Staunch supporters of Donald Trump spent the first half of October 2016 attempting to deflect criticism of the Republican presidential nominee after a 2005 video surfaced capturing him making lewd and offensive comments about women. One of the strategies they emmployed was to downplay Trump’s comments by asserting that most men engaged in such “locker room talk” and accusing Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama of having said worse things.
For example, a misleading WikiLeaks e-mail was circulated with the claim that it documented Hillary Clinton’s using the term “sand niggers” to refer to Mulisms, and an out-of-context video of President Obama using the word “pussy” was passed around on social media.
On 12 October 2016, the web site Grabien News took this defense to another level, claiming that a 2008 video showed President Obama behaving “just as salaciously” as Trump had done in the 2005 video:
As Donald Trump weathers a storm of controversy over randy comments he made to TV celebrity reporter Billy Bush in 2005, new video to emerge from the 2008 presidential campaign shows now-President Obama appearing to behave just as salaciously.
Aboard a campaign flight, then-Senator Obama is talking on a cellphone as he arises from his seat; nearby a female reporter catches a glance of something that makes her uncomfortable, sending her skirmishing to the back of the plane.
Obama, rather than downplay the awkward display, instead plays it up, positioning himself so the gathered reporters have little choice but to take in his chauvinistic performance.
Meanwhile, a female voice can be heard ordering everyone to sit down, ostensibly so they can get a better look. The gathered female reporters laugh at the scene, further encouraging Obama’s bawdy behavior.
The video, originally shot by CNN cameras, emerged Tuesday on Twitter, where it spread quickly.
While Grabien News’ interpretation of this video was amusing, they provided no actual proof for anything they claimed. The video is too grainy to tell if it actually captured Barack Obama sporting an erection, and there’s no evidence in the video that the female reporter was “uncomfortable,” that Obama lifted his leg as a “chauvinistic” display, or that people were told to sit down so they could “get a better look.”
Grabien News saw what they wanted to see in the video — an erection — and then invented the emotions and subsequent actions of passengers on the plane in order to fit their narrative. Other viewers may see nothing out of the ordinary in Obama’s pants, a small object in his pocket, or an embarrassing bunch-up of cloth. The video is open to some interpretation, it is certainly not hard evidence that Barack Obama “flaunted” his erection to female supporters.
According to Getty Images, the above-displayed video was taken on 7 May 2008 as Obama boarded his campaign plane at Midway Airport. The captions included with those photographs, taken by Mark Wilson, simply stated that Obama was talking on his phone as the plane boarded:
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) talks on his cell phone as he boards his campaign plane at Midway Airport en-route to Washington DC, May 7, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. Senator Obama won the North Carolina Primary beating Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and lost Indiana primary to Clinton by a small margin. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
It should also be noted that this video has been circulating since at least 2008, when it was used to smear then-Senator Obama during his first presidential campaign. The web site Obambi was one of the first to share the video along with the baseless claim that it depicted Obama with an erection. Ironically, back then Obambi posted the video along with an exhortation to vote for Hillary Clinton:
Regards Obama’s erection. I’ve seen middle school boys handle this with more decorum. This type of behavior is juvenile and just one more example of Obama’s exhibiting poor judgement.
Please, we have an admittedly flawed but exceedingly superior woman whom we could run against McCain.
I love Senator McCain, I really do. I’m an Arizonan. But change is what we need. The only woman who could deliver that for us right now is Senator Hillary Clinton. A classy lady. America will never opt for a classless Obama.
We examined the video and tried to find screenshots where Obama’s “erection” was most visible, but we came up empty-handed. While some viewers may argue that a bulge is visible in Obama’s pants, there’s no definitive evidence that the future president had an erection, and certainly nothing to suggest that he “flaunted” his manhood in front of female reporters.