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Weinstein Wasn’t a Medal of Freedom Recipient


Quick Take

A doctored image spread on Facebook erroneously shows former President Barack Obama giving Harvey Weinstein the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The actual photo showed Obama bestowing the honor upon former Vice President Joe Biden.


Full Story 

Amid the criminal trial of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein — and his Feb. 24 conviction on sexual assault and rape charges — a doctored image circulated on Facebook, falsely suggesting that Weinstein was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The bogus image erroneously shows former President Barack Obama awarding Weinstein with the nation’s highest civilian honor. In reality, Weinstein was never among the recipients of the medal during the Obama administration.

Many of the recent posts spreading the fake photo used the image to defend President Donald Trump’s decision to give the medal to conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who received the honor during Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

For all the Democrats complaining about President Trump giving Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Honor look who Obama bestowed that honor to !!!!!!!” one Facebook post reads.

Reverse image searches of the Weinstein picture lead to a Getty Images photo of then-Vice President Joe Biden receiving the medal in early 2017. Key details of the original image — such as Obama’s facial expression, the position of his hand, and Biden’s tie — make clear that Weinstein’s face was edited into the picture.

The false photo has been in rotation for some time — it has been grouped with other altered, fake images involving Anthony Weiner and Bill Cosby — despite fact-checking by other organizations, such as Snopes and PolitiFact.

Weinstein was a longtime Democratic donor who backed Obama and wielded considerable social status. He visited the White House in 2013, for example, for an event for high school students that centered on careers in film. The Obamas’ eldest daughter also interned for Weinstein’s company.

In October 2017, following the publication of investigative news reports by the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, Obama released a statement saying he and Michelle Obama were “disgusted by the recent reports” and that “[a]ny man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status.”

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

D.A. Vance: Harvey Weinstein Convicted at Trial.” Press release, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. 24 Feb 2020.

Gittens, Hasani. “President Barack Obama Honors Joe Biden With Surprise Medal of Freedom.” NBC News. 12 Jan 2017.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom.” Obama White House. Accessed 25 Feb 2020.

Shabad, Rebecca. “Obama speaks out on Harvey Weinstein allegations.” CBS News. 10 Oct 2017.