Sean Hannity has apparently been looking very, very closely at Barack Obama’s new official portrait and believes he sees something strange — hidden sperm.
The controversial conservative talk show host shared an article on his website on Tuesday claiming that the former president’s new portrait from artist Kehinde Wiley actually contains a secret sperm hidden on Obama’s face. As Talking Points Memo noted, the article was attributed to Hannity’s staff and reported that “industry insiders [are] claiming the artist secretly inserted his trademark technique -concealing images of sperm within his paintings.”
The post included a close-up image of Barack Obama’s face from the portrait, making the claim that a vein on the former president’s head was really supposed to be an image of a sperm. As Buzzfeed noted, the vein in question is visible on a number of actual photos of Obama, making the portrait accurate rather than secretly obscene.
The post generated quite a bit of controversy, with many accusing Sean Hannity of knowingly spreading false information. To back up the assertion that Barack Obama’s portrait had a secret sperm, it appeared to take an out-of-context quote from a profile of the artist from a decade ago in which he said that some backgrounds seemed almost to be “abstractions of sperm.”
Others called out Sean Hannity for the actual source of the report — the internet wasteland known as 4chan. The image-sharing board has become a hotbed for white supremacist sentiment and the breeding grounds for a number of hoaxes and political smears thinly disguised as conspiracy theories (it was 4chan where the infamous Pizzagate theory first originated).
Hannity himself has frequently passed on conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, including a belief that he was born outside the United States and faked his birth certificate. Hannity has recently focused on a theory that Obama wrongfully spied on Donald Trump and that Democrats have invented the theory that Russia colluded with Trump’s campaign as a smear against the president.
The article did not last very long. Within a few hours of generating controversy it was taken down, and Sean Hannity provided a statement to Talking Points Memo claiming that the story was published before he could review it.