Among the many ginned-up outrages targeting Michelle Obama during her tenure as First Lady was a false accusation of disrespect that, much like her husband and then-United States President Barack Obama, spun out of a Veterans’ Day ceremony.
In her case the faux controversy erupted in 2014 — three years after the event in question, held on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego in November 2011. A graphic of her circulated online showing her standing normally while her husband had his hand on his heart.
“America’s first lady on Veteran’s Day?” the caption read. “A picture worth a thousand words. SHARE IF YOU THINK SHE IS A DISGRACE.”
The photograph itself is real; it was taken by Pete Souza, the official White House photographer and is still accessible via the White House website:
The caption reads:
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the retiring of the colors aboard the USS Carl Vinson, docked at North Island Naval Station in San Diego, Calif., Nov. 11, 2011. University of North Carolina and Michigan State University players paused while sailors on board conducted the ceremony, a nightly tradition carried out at sunset.
But the claim that Michelle Obama did not salute at all is false; in typical fashion, the graphic ignores that both Obamas were photographed with their hands over their hearts during the event, by outlets like the Associated Press:
A separate photograph that was formerly available in NBCUniversal’s archives also shows the Obamas with their hands over their hearts in respect:
The fake graphic calling Michelle Obama “a disgrace” was just one of the litany of disinformation campaigns targeting her; during her time in the White House she was also falsely accused of waving a “communist” flag; and sending text messages during a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, among other fabricated slights.
Update 11/11/2021, 12:33pm PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here.