It's not quite coal in a stocking, but conservative commentator Tomi Lahren got trolled hardcore on Twitter this holiday weekend. On Dec. 23, a photoshopped still began circulating of Lahren appearing on Fox, supposedly making reference to former President Barack Obama. The image had beed edited so that the chyron in the lower third caption read, "Tomi: Obama Created Festivus To Destroy Christmas." And the resulting tweets about Tomi Lahren and Festivus are pretty hilarious.
"Congrats, @BarackObama, on apparently creating Seinfeld," tweeted user Jordan Uhl on Saturday. User @Seinfeld2000 took credit for the doctored image in a tweet on Sunday, but it's not clear that this was in fact where it originated. The still appears to have been taken from a Fox News appearance months earlier, in which Lahren was actually discussing Hillary Clinton.
Regardless, the image spread quickly, going viral with over 22,000 retweets as of Tuesday. A surprising number of people were fooled by it.
"Festivus" is a fictional holiday coined by a Season 9 episode of Seinfeld which aired in December 1997. So Obama definitely didn't invent it. But Lahren, on her appearance, didn't claim that he did, either. The whole thing was fake, but it didn't stop people on social media from second-guessing it, or outright believing it.
In case you're not familiar with Festivus...
Per the narrative, Festivus is the invention of Seinfield character Frank Costanza, meant as an alternative to Christmas, Hanukkah, and all the other end-of-year holidays. It's "celebrated" on Dec. 23, and includes some hilarious traditions: rather than a Christmas tree, you bring out a Festivus Pole; and rather than a prayer around a dinner table, the ritual dinner is accompanied by the "Airing of Grievances," in which you take turns expressing how other people have disappointed you in the past year. The Seinfeld reference has become so popular over the years that people actually celebrate it alongside traditional religious holidays. (In fact, for the episode's 20th anniversary this year, diehard fans came out to celebrate.)
According to FestivusWeb.com, the fictional holiday was inspired by a real tradition started by the father of one of the show's writers. So any way you cut it, Obama definitely wasn't responsible for popularizing the holiday.
People on social media believed that Lahren had actually had a conspiracy theory about Obama and Festivus.
Despite its well-known roots in Seinfeld, it was apparently believable to some that the conservative talk-show host would have her own out-there political beliefs about its origins.
Though the still was photoshopped, lots of users had their doubts. "Ok the Tomi Lahren festivus image that is circulating isn't real.... right?" tweeted Aidan Quigley.
Apparently so many users thought the image was real that some had to clarify that it was, in fact, not.
Lahren herself put the issue to bed in a pair of barbed tweets, first writing, "You idiots think this is real? Have you nothing better to do than photoshop fake news? Get a hobby. Go for a walk. Do something. Good Lord." She followed it up with, "Does it not bother you to circulate a photoshopped piece of FAKE NEWS? Classy."
Jason Alexander, the actor who played George Costanza on Seinfeld, also weighed in on the conspiracy. "Ok, so can we now all agree that this woman is either batshit crazy or that she will say anything for money?"
The fact that people believed it was drew its own attention.
"The Tomi Lahren festivus picture is fake but it says so much about her that people thought it was real."
"My fav part of 'Tomi Lahren says Obama created Festivus' is how many ppl found it so utterly believable," wrote New York Post editor Seth Mandel.
Lahren has made herself famous for saying outlandish and provocative things, particularly charges against "liberal snowflakes." The hyper-controversial talking head has circulated in and out of the media cycle several times in the last year, so it's understandable that people believed, even momentarily, that Lahren might've actually said this on live TV.
She didn't, in case it wasn't clear by now. But it didn't stop social media from having a field day with a good old-fashioned photoshop.