Misleading memes about U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., continue to give our readers pause.
We’ve twice debunked wild posts claiming Bachmann said Jesus wrote the Bible in English and that she said President Barack Obama might be responsible for the April Fort Hood, Texas, shooting spree. Both quotes were made up, so they got our Pants on Fire rating.
Recently, a reader asked us to investigate a third post, a screenshot of Bachmann in mid speech with a quote overlay.
"The nation has gotten away from the principles of the founding fathers under the failed leadership of Barack Obama. This country could use a president like Benjamin Franklin again," the posts quotes Bachmann as saying on Fox News on May 28.
If this were a baseball game, we’d call "strike three!" Yes, Bachmann is no fan of Obama. Yes, she is known to bring up the founding fathers, sometimes to controversial ends.
But no, she did not remember iconic American Ben Franklin as a past president. Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, served as the nation’s first postmaster general and later as U.S. ambassador to France. But he was never president.
A search of transcripts and news stories for the quote came up dry.
Bachmann spokesman Dat Kotman said she did not even appear on Fox that day, and we could not find any evidence that she did.
As if the meme weren't fishy enough, the screenshot is also the backdrop for the fake quote about Fort Hood. It’s originally from Bachmann’s June 2013 interview on Fox News’ Hannity when she discussed her decision to leave Congress at the end of her term in January 2015. The post appears to track back to a satirical group called "Christians for Michele Bachmann."
Bachmann did extol Franklin in a high-profile address, but she did not refer to him as a president. She referenced Franklin twice in a speech announcing that she was abandoning her 2012 presidential bid.
Bachmann alluded to a painting by Howard Chandler Christy of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, which hangs in a stairway in the Capitol’s House wing. She remembers seeing the painting, with its reminder of the "connection we have to the principles of freedom and justice," on the night she decided to seek the Oval Office. Benjamin Franklin is seated distinctly in the center of the painting, one of the most visible figures in a sea of powdered wigs.
"But never was the painting's reminder more poignant than on the evening of March 21, 2010, the day Obamacare was passed," Bachmann said. "Staring out from the painting is the face of Ben Franklin as a consistent reminder of the fragile Republic he and the founders gave to us."
She did not refer to him as a past president then, and we could not find other examples of her mistaking him for a president.
A meme claims that Bachmann said, "This country could use a president like Benjamin Franklin again." This quote is made up.
Bachmann wasn't on TV the night of her alleged remarks and we could find no reference of her claiming Franklin was president. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.