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Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy June 21, 2018

Website touts misleading headline about Obama plotting White House takeover

A recent clickbait headline claimed former President Barack Obama was caught holding private meetings in an effort to retake the White House.

The headline spins the narrative in a way that could mislead readers.

"Busted: Obama is holding secret meetings to overtake the White House," said a June 11, 2018, headline from Redstate Watcher, a conservative website that seeks "to forward the Trump agenda," according to the about section on its Facebook page. The same story appeared on several other conservative blog sites.

Obama trying to take over the White House? It's not like that, based on what's been reported.

Facebook flagged this story as part of its efforts to combat false news and misinformation on Facebook's News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

"Obama is continuing to break former president protocol by trying to infiltrate current administration," the story said, citing a report from the Washington Examiner detailing Obama’s private, one-on-one meetings with prospective Democratic presidential candidates.

The story said Obama was eager to play a role in advising leading Democrats and shaping the party’s future. The story said he has insisted that 2020 hopefuls continue framing discussions around the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election because it "sticks with voters in the long run."

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We decided to take a look at the story and see how its claim checked out. We found that its contents can be traced back to a June 11, 2018, report from Politico. (The Washington Examiner story cited Politico as its source).

But the few discrepancies between the original Politico report and the post from Redstate Watcher cast a misleading light on the latter’s narrative.

For one, the Politico report said of the Russia investigations: "Many of the conversations have circled around Obama holding forth about how much Democrats should be heading into the midterms talking about the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election versus focusing on kitchen table issues … Think about what’s going to stick in the long term."

The Politico story also said nothing about Obama breaking any formal or informal protocol for past presidents or attempting to "infiltrate" President Donald Trump’s administration. We searched Google and Nexis and could not find any credible reports saying that.

Redstate Watcher responded to a Facebook message by noting that the story featured "a clickbait title" and criticizing readers and fact-checkers who "pick and choose which words you feel like taking literally and which words you take figuratively."

Obama did arrange multiple private meetings with potential Democratic presidential candidates. But the former president was never "busted" for working in secret to "infiltrate" and "overtake" the Trump White House.

We rate this statement Mostly False.

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Mostly False
"Busted: Obama is holding secret meetings to overtake the White House"
in a blog
Monday, June 11, 2018

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Website touts misleading headline about Obama plotting White House takeover

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