President Obama Awards Himself Medal for Distinguished Public Service-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
President Obama awarded himself the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service before leaving office.
President Obama received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service — but recipients are nominated by the Department of Defense and approved by the Secretary of Defense, not the president.
Breitbart started these rumors with a story that appeared under the headline, “President Obama Awards Himself Distinguished Public Service Medal” on January 4, 2017.
However, the body of the article does not match the headline and cites and Associated Press report stating that the medal was presented by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to the president. The AP report describes an Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Review event in which Obama called for a smooth handover of military control to President-elect Donald Trump. The report concluded:
Prior to his remarks, Defense Secretary Ash Carter presented Obama with the Medal of Distinguished Public Service as a token of appreciation for his service as commander in chief.
Again, the president does not nominate recipients. The Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service is the highest honorary award presented by DOD to private citizens, and nominees are chosen based on these criteria:
Nominations for this award will demonstrate distinguished or meritorious service of significance to DOD or Army; personal sacrifice and inconvenience in the performance or assistance of such service; and motivation by patriotism, good citizenship, and a sense of public responsibility.
It’s become somewhat of a tradition for outgoing presidents to receive the Department of Defense Medal for Public Service, too. President George W. Bush received the medal from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in January 2009, and President Clinton received the medal from Secretary of Defense William Cohen in January 2001.
So, it’s true that Obama received the Department of Defense Medal for Public Service — but he didn’t nominate himself for the recognition, and it’s common for outgoing presidents to receive the medal.