FACT CHECK: Did Obama Award The Presidential Medal Of Freedom To Clinton, Cosby, Weiner And Weinstein?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows former President Barack Obama awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former President Bill Clinton, comedian Bill Cosby, movie producer Harvey Weinstein and former congressman Anthony Weiner.

Verdict: False

While Obama did award the Medal of Freedom to Clinton in 2013, he never awarded it to Cosby, Weinstein or Weiner, whose heads have been photoshopped onto photos of different medal recipients in the meme.

Fact Check:

The Medal of Freedom is the most prestigious civilian award presented by a U.S. president. During his presidency, Obama awarded the medal to more than 110 recipients.

The Facebook post in question criticizes Democrats for allegedly awarding the medal to Clinton, Cosby, Weiner and Weinstein, who have each been accused or convicted of sexual misconduct. “I didn’t know there was a sexual predator award,” the caption remarks.

Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998 for lying under oath and for obstruction of justice, both charges arising out of a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones. The Senate subsequently acquitted Clinton on both articles of impeachment.

In 2017, Weiner was convicted of transferring obscene material to a minor and sentenced to 21 months in prison. He was released from federal custody a few months early in May.

Cosby was convicted in 2018 of aggravated indecent assault and sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. He remains incarcerated. Weinstein, on the other hand, is currently awaiting trial after being charged in 2018 with several counts of sexual assault and rape.

Though Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to Clinton in 2013, he never awarded it to Cosby, Weiner or Weinstein, contrary to the claims of the Facebook post. Neither Weinstein nor Weiner has ever received the medal, while Cosby was given the award in 2002 by former President George W. Bush. (RELATED: Did Obama Bow To The Supreme Leader Of Iran?)

In the Facebook image, the heads of Cosby, Weinstein and Weiner have been photoshopped onto photographs of Obama presenting the Medal of Freedom to different public figures. A photo of Cosby’s head appears to have been photoshopped onto a 2016 image of musician Bruce Springsteen. Images of Weinstein’s and Weiner’s heads seem to have been superimposed onto a 2017 photo of former Vice President Joe Biden and a 2016 photo of actor Tom Hanks, respectively.

Despite his sexual assault conviction, which he appealed in June, Cosby has not been stripped of the Medal of Freedom. “There is no precedent for revoking a medal,” Obama said after being asked about the allegations in 2015, before Cosby was convicted. “We don’t have that mechanism.”

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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