Stand up for the facts!

Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.

More Info

I would like to contribute

President Donald Trump awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, to Olympic gold medalist and former University of Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable on Dec. 7, 2020. (AP) President Donald Trump awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, to Olympic gold medalist and former University of Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable on Dec. 7, 2020. (AP)

President Donald Trump awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, to Olympic gold medalist and former University of Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable on Dec. 7, 2020. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson December 8, 2020

If Your Time is short

• A 16-second clip from a White House ceremony showed wrestler and Medal of Freedom recipient Dan Gable shrugging to reporters after Trump exited the room.

• Some Twitter users shared the clip and characterized Trump’s exit as abrupt.

• The full 20-minute video shows Trump lavishing praise on Gable, taking questions and thanking those in attendance before he left.

•  Gable said he didn’t perceive Trump’s exit to be a slight against him.

A video tweet about President Donald Trump’s Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony for wrestler Dan Gable went viral on Dec. 7, with critics on social media suggesting that Trump made an abrupt departure.

In the 16-second video, Trump is seen exiting the Oval Office as a reporter asks for "one more question about the inauguration." The camera then pans to Gable, a champion wrestler and Olympic gold medalist, who looks at the press gathered and raises his hands. "He’s gone," Gable says.

Twitter users shared the video clip by the thousands, with some critics characterizing Trump’s actions as abrupt or inconsiderate.

"Today @realDonaldTrump wandered out of his own office and left Medal of Freedom recipient, Dan Gable, standing there with no clue what to do," wrote one Twitter user. "‘More Presidential than anyone in history.’"

"This is unreal," tweeted Aaron Rupar, the associate editor for politics and policy at Vox.com. "Trump abruptly walked out of Dan Gable’s Medal of Freedom ceremony today, leaving Gable shrugging and at a complete loss about what he was supposed to do."

Rupar’s tweet had drawn nearly 14,000 retweets by midday the following day. Commenters suggested the video showed Trump being "disrespectful" and "classless."

But the clip shared on Twitter lacks context from a 20-minute ceremony in which Trump praised Gable, offered to answer media questions, and thanked Gable and those accompanying him. 

The full C-SPAN video shows that Trump spoke for 10 minutes commending Gable, who then spoke for four minutes. The presentation of the medal took about two minutes, after which a reporter asked Gable a question for one minute.

Then reporters asked Trump two questions, one about the COVID-19 infection of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and another about the election results, which Trump responded were "rigged."

As he was answering the election question, Trump sought to turn the focus back to Gable.

"Very importantly, we're here for a different reason," Trump said. "We're here to present our highest award, our highest achievement, really, something that really speaks to such incredible achievement, to a man who really is a great man and a great figure in sports, not just wrestling, in sports. One of our greatest athletes of all time. And I just want to say it's an honor to be with you. Thank you. Thank you very much."

At that point, Trump tapped Gable on the shoulder and applauded him. He turned to members of Gable’s entourage and said, "Thank you, everybody," and then walked out. The C-SPAN camera turned back to Gable, who raised his arms and appeared a bit surprised, but then smiled at the audience and acknowledged someone who said, "Congratulations!"

Gable later told Fox News in an interview (a clip of which Rupar subsequently tweeted) that he wasn't worried about how Trump exited.

"He's never made me mad," Gable told Fox’s Brian Kilmeade. "He might've walked out of the press conference yesterday a little bit perturbed with a couple newspaper people, but I was having a great time."

Rupar said he never characterized Trump's departure as"‘awkward" or "rude." "My tweet was in no way meant to summarize the whole event. I think it's quite clear from Gable's reaction that he was confused about Trump's departure."

The full video shows something the 16-second clip does not reveal: that when Trump turned to questions on topics beyond the medal ceremony, the official business of the event was over. When he finished with the questions he wanted to answer, Trump left.

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Louis Jacobson

In context: The Medal of Freedom clip that went viral on Twitter