Did Barack Obama Mock the Flint Water Crisis?
A viral video from right-wing comedian Terrence K. Williams claims that President Barack Obama “made fun of the flint water crisis and mocked the people who suffered and died from it” by asking for a glass of water at a rally in Flint, Michigan, during his presidency.
The video is a clip from Fahrenheit 11/9, a documentary produced by Michael Moore, and shows scenes from a 2016 speech Obama gave in Flint. During the speech, Obama criticized the mistakes that were made that led to the crisis in the first place and praised both the government and volunteer response to the water crisis, saying that the responders on the ground had, among other things, “distributed thousands of filters.” To show that filters being distributed were effective, Obama requested a glass of filtered water on stage, and right before he drank from the glass he said: “Now, the reason I know I’m okay is because I already had some Flint water.” He told the audience that “while you are waiting to get your pipes replaced, you need to have a filter installed, and use that filter. And if you do use that filter, then the water is safe to consume for children over the age of 6 and who are not pregnant.” He went on to say: “So although I understand the fear and concern that people have, and it is entirely legitimate, what the science tells us at this stage is you should not drink any of the water that is not filtered. But if you get the filter and use it properly, that water can be consumed. That’s point number one.”
At the time of Obama’s comments, it had been determined that “Some filters can remove up to 99 percent of the lead in water when used properly.” Shortly after Obama appeared in Flint, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported that water filters were “effective in consistently reducing the lead in tap water, in most cases to undetectable levels, and in all cases to levels that would not result in a significant increase in overall lead exposure. ATSDR also reported that the filter test data supports the conclusion that the use of filtered water would protect all populations, including pregnant women and children, from exposure to lead-contaminated water.”