A number of journalists and news outlets felt the need to make clear Wednesday that President Donald Trump had not actually awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to a dog.
In an afternoon tweet, Trump shared an altered photo that showed him honoring Conan, a U.S. Army dog that was hurt Saturday in an U.S. operation that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in his Syrian compound.
In a followup tweet that evening, Trump thanked The Daily Wire for the “recreation” of the Medal of Honor ceremony and announced that Conan would be visiting the White House next week.
Thank you Daily Wire. Very cute recreation, but the “live” version of Conan will be leaving the Middle East for the White House sometime next week! https://t.co/Z1UfhxsSpT
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2019
However, in between the two tweets, would-be fact-checkers pounced.
Voice of America’s White House bureau chief Steve Herman announced on Twitter that he had launched a full-blown investigation into the matter.
I've requested details from the @WhiteHouse on this photo.
There was no such canine event on today's @POTUS schedule but there is a Medal of Honor ceremony set here for later today for an active duty Green Beret. https://t.co/NESINT9J4b
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) October 30, 2019
The New York Times ran a story headlined, “Trump Tweets Faked Photo of Hero Dog Getting a Medal.”
The two-person reporting team found that the Daily Caller had edited a 2017 photo of Trump “awarding a Medal of Honor to James C. McCloughan, a retired Army medic who is credited with saving the lives of 10 men during the war in Vietnam.”
“Trump tweeted a photo of a Medal of Honor recipient — who was edited out and replaced by Conan the dog,” the Washington Post blared.
Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffrey accused Trump of “S—ting on the vets again, but in a whole new way.”
Shitting on the vets again, but in a whole new way https://t.co/uypF7TS2bq
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) October 30, 2019
However, when the Times reporters contacted McCloughan and showed him the meme for the first time, they found he was “certainly was not offended and laughed when he compared the two images.”
“After all, he said, Medal of Honor recipients accept on behalf of their entire teams, especially those that did not return from battle,” The Times reported. “And canines have long been part of war efforts.”
In defense of giving Conan the Medal of Honor
The backlash to the backlash was swift. Pro-Trump meme-maker Carpe Donktum joined a dog pile on Voice of America’s Herman.
Steve Herman… Meme Detective
Good lord you people are lame. https://t.co/3mkLA1Gvg2
— Carpe Donktum? (@CarpeDonktum) October 30, 2019
Townhall writer Julio Rosas named and shamed Mother Jones’ Jeffrey and other “offended” Twitter users.
Hilarious watching people get offended on behalf of the Medal of Honor recipient who was photoshoped out of the meme Trump tweeted, only to have the recipient himself think it was funny. pic.twitter.com/QClgWIxIQF
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) October 30, 2019
Allah Pundit was in disbelief.
I cannot believe he’s being dinged by serious media for this obvious goof https://t.co/B33uvBEj3O
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) October 30, 2019
Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro compared the Times article to previous media scandals over conservative satire.
“There is simply no way to take the media seriously when they fact check obvious jokes,” he said.
There is simply no way to take the media seriously when they fact-check obvious jokes. No one thinks Trump actually gave a medal to a dog. No one actually thinks Allie Stuckey interviewed AOC. No one actually believes the Babylon Bee is non-satire. https://t.co/2hFfkpBwC6
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) October 31, 2019
Even left-wing journalist Yashar Ali called the fact-checkers “ridiculous.”
Is this a joke? It’s clearly a silly photoshop and it has the Daily Wire watermark on it…
The level of seriousness some members of the Washington press corps have treated this with has been ridiculous pic.twitter.com/KNcaHok7Pz
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) October 30, 2019
Trump’s most diehard critics have long faulted him for allegedly not liking dogs. They have cited as evidence his lack of a family pet and his use of canine-themed insults, including during Sunday’s White House address announcing Baghdadi’s death.
“He died like a dog,” Trump said of the terrorist. “He died like a coward.”
However, on Sunday, the president repeatedly credited the real-life dogs who helped U.S. troops pull off the raid. He said they had “chased down” Baghdadi, forcing him to detonate a suicide vest. While no U.S. personnel were wounded, Trump said, one “beautiful” and “talented” service dog had been injured.
On Monday, Trump tweeted a declassified picture he said was of the “wonderful” dog that did “such a GREAT JOB” in Saturday’s mission. It was only on Wednesday that he revealed the dog’s name is Conan.
Citing a senior Pentagon source, Newsweek reported Thursday that Conan was named after talk show host Conan O’Brien. The dog was hurt after being exposed to live electrical cables but has returned to active duty, according to the Pentagon.