/Fact check: Charles Krauthammer did not accuse Obama of forming shadow government

Fact check: Charles Krauthammer did not accuse Obama of forming shadow government

The claim: Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer authored an essay calling an Obama-linked organization a ‘shadow government.’

A Facebook user on June 25 posted a warning labeled, in all-caps, “todays (sic) history lesson” and attributed it to Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who died in 2018. The 701-word post calls Organizing for Action a “shadow government” helmed by former President Barack Obama to “disrupt everything that our current president’s administration is trying to do.”

The column also quotes conservative commentator Paul Sperry as writing, “The OFA will fight President Donald Trump at every turn of his presidency and the ex-president will command them from a bunker less than two miles from the White House.”

The column was pinned to an ominous image of Obama, with the words “traitor,” “shadow government” and “deep state” written underneath. Obama is bordered by images of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a photoshopped image of former Vice President Joe Biden aiming a gun, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was tasked with investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian officials, and others.

The image was watermarked to a Twitter account that supports the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon.

Origins form President Donald Trump’s earliest days in office

The column has spread far over the years, but never links back to one of the news organizations Krauthammer wrote for in his decades-long career. Its reach includes conservative activist and musician Ted Nugent. He shared the same text on his Facebook page in October 2017, though he attributed it to Krauthammer writing in the New York Post. The columns attributed to Krauthammer in Nugent’s post and the June 25 Facebook post are identical, down to a sentence nearing the bottom ending with two periods.

Krauthammer, who wrote for the Washington Post for decades, is only bylined in the New York Post twice, according to its website. Once was for a printed excerpt from a speech he gave.

Shortly before Nugent’s 2017 post, the alleged authorship caught the attention of fact-checking website Snopes.com. It found the column attributed to Krauthammer largely originated from the blog DailyJot.com in February 2017 — eight months before Nugent’s post. Krauthammer’s research assistant, Mike Watson, further confirmed that Krauthammer “had nothing to do with” the column.

The Daily Jot describes itself as “news analysis from a prophetic Christian worldview.” The Daily Jot author, Bill Wilson, confirmed to Snopes that he wrote the piece. In an email to USA TODAY, Wilson again confirmed that the Krauthammer attribution was a “fabrication.” The Daily Jot’s online archives end in 2018, but Wilson sent a copy of the column that matches prior accounts.

What is Organizing for Action?

Organizing for Action was a political activist organization that formed from President Barack Obama’s campaign committee in 2013, after he won his second term. It aimed to continue the grassroots organizing and training that helped propel Obama to the White House and his re-election.

It also didn’t leave Democrats with the warmest of feelings. During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign, the party’s Association of State Democratic Committees secured pledges from all the top campaigns not to create similar organizations, which were seen as a duplication to the party, according to POLITICO.

“(Organizing for Action) wasn’t helpful to the political work that needs to get done in building a bench,” Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, told POLITICO. “We have a political tool in the state parties and the president should use them.”

Organizing for Action rebranded in February 2019 as anti-gerrymandering organization All On The Line after merging with National Redistricting Action Fund, a group founded by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder served in the Obama administration.

Our ruling: False

Without weighing the merits of the article shared in the Facebook posts, we can say it was not authored by Krauthammer. The claim that he authored the contents of the post is FALSE. Even the additional quote, from actual New York Post columnist Perry, isn’t a direct quote — it is a paraphrase of the conservative author, albeit one that captures his message. The bulk of the text used in the Facebook posts was lifted from the Daily Jot article, though with occasional edits.

Further, Organizing for Action is not a shadow government formed by former President Barack Obama. The political activist organization works on anti-gerrymandering efforts under the rebranded name All on the Line.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Snopes: Did Charles Krauthammer Write an Op-Ed Called ‘The Enemy Among Us?’
  • New York Post: How Obama is scheming to sabotage Trump’s presidency
  • Politico: Democrats disavow Obama’s creation of rival political group
  • The Hill: Obama political arm to merge with Holder-run group

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