reindeer than Donald Trump.

On Oct. 2, 2019, a joint press conference at the White House with U.S. President Donald Trump and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland spiraled out of control as reporters began questioning President Trump about a recent whistleblower complaint and an ongoing impeachment investigation. Shortly after the fiery media event, a video began circulating on social media which supposedly showed the Finnish president relaying a few of his thoughts about his White House visit:

This video does not feature Finnish president Sauli Niinistö, but rather actor Rob Paulsen, best known for voicing the character of Pinky on show "Pinky and the Brain."

Paulsen first shared this video to his social media pages, and while his fans almost certainly knew that this clip featured Paulsen doing a Finnish accent, it was later shared on Twitter and Facebook with no mention of the actor's name -- leading some people to believe that the Finnish president actually said "as much as I love your country I prefer the company of reindeer and snow":

Paulsen wasn't the only one who tried to imagine what was going on in the Finnish president's head during his joint press conference at the White House. A number of internet users posted jokes and memes about the perceived political awkwardness at the media event, and CBS News reported of the event that:

President Trump dominated the headlines with a heated press conference, during which he called Congressman Adam Schiff a "lowlife," doubled down on his attacks against the whistleblower, and threatened to sue several people. Caught in the crossfire between Mr. Trump and the reporters at the White House was the visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, who spent much of the event sidelined beside Mr. Trump.

Niinistö, however, emerged from the crucible to win praise for the way he handled it. And because Americans can't resist using social media to express their feelings, Niinistö also got the meme treatment.

"Finnish President doing a Jim from The Office," one person wrote, referring to the mockumentary character's signature stare into the camera — often used to say, without words, "I can't believe what I'm witnessing right now," or "get me out of here."

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O'Kane, Caitlin.   "Finnish President Receives Praise -- And Inspires Memes – After Fiery Trump Press Conference."     CBS News.   3 October 2019.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.