Half-truths in the White House half-staff flag controversy
Memes like this one suggest Obama lowered the American flag to mourn Whitney Houston, but did "nothing" to honor the victims of the Chattanooga, Tenn. shooting on July 16. (Image collected from social media posts) Memes like this one suggest Obama lowered the American flag to mourn Whitney Houston, but did "nothing" to honor the victims of the Chattanooga, Tenn. shooting on July 16. (Image collected from social media posts)

Memes like this one suggest Obama lowered the American flag to mourn Whitney Houston, but did "nothing" to honor the victims of the Chattanooga, Tenn. shooting on July 16. (Image collected from social media posts)

Linda Qiu
By Linda Qiu July 22, 2015

You’ve probably seen outraged social media posts and headlines about the White House flag lately, most of which go something like this: President Barack Obama ordered the White House flag to fly at half-staff to mourn Whitney Houston’s death, but failed to do so for the five soldiers slain in Chattanooga, Tenn.

This perceived breach of flag etiquette sparked a flurry of memes on the Internet and jabs on the campaign trail, particularly among conservatives and GOP presidential hopefuls Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump. Fox News columnist Todd Starnes suggested the race of the victims was a factor in Obama not lowering the flag.

Did Obama really lower the White House flag for Whitney Houston? And was it unusual for him not to lower to half-staff in honor of the fallen servicemen?

Click here to read what PunditFact found.

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

Interview with Mike Buss, Iowa program director at The American Legion, July 21, 2015

Interview with John Harvigsen, president of the North American Vexillological Association, July 21, 2015

Interview with Jim Ferrigan, protocol officer of the North American Vexillological Association, July 21, 2015

Interview with Al Ulmer, owner of the National Capitol Flag Company, July 21, 2015

Email interview with Gary Biggs, founding partner at the Protocol Partners, July 21, 2015

Speaker of the House, ‘House of Representatives to Honor Five Service Members Killed in Chattanooga, Flags Fly at Half-Staff,’ July 21, 2015

White House, ‘Presidential Proclamation -- Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Chattanooga, Tennessee,’ July 21, 2015

Fox News, ‘Obama orders flags lowered to honor Tennessee victims, after criticism,’ July 21, 2015

Twitter, Ted Cruz tweet, July 21, 2015

Facebook, Donald J.  Trump post, July 21, 2015

Fox News, ‘Todd Starnes: Do the right thing, Mr. President — lower the flag,’ July 20, 2015

Twitter, Curt Schilling, July 20, 2015

Snopes, Flag Flap, July 19, 2015

Snopes, Flag Flap, February 13, 2014

Snopes, Greene Report, March 19, 2015

USA Today, ‘Chris Christie criticized for Whitney Houston flag plan,’ Feb. 12, 2016

Politico, ‘White House mourns Whitney Houston’, Feb. 13, 2012

Cornell University Law School, 4 U.S. Code § 7 - Position and manner of display, accessed July 21, 2015

HalfStaff.Org, United States of America Half Staff Status, July 21, 2015

White House, various proclamations, accessed July 21, 2015

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Linda Qiu

Half-truths in the White House half-staff flag controversy