UPDATE, Feb. 4: WH answers questions about photo
*Update 2 at bottom of post
After days of headlines over whether or not President Obama actually shoots skeet when he's at Camp David, the White House today released an official photo of the President in action on his 51st birthday last August at the highly secure presidential retreat. "President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012," read the caption with the photo by chief White House photographer Pete Souza. UPDATE 1: A time stamp on the photo says that it was taken at "7:19:21 PM (timezone not specified)."
Critics pounced after President Obama was asked "Have you ever fired a gun?" during an interview with The New Republic published on Jan. 27. President Obama responded "Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time."
That led to many demands for an official photo, but Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters during last Monday's daily briefing that he had not seen a photograph of the President in action.
“When he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs," Carney said.
On Saturday, August 4, 2012, in the midst of his re-election campaign, President Obama traveled to Camp David after playing golf during the day in the DC area, and spent the night celebrating his birthday at the woodsy compound on Catoctin mountain with family, aides and friends, including assistant chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass. Which naturally raises the question--is Kass a skeet shooter, too?
The President in his TNR interview said that his guests also hit the pigeon range, when asked if the sport shooting includes "the whole family."
"Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there," President Obama responded. "And I have 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."
Like President Obama, Kass is also a lefty. They play golf, football and basketball together, so shooting is not out of the question. Kass was in the President's golf foursome on the day the shooting range photo was taken, so maybe his birthday dinner for the President was a nice stew of clay pigeons.
The President and his party returned to Washington on Sunday, August 5th.
The White House on Saturday pushed the presidential shooting photo on Twitter, with tweets from Carney, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, and former Senior Advisor David Plouffe. Pfeiffer and Plouffe both chided those who are skeptical of the President's expertise with guns, with Plouffe channeling Clint Eastwood as he called them "skeet birthers."
Attn skeet birthers. Make our day - let the photoshop conspiracies begin! m.flickr.com/photos/whiteho…
— David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) February 2, 2013
For all the "skeeters": POTUS shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David on Aug. 4, 2012. bit.ly/WlDMYG
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) February 2, 2013
POTUS shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David on Aug. 4, 2012. bit.ly/WlDMYG###
— Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) February 2, 2013
****UPDATE 2: The internet was filled with stories about the image on Saturday, and Twitter users went wild, tweeting with the hashtags #skeetgate and the derogatory #NextWhiteHousePhoto.
Plouffe also weighed in with another tweet, writing "Day made. The skeet birthers are out in full force in response to POTUS pic. Makes for most excellent, delusional reading. #whereistrump." Samples of tweets with both hashtags are below.
The #skeetgate hashtag started being used earlier this week, when Carney told reporters that he had never seen a photo of the President shooting skeet.
A sampling of #NextWhiteHousePhoto tweets:
#NextWhiteHousePhoto King Obama the First getting ready for a nice dinner. He's excited for his favorite meat! twitter.com/YoungCons/stat…
— The Young Cons (@YoungCons) February 2, 2013
#NextWhiteHousePhotoThis is more believable than the White House shooting photo. twitter.com/PointlessPol/s…
— End of the Republic (@PointlessPol) February 3, 2013
#NextWhiteHousePhoto #Obama taking credit for throwing the winning touchdown pass at the Super Bowl ----->> twitter.com/millerpost/sta…
— Bring It On (@millerpost) February 3, 2013
RT #NextWhiteHousePhoto In this photo, President Skeeter is training with Seal Team 6. #lmao #tcot twitter.com/rjfitz66/statu…
— ConservativeCanadian (@rjfitz66) February 3, 2013
#NextWhiteHousePhoto Obama Unveils New Plans For "Bullet Train" From New York To Los Angeles twitter.com/BrokenCountry/…
— John Dee (@BrokenCountry) February 3, 2013
#nextwhitehousephoto Obama jumping Snake River Canyon in a Chevy Volt.
— Sam Valley (@SamValley) February 2, 2013
#NextWhiteHousePhoto President Orwell stopping a tank in Tiananmen Square whileBeyonce stands behind him lipsyncing the National Anthem.
— just another mo(@JustAnotherMo) February 2, 2013
#NextWhiteHousePhoto Barry reading US Constitution
— Hugh Bris (@_HughBris) February 2, 2013
#NextWhiteHousePhoto Obama walking on water.
— Hell-Cat (@Sue_Purb) February 2, 2013
#NextWhiteHousePhoto John Kerry bidding heartfelt goodbyes to Uncle Fester and Cousin It as he heads off to State.
— Harry Grime (@HarryGrime) February 2, 2013
#NextWhiteHousePhoto How about this current 1? The Queen shows how it's done. Dedicated to @piersmorgan -Enjoy,mate! twitter.com/dmataconis/sta…
— Rand D. (@RdH1SW1) February 3, 2013
A sampling of the #skeetgate tweets:
Dear White House, I didn't use photoshop, so we're cool. #SkeetSkeet #Skeetgate #tcot #altcon twitter.com/colestreeper/s…
— Cole Streeper (@colestreeper) February 3, 2013
ahahahahahahah >>> records show #obama golfed august 4th no skeet shooting #Skeetgate .@davidplouffe twitter.com/BeverlyHobbit/… @drudgereport #p2
— maxcua (@MaxCUA) February 3, 2013
I thought everyone understood you're not considered skilled w/ a gun until you shoot someone in the face & try to cover it up. #skeetgate
— David Pleasant (@dpleasant) February 2, 2013
does anyone believe its a coincidence that the #skeetgate pic is released the same day Beyonce's Illuminati connections have been revealed?
— john r stanton (@dcbigjohn) February 2, 2013
Hey @barackobama, need a PhotoShop master to help cover up your many lies? I’m available. #SkeetGate @michellemalkin twitter.com/TexasTsunami/s…
— TexasTsunami (@TexasTsunami) January 30, 2013
*Photo by Pete Souza/White House