It's the most wonderful time of the year ... for fake news
It’s the most wonderful time of the year … for fake news.
As First Lady Melania Trump unveiled this year’s White House Christmas decorations on Twitter Monday morning, some of her followers celebrated by reigniting previously debunked rumors that former President Barack Obama banned Nativity scenes from the White House last year.
“The Nativity Scene was removed when the American hating Obama’s [sic] were disgracing our White House along with our country,” one Twitter user claimed.
Obama critics even rejected photo proof of the Nativity scene on display in the Obama White House last year.
“That photo looks like if they took it in the storage where the nativity sits,” one tweeter said. “That’s why Trump won.”
In reality, a Nativity scene was on display at the White House during every holiday season of Obama’s eight-year presidency, Snopes.com reported in December 2016 in response to claims to the contrary. The official White House model depicting the birth of Jesus Christ, known as the White House Crèche, has been displayed in the East Room during the holiday season every year since 1967.
The lies about Obama, a Christian, and the Nativity scene recirculated around this same time last year, and similar claims were made nearly every year Obama was in office, according to Snopes.
The misinformation goes hand-in-hand with the idea — often pushed by Fox News and other conservative outlets and pundits in recent years — that “liberals” like Obama are waging a “War on Christmas.”
“People who believe Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like ‘Happy Holidays’ as (liberal) insults to Christianity,” The New York Times said in a piece examining the phenomenon last December. The Times also noted the controversy surrounding Starbucks’ use of secular seasonal cup designs over traditional Christmas greetings.
President Donald Trump railed against the so-called “War on Christmas” repeatedly on the campaign trail last year, promising that he would “bring back” the phrase “Merry Christmas” if elected.
“When was the last time you saw ‘Merry Christmas’? You don’t see it anymore,” then-candidate Trump said in a campaign speech in January 2016. “They want to be politically correct. If I’m president, you will see ‘Merry Christmas’ in department stores, believe me, believe me.”
For the Trumps’ first year in the White House, the first lady designed a “Time-Honored Traditions” theme to “pay respect to 200 years of holiday traditions at the White House,” a press release from her office said.
The decorations include an homage to the first themed White House Christmas — which was the “Nutcracker Suite” in 1961 — a Christmas dinner display featuring the china from President Ronald Reagan, and the official White House Christmas tree, which is adorned with glass ornaments depicting the seal of each State and territory.
But the festive decor is not all about tradition. The press release also announced the debut of Mrs. Trump’s “signature” Christmas wreaths — quickly sparking Twitter speculation over what, exactly, makes the wreaths unique to the first lady.
Mrs. Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment about the story behind the “signature” wreaths.
Photos the first lady shared of herself decorating the White House with various coats draped over her shoulders also became the subject of ridicule on Twitter.
“When putting decorations on Christmas tree I often feel the need to casually drape a cashmere coat over my shoulders, said no one ever,” one tweeter teased of the look that’s popular among the fashion set.
Another suspected the style was more ready-to-run than ready-to-wear.
“Melania wearing a coat in her own home. Just in case she finds an opportunity to flee,” joked activist April Reign.
Even director Ava DuVernay couldn’t resist a tongue-in-cheek quip in response.
“How dare you say such a thing about these very natural looking photos highlighting her everyday behavior and organic homemaking instincts complete with cozy coat? Shame on you,” she said.