How hard can it be to not screw with the Olympics for any given U.S. presidential administration? Evidently such is beyond the abilities of the administration currently in Washington, D.C. By their very association with the U.S. Olympic delegation, they’ve proven contentious.
In recent weeks, a controversy has unfolded after Vice President Mike Pence was criticized by one of the first openly gay members of the U.S. Winter Olympic team, figure skater Adam Rippon.
Rippon was asked about the decision to have Pence help lead the U.S. delegation during this year’s opening ceremonies at the Olympics, a question he responded to by mocking the vice president for his previously reported support of gay “conversion therapy,” a sham form of therapy that attempts to turn LGBT people straight.
Pence has now taken to Twitter to respond to the skater, misrepresenting the facts of past allegations against him of support for gay conversion therapy in the process.
Late into the night on Wednesday, Pence posted a tweet reading:
‘Headed to the Olympics to cheer on
#TeamUSA. One reporter trying to distort 18 yr old nonstory to sow seeds of division. We won’t let that happen! #FAKENEWS. Our athletes are the best in the world and we are for ALL of them!’
Although Pence tried to come out as the good guy after posting his message, trying to jump on the Trump train of criticism of the media while staying away from criticizing Rippon himself, there’s a major problem here.
The story of Pence’s alleged support of gay conversion therapy isn’t just a “nonstory” as the vice president alleges.
As USA Today reported, on Pence’s 2000 Congressional campaign website, the eventual national second-in-command stated:
‘Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.’
There’s not really any ambiguity there. LGBTQ persons should be accepted, not taught to hate themselves and change their feelings, and yet, our national leadership has sunk to such lows that this is the conversation we’re having.
Again managing to fit in a ridiculously childish attack on the media, Pence tweeted a message directly to Rippon following the first one.
‘I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of
#TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!’
Pence posted his message following reporting about the failure of alleged private efforts on his part to set up a meeting with Rippon.
Although neither party would directly comment on the matter, USA Today reported that Rippon rebuffed the vice president’s efforts.
This year’s Winter Olympics, to be held in South Korea, will be proceeding in the shadow of the ongoing crisis over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. The Olympics have provided the context for a glimmer of hope of reconciliation between the two countries to point of the North Korean dictator’s sister joining the North Korean delegation to the Games.
Check out Twitter’s response to VP Pence below.
Featured Image via Ethan Miller/ Getty Images