Stories About The Obama Sisters That Were Totally False

We should all know by now how disturbingly easy it is for fake news stories and false information to proliferate, especially online. The investigation into Russian bots and their possible role in the 2016 election spotlight this unsettling phenomenon. The highly-divisive political climate in the United States often prompts online audiences to seize on shocking stories as an opportunity to attack the other side, without much thought to accuracy or sourcing. 

And yet, it's still appalling that a number of outlandish and offensive "news" stories about former President Barack Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia, have wormed their way around the internet's darker corners. Particularly shocking is the offensive, invasive, and cruel nature of these stories and how readily online readers have latched on to them to substantiate their political opinions. Below, we break down some of the worst tall tales, and show how they were rightfully debunked.

Malia was pregnant

In November 2014, a hoax website posted an article claiming that then 16-year-old Malia was pregnant. As Buzzfeed reported at the time, the story (which was "steeped in harmful racial stereotypes") received traction when a fake Fox News Facebook account called "Fox News Channel" posted a link to it, prompting Twitter users to react as if it was real news. 

Former president George W. Bush's daughter, Jenna Bush, appeared on Watch What Happens Live in December 2014 and discussed the pressure faced by the Obama sisters in the wake of that rumor and other controversies (including nasty comments from a GOP staffer who later resigned.) "I'm fiercely protective of them, obviously," said Jenna. "...I don't think that it's easy. It's not a job that they wanted. ... I had a hard time [growing up in the White House], but it's also a privilege." 

The White House, appropriately, did not respond to the ridiculous story. 

Sasha crashed her car

Sasha, the youngest Obama daughter, wasn't even 18 years old when a pro-Trump website went after her with a ridiculous story in December 2017 claiming that she had crashed her car into a lake. According to the Washington Press, the article claimed that Barack Obama had bought Sasha a "used Bugatti Veyron for Christmas" (a car worth $1.5 million), which she then drove 90 mph into a lake near Washington, D.C. The article went on the describe how when police arrived, they smelled marijuana coming from the crashed car.

Fact-checking website Snopes broke down, piece by piece, why the story was false: the supposed lake where the incident occurred doesn't exist; the fake article linked out to a newspaper's homepage rather than an actual piece to support its claims; there is no evidence that Sasha ever owned a Bugatti Veyron. Finally, the article's "photographic evidence" was actually a photo from a completely unrelated 2009 incident involving an insurance fraud scheme. 

Malia was busted with weed

In May 2017, AOL reported that a "satirical conservative entertainment website" posted an article that claimed that the elder Obama sister, Malia, had slipped away from the secret service to party in a Chicago public park. The site reported (via that Malia had participated in "a day of drinking, drugs and dogfighting" and was subsequently arrested "along with seven others and charged with wanton endangerment of animals, public intoxication and possession of a controlled substance."

That article was completely false, and, according to AOL, "the image they used was a doctored mugshot grab from a 2013 dogfighting ring bust." 

Snopes noted that the site where the ridiculous article appeared includes a disclaimer that says, "All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney. Pictures that represent actual people should be considered altered and not in any way real." Even so, it's clear that this piece and others of its ilk are intended to fan the flames of anger toward former President Barack Obama and his family, "satirical" or not.

Sasha was murdered in a drive-by shooting

Celebrity "death hoaxes" have long been a way for questionable websites to drive traffic to their pages. Eminem, Paul McCartney, Cher, and many, many more have fallen victim to these ridiculous stories. That said, it's especially disturbing that a site would target a young person such as Sasha who is striving to live a life outside the spotlight.

In July 2017, a "news site" posted the completely fake and frankly offensive story that Sasha had been murdered in an organized drive-by shooting not far from her school. This insane claim was obviously proven false by the fact that Sasha was, well, seen alive after the story was posted. 

According to Snopes, the site that posted the article "does not carry a readily available disclaimer labeling its content as satire, nor does it make any attempt at humor (none that we recognized anyway) or hint to the reader in any other way that this article is a piece of complete fiction." It's clear that the site's intention is to purposely mislead readers, making a piece like this especially ill-intentioned. 

Malia was arrested for involvement in 'Antifa' violence

As Newsweek reported in November 2017, Malia Obama was also the subject of an online post that claimed she had been arrested yet again with a group of people for "an 'Antifa' inspired assault and hate crime against an elderly woman in Cambridge, Massachusetts." The fake news site alleged that, along with nine other Harvard students, Malia had attacked a white woman who was exiting a Catholic Church in a racially motivated attack, adding that the allegations were proof of the Obama family's racism (via Snopes).

According to Newsweek, the site where the bogus article appeared noted its satirical purpose but also added, "while everything on this site is a satirical work of fiction, we are proud to present it to those who will have called it real anyway." As Newsweek put it: satirical stories of that sort "further stok[ed] not only perceived hatred towards President Obama but that the left is rising up in 'civil war' with the so-called 'Antifa,' or anti-fascists leading the charge." 

Their biological father was suing Barack and Michelle

March 2017 brought the insane story that Sasha and Malia were not, in fact, Michelle and Barack Obama's biological children. According to AOL, a "satirical entertainment website" claimed that an individual named Ezekiel Wilekenmeyer Williams had filed a lawsuit claiming that he was hired by a pharmaceutical company to provide a sperm donation to the Obamas 20 years earlier. Per, the site also wrote that Williams was "has 4 PhDs from MIT and Oxford, sits first chair violin in the London Philharmonic Orchestra and is a world champion chess and Texas Hold 'Em player." Mmmkay.

Snopes debunked the entire tale, yet the whole pathetic story got rehashed a month later when alt-right conspiracy peddler Alex Jones kicked it up again on his radio show. As AOL reported, during a conversation with writer Mike Cernovich, Jones said, "The word is those aren't even [Barack Obama's] kids." 

A dubious story about Sasha and Malia's parenthood previously weaseled its way into the public eye when Kentucky State Rep. Tim Couch published a fake news video to his Facebook page that alleged the first daughters were adopted with the caption: "What do you think?" We think that's a dirty move, and lots of folks agree. The lawmaker's post was promptly removed following outcry from local media

The FBI questioned Malia about Harvey Weinstein

In the wake of serious sexual assault allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein and the beginning of the #MeToo movement in November 2017, tabloid magazine the Globe broke the "story" that Malia Obama, who had interned for a summer at the Weinstein Company, was being questioned by the FBI. However, as People reported, the article then qualified its claim, explaining "that the FBI hasn't actually questioned Malia, instead claiming that unnamed sources said 'agents want to grill Malia in a hush-hush deposition.'"

The trumped-up headline provoked outrage from none other than former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, who tweeted, "Loathsome. Just loathsome. Please leave Malia alone to lead her own life & keep her out of your (shameful) agenda!" 

Clinton would jump to Malia's defense again a couple weeks later after photos of Malia seemingly canoodling with a young man started circulating online. Clinton wrote, "Malia Obama's private life, as a young woman, a college student, a private citizen, should not be your clickbait. Be better." 

Barack seized Russian mansions as gifts for the girls

At the end of his term in December 2016, Barack Obama's administration seized two diplomatic compounds that were owned by Russia (in New York and Maryland) as a result of "sanctions imposed against the Russian government for its alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election," reported CNN. The move provoked ire from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who told CNN, "We have repeatedly said that we think any conditions are unacceptable. We think that the diplomatic property must be returned without any conditions and talks."

The situation proved to be irresistible fodder for a fake news site, which couldn't resist "reporting" that Obama had in fact seized the mansions as gifts for his daughters. Per Politifact, the bogus article claimed, "It looks like Obummer [sic] wasn't actually trying to punish Russia for anything after all ... he was actually just trying to get a couple of free mansions for his brats while kissing up to his ignorant base..."

The story is just flat out wrong for so many reasons, not least that, as of this writing, the U.S. government is still in control of those compounds. 

Malia was fired from an internship

Malia was targeted by fake news trolls yet again in July 2017, when another "satirical" site claimed she'd been fired from a summer internship at the U.S. embassy in Spain. The reason? The site made the preposterous claim that Malia had been busted smoking weed. 

According to AOL, the widely-shared article reported that security had caught her "on the roof of the building burning a doobie and playing with the Ambassador's carrier pigeons," adding that "Malia was terminated immediately, her room was cleared and she was escorted from the private areas of the embassy to the common area where she could wait to change the dates on her travel visa so she could return home."

Snopes dutifully fact-checked the piece, writing that while Malia had interned for the U.S. embassy in Spain in 2016, she was not working there again in 2017 (in fact, that was the summer she interned at the Weinstein company.) 

Malia was suspended from Harvard

On top of getting fake fired from her fake internship, the internet tried to make another claim about Malia's supposed misbehavior in April 2018. This time, as Snopes reported, a Facebook page billing itself as "a collection of the satirical whimsies of liberal trolls masquerading as conservatives" posted a photo of Malia with a racist caption superimposed over it. The implication was that the caption, about the eradication of white people, was a direct quote from Malia.

Just days later, according to Politifact, a pro-Trump site reported that Malia had been suspended from Harvard for writing a paper along the same lines. That was also a complete fabrication and was quickly debunked. 

Sadly, this was not the first time that Malia's Harvard career made false headlines. In 2017, a site tried to claim that she'd been expelled from the Ivy League institution after getting caught (via AOL) "in a Boston hotel lounge vaping marijuana with friends."