(CBS News) – Republican Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted a doctored photo of former President Barack Obama appearing to shake hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with the caption, “The world is a better place without these guys in power.” Mr. Obama and Rouhani never actually met in person. Rouhani still serves as president of Iran.
The fake image, which was tweeted from the Arizona representative’s personal Twitter account, shows Mr. Obama smiling broadly while shaking hands with Rouhani in front of the American flag and the flag of Iran during what would appear to be a photo op. The image of Mr. Obama, however, appears to be taken from a 2011 event during which he was actually shaking hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in front of the Indian flag.
Gosar faced immediate backlash for sharing the doctored image.
“The world would be a better place if elected officials didn’t share photoshopped images and take pride in being ignorant,” Illinois Congressman Sean Casten, a Democrat, said in response on Twitter. “This is irresponsible.”
Many people responded to Gosar’s tweet informing him that the image was fake. They also pointed out that Rouhani is still in power, wondering if Gosar had confused the Iranian president for Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general who was killed by a U.S. airstrike on Friday.
Calls for Gosar to delete his tweet went ignored. The congressman instead blamed the backlash on “dim witted reporters.”
“1. To the dim witted reporters like @dmedin11: no one said this wasn’t photoshopped,” Gosar tweeted. “No one said the president of Iran was dead. No one said Obama met with Rouhani in person. The tweet says: ‘the world is a better place without either of them in power’.”
“2. The point remains to all but the dimmest: Obama coddled, appeased, nurtured and protected the worlds No. 1 sponsor of terror,” Gosar continued. “The world is better without Obama as president. The world will be better off without Rouhani.”
Many commenters continued to express doubts the congressman knew the image was fake when he shared it.
The same doctored photo appears to have been used in a 2015 campaign ad for Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson before it was called out as fake, BuzzFeed News reported at the time.
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