Fact Check

Teddy Roosevelt on Conservatives vs. Liberals

To anger everyone, put quotations in the mouths of people who never said them.

Published June 3, 2016

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Teddy Roosevelt said that "to anger a conservative, lie to him; to anger a liberal, tell him the truth."

A quote that's commonly credited to Theodore Roosevelt on the difference between conservatives and liberals is often shared in meme form (like many unproven or out of context quotes) to bolster specific political opinions on social media. The quote, usually accompanied by a photograph of the former president looking into the middle distance, states: "To anger a conservative, lie to him.To anger a liberal, tell him the truth."

However, although dozens of sites have attributed this phrase to the former president, none has been able to provide any information about where and when Roosevelt supposedly made this remark. The quote displayed above has been in circulation since at least 2004, when it was shared in the signature of someone (not Roosevelt) posting on an online forum.

The phrase may also stem from a lengthy chain e-mail that circulated via "Airmail" in 1999:

Annoy a liberal: Ask them to tell the truth!
Annoy a liberal: Embrace the idea of private property.
Annoy Liberals: Show them the truth! Tell them the truth! Live the truth!
Annoy Liberals: Tell them it is better to cut than tax.
Annoy the liberal media: think for yourself.
Annoy the liberals: listen to Rush!

It seems in this case that — as with other quotes — someone took a pithy saying from a chain e-mail and attached a famous name and photograph to it to lend it more credence.

Honest Abe warned us this would happen:


Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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