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You Know That Picture You're Seeing Today of Obama With a Pirate? It's From 2009


"Arrr you in?"

If you follow the presidential candidates on Twitter, you can learn a great deal about what is important to the individuals running for the highest office in the land. And a picture posted by the president yesterday has been getting a lot of buzz. But some things arrrrrn't what they seem. We explain.

Yesterday, President Obama's official Twitter account posted this tweet:

Clicking on the link takes you to a White House photo of the President observing yesterday's International 'Talk Like A Pirate' Day.

Many have raised questions about the appropriateness of President Obama spending his valuable time in this manner, especially during a week when Americans have been killed in attacks on our embassies in the Middle East. Multiple outlets have even made it a main story this morning, suggesting Obama took the picture, and time, yesterday to celebrate National Talk Like a Pirate Day. This morning, three times during the 8 o'clock hour, "Fox and Friends" suggested that the photo was from yesterday.

However, it appears to the astute observer this photograph is not new.

First, look at President Obama's hair. We don't see a speck of gray. And lately, we've been seeing a lot of gray hair on the President's noggin.

And then there's the fact that CBS reporter Mark Knoller reported on this story in May of 2009:

What kind of unexplained policy initiative was being played out in this photo, the historian might wonder, perhaps confusing it for something other than what it was: a gag – one of dozens – for the president's remarks at the White House Correspondent's Dinner.

The joke was the idea of three top presidential aides including senior advisor David Axelrod.

They would have Mr. Obama refer to his recent meetings with world leaders.

"There I am with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso," he would say, followed by, "there I am with Gordon Brown."

But the punch line was his assertion that he was living up to his campaign pledge that "we can't just talk to our friends." And with that, up would pop the photo of President Obama with a pirate.

This was no modern-day pirate of the type that hijacks ships off the horn of Africa. It was a buccaneer in full Captain Hook regalia: knee-high boots, a cut-away coat, an eye patch and even a parrot on his shoulder.

To get a Blackbeard, you just don't look up "pirate" in the Yellow Pages, unless you're in Somalia. And even there, pirates work in plain-clothes, except for their automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

The White House needed a pirate, and it turned to speechwriter Cody Keenan. It was a role not exactly in his job description.

Mystery solved.


"Fox and Friends" has now issued a correction over the photo:

This story has been updated.

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