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Photo of Obama firing a shotgun misses mark with critics

Pete Souza / The White House

President Barack Obama firing at skeet at Camp David in August, 2012.

To appease skeptics who doubted Barack Obama when he said in an interview that he shoots skeet "all the time", the White House on Saturday obeyed the Internet rule of "pics or it didn't happen" and released a photo taken of the president firing a shotgun in August.

The controversy began on Sunday when, during an interview with the New Republic, President Obama was asked if he had ever fired a gun. 

"Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time," he responded, adding that he has a "profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake."

What was dismissed, however, was the accuracy of his claim to have shot skeet.

“If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this?” Replubican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee asked Erin Burnett on CNN on Monday. “Why have we not seen photos? Why has he not referenced it at any point in time as we have had this gun debate that is ongoing?”

Later the Tennessee representative suggested a Skeet Summit with the commander in chief. "I tell you what I do think," Rep. Blackburn said. "I think he should invite me to Camp David, and I'll go skeet shooting with him and I bet I'll beat him."

As the week went on, the murmers reached its way to comedian Jon Stewart, who on Thursday mocked the critics by sarcastically asking, “why won’t the black man half the country lives in fear of release a picture of himself holding a gun?”  

The Daily Show star added, “I don’t understand. It would put everyone at ease. Why won’t he do it?”


Other Obama doubters, like real estate mogul Donald Trump, were deemed "birthers" when they demanded President Obama release his birth certificate to prove he was born in Hawaii. The Guardian's
Ana Marie Cox tweeted Friday that, "obviously, skeet-shooting skeptics should be called 'skeeters.'"

One of the many who on Saturday linked to the Pete Souza photo of the president sporting mom jeans and blasting the smoking gun left-handed was White House senior adviser David Plouffe who gloatingly tweeted, “Attn skeet birthers. Make our day — let the photoshop conspiracies begin!” 

Stewart on Thursday predicted that if the White House were to release evidence of presidential gunplay it would not silence the naysayers, and he appears to be correct.

"Wow, it only took you a week to dig up a pic of something he does 'all the time.' lol," tweeted Jimmy Simpson

"What an incredibly stupid thing to do pr-wise," Ontario News Watch Editor-in-Chief Susanna Kelley tweeted. "They'll regret releasing this photo as opponents use it misleadingly."

Buzzfeed's DC Bureau Chief John Stanton tweeted that there's "something fishy about #skeetgate photo. the angle of the barrel is all wrong for skeet flying through the air."

Emily Miller, the Senior Opinion Editor at the Washington Times agreed about the with Stanton about the photo. "This Obama skeet shooting photo looks odd to me because the clays come high or low, not straight," she tweeted. When someone suggested perhaps he was trap shooting, Miller asked, "would they have trap AND skeet positions at Camp David? Would take a lot of space."

CNN "Early Start" co-anchor John Berman joked, "POTUS skeet photo MUST be real. No one would fake wearing jeans pulled up that high."

The shot was released just days before Obama travels to Minneapolis to discuss gun violence with officials.

"Minneapolis is a city that has taken important steps to reduce gun violence and foster a conversation in the community about what further action is needed," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday. "President Obama will visit with members of the community about their experiences and discuss additional steps that can be taken at the federal level to reduce gun violence."

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