FACT CHECK: Meme Suggests Trump Is A ‘Tyrant’ Using Spurious Thomas Jefferson Quote

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

A meme shared by the Facebook page RIP GOP claimed that President Thomas Jefferson once said, “When the speech condemns a free press, you are hearing the words of a tyrant.”

Verdict: False

Jefferson’s estate at Monticello says there is no evidence of Jefferson ever writing these words.

Fact Check:

In October 2017, President Donald Trump tweeted: “NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!”

That tweet is paired with the quote attributed to Jefferson in the image. However, there is no evidence that Jefferson actually spoke or wrote these words.

The expression is included in a list of spurious quotations from Jefferson’s estate at Monticello and does not appear in a collection of Jefferson’s writings.

“This quotation has not been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson,” Monticello says on its website. “Its earliest known appearance to date is a meme generated in late February 2017.”

While this exact quotation cannot be traced to Jefferson, he did support the freedom of the press. In a letter to statesman John Jay in 1786, Jefferson wrote that liberty “cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter


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