After a bumpy rollout of his health care law, President Barack Obama has taken his share of criticism lately. But did that include some trash-talking by Russian President Vladimir Putin?
This week, a reader forwarded us a Facebook meme with Putin’s picture and the quotation, "Any fourth grade history student knows socialism has failed in every country, at every time in history. President Obama and his Democrats are either idiots or deliberately trying to destroy their own economy."
Did Putin really call his colleague Obama an idiot? You may wonder why you hadn’t heard about the large-scale diplomatic crisis. We did, too. So we took a look.
As it turns out, the alleged quote is not new. It appeared repeatedly on social media during the past few years, surfacing on Facebook and far-flung corners of the Internet.
As long ago as 2009, it surfaced on Godlike Productions, a site that regularly discusses UFOs and conspiracy theories. While some commenters questioned the quote’s veracity, many lauded it: "Even Putin knows history and he is an intellectual man-with EXPERIENCE. Regardless of his early years in KGB-he seems fairly aware and likely giving sound advice," wrote one user.
Another site called "Obama sux" even used the quote as its motto, putting Putin’s name in Cyrillic letters – Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин – to add an authentic touch.
But we just needed a little Web sleuthing to confirm that the original source of the quote was a blog post in February 2009, on a site called Scooter’s Report. It was part of a short article titled, "Putin: Obama ‘Idiot’ For Adopting Socialism."
The article quoted Putin as saying that Russian history clearly proves Obama’s approach is a recipe for failure. It ended with this rebuttal by an Obama spokesman: "We're going to do socialism better."
So what is Scooter’s Report? It’s a blog that mixes satirical articles with offensive, manipulated images of Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. It only appears to have been updated once since 2011. A different site, World News Bureau, is operated by the same blogger, publishing such posts as "Chris Matthews not allowed to masturabte during Obama interview" and "Unexplained Phenomena Reported At Monticello."
The people distributing Putin’s alleged quote didn’t bother to look at a disclaimer on Scooter’s Report that says: "Like I have to tell you. This is fictitious satire and any resemblance to persons, places, or events is coincidental."
A recent Facebook meme said Vladimir Putin accused Obama of being an "idiot" for trying to implement socialism in the United States. The alleged quote has circulated online for almost six years, but we can say with confidence that the quote comes from a satire website, a truth that could have been easily discovered through a few clicks on the Internet. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.