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Viral Posts Fabricate a ‘President Mozzarella’ Gaffe


Quick Take

Social media lit up with a false claim that President Donald Trump referred to Italian President Sergio Mattarella as “President Mozzarella.” The transcripts and videos prove he didn’t.


Full Story

A false claim that President Donald Trump called Italian President Sergio Mattarella “President Mozzarella” in a joint appearance in the Oval Office on Oct. 16 has gone viral. But it’s not true. Trump didn’t even call Mattarella by his last name during the 46-minute Oval Office visit, referring to him mostly as “the president of Italy.”

One Facebook post on the account of “Donald Trump Is Not My President” shows two photos of a wide-eyed Italian translator listening intently during the Oval Office meeting. “The look of the White House Italian translator as Trump says President Mozzarella for the Italian President and says U.S. and Italy have been allies since Ancient Rome,” reads the post, which has received 3,700 likes and 2,500 shares.

This false account of Trump’s fumbling of the Italian president’s name has gone viral across multiple social media platforms. We’ve seen the claim on Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere on Facebook.

The picture of the translator is from a joint appearance of the two presidents in the Oval Office prior to a bilateral meeting between the two countries. A White House transcript of the meeting shows that Trump did not refer to the Italian president by his last name. Instead, Trump refers to Mattarella four times as “the president of Italy” and once as “Mr. President” during his remarks.

A video of the Oval Office event can also be seen on C-SPAN.

Trump and Mattarella made multiple public appearances throughout the day, all of which were videotaped. Trump did refer to the Italian president by his last name twice during a joint press conference that was held after the Oval Office meeting. Neither time did Trump pronounce Mattarella’s name as “Mozzarella.”

Trump also referred to the Italian president by his full name twice in an evening reception in honor of the Italian Republic and Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month. But Trump properly pronounced the Italian president’s last name both times.

Some posts also distort Trump’s statements regarding ancient Rome and the alliance between the U.S. and Italy.

In his opening remarks during the joint press conference, Trump said: “The United States and Italy are bound together by a shared cultural and political heritage dating back thousands of years, to ancient Rome.” Trump said that Italy and the U.S. share a cultural and political heritage — not a formal alliance — that dates to ancient Rome.

Trump noted the long-standing alliance between the two countries in his statements throughout the day. For example, Trump said in the Oval Office meeting that the U.S. has “had a great relationship with Italy for a long time.” Trump does not mention ancient Rome in that meeting at all. 

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Donald Trump Is Not My President. “The look of the White House Italian translator as Trump says President Mozzarella for the Italian President and says U.S. and Italy have been allies since Ancient Rome.” Facebook post. 17 Oct 2019.

Keetz, Danny (@DKeetz). “The look of the White House Italian translator as Trump says President Mozzarella for the Italian President and says U.S. and Italy have been allies since Ancient Rome. Hot fucking damn.” Twitter. 16 Oct 2019.

ColoradoResister117 (@resister117). “That #trumppresser was batshit crazy. * Trump was slurring his words a lot * He made the claim that we have been allies with Italy since Ancient Rome. * He bashed NATO while praising Putin. * He called the Italian President “President Mozzarella” on multiple occasions.” Twitter. 16 Oct 2019. 

Allen, Travis (@TravisAllen02). “Trump called the Italian President “President Mozzarella” multiple times. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this point. .” Twitter. 16 Oct 2019.

President Trump Meeting With Italian President.” C-SPAN. 16 Oct 2019.

The White House. “President Trump Delivers Remarks at a Reception in Honor of the Italian Republic.” YouTube. 16 Oct 2019.

The White House. “President Trump Participates in a Joint Press Conference with the President of the Italian Republic.” YouTube. 16 Oct 2019.

The White House. “Remarks by President Trump and President Mattarella of the Italian Republic Before Bilateral Meeting.” Transcript. WhiteHouse.gov. 16 Oct 2019.

The White House. “Remarks by President Trump and President Mattarella of the Italian Republic at a Reception.” Transcript. WhiteHouse.gov. 16 Oct 2019.