In the few days since the White House released a photo of President Obama skeet shooting, conservatives have come up with a slew of increasingly absurd ways to criticize it, in many cases either insinuating or outright accusing the photo of being a fake.
It looks "odd"
The conservative Daily Caller is responsible for this great analysis. Their big headline on the photo's release says "White House releases ‘odd’ photo of Obama skeet shooting, urges users not to Photoshop it." So what makes it "odd" as they call it? It turns out that's the analysis of a Washington Times editor named Emily Miller who wrote about it on her Facebook page. It's unclear what makes Miller's expertise headline material, but clearly any criticism was worth sharing.
Why don't they want us to photoshop the photo?
The Daily Caller also made a big deal over the White House disclaimer on the photo, which was included in the posting to the White House flickr page and said "The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House."
This piece of investigative journalism made need a little more digging, because that disclaimer is on every single photo on the White House flickr page.
Of course, that disclaimer didn't stop the trolls of the internet from coming up with a series of doctored versions of the photo.
The gun is too parallel to the ground
This line came from Emily Miller, who thinks the photo looks odd, because "the clays come high or low, not straight."
Miller wasn't the only one to offer up this particular criticism. It's one of seven reasons offered up by Michael Harlin in an American Thinker piece trying to explain why the picture was photoshopped, in which he says "If he's shooting skeet then I'm Daffy Duck."
According to Harlin, the skeet is rarely level with the ground. Rarely is, of course, not "never," but that's not as much fun for those who love to criticize the president. What this particular theory ignores is that the president could easily be taking a practice shot to get a feel for the trigger.
The smoke doesn't look right
This particular criticism comes also from Michael Harlin, along with the folks over at the ClashDaily, the website of Doug Giles, a feminist hating gun-lover with his own reality show.
"One will immediately notice that there is smoke coming from the right side of the gun in the photo as well as out the front," the article argues. "The only problem is that there is no smoke coming from the ports on the left side of the gun, clearly seen in the photo suggesting that the smoke was doctored into the photo."
He changed his shirt!
The conspiracy theorists were quick to question the timing of the photo, with many claiming that the photo couldn't have taken on Aug. 4th because the president was wearing a different shirt that day.
It's true that earlier that day the president was photographed in a white polo shirt, rather than the black one he's wearing in the skeet shooting photo. He was enjoying a round of golf as part of his birthday celebration. It is apparently unfathomable that the president might have decided to change shirts after he golfed.
Perhaps it's equally unfathomable to this crowd that the president would spend part of his birthday shooting guns, given how much they assume he hates them.
Why isn't he wearing a hat?
It's meaningless because Obama still hates guns
We can thank the NRA for this particular reaction. According to a statement from Saturday afternoon, "One picture does not erase a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun-control scheme imaginable."
Up until the Newtown school shooting, the president had received significant criticism from the left, including the pro-gun control Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who criticized his "failed leadership" on the issue. Trying asking those folks if Obama has a "lifetime of supporting every gun ban."
It's part of a plan to take your guns away
Admittedly, this particularly criticism is being leveled at Obama in general, rather than the photo specifically, but it's curious that within hours of the White House releasing the image of Obama with his own "smoking gun" the far-right WorldNetDaily prominently featured a headline asking "WHY IS GOVERNMENT STOCKPILING GUNS, AMMO?"
In this piece, Joseph Farah obsesses the idea that the president is planning to create a "civilian national security force" and points to recent ammunition purchases by the Department of Homeland Security as proof of the president's intentions.
The article features a poll at the end asking why DHS is stockpiling these weapons. The majority of respondents gave one of two answers: "Obama is preparing to declare martial law" (45%) and "Homeland Security is arming itself to crush any patriots who might start a Second Revolution" (30%).
As absurd as it may be, fortunately not everyone on the left is bothered by the criticism. White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe even welcomed it a little bit when he tweeted the photo out on Saturday.
Attn skeet birthers. Make our day - let the photoshop conspiracies begin! m.flickr.com/photos/whiteho…— David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) February 2, 2013
Perhaps the most important point to make in all this is the attention being paid to this photo by so many on the right. It was released in order to put an end to the distracting debate over whether or not the president shoots skeet. As the photo shows, he does. He may not do it with the skill of an expert, but his ability to shoot a gun should not ultimately have any impact on the debate over gun violence. The right's inability to drop the issue proves they'd rather attack him than honestly debate any of the issues.
Credit to NY Magazine's Andre Tartar, for compiling many of these criticisms.