MSNBC host Chris Hayes mocked a Republican political action committee on Friday for airing a commercial backing Sen. Russ Johnson (R-WI) in party by using a photo of President Barack Obama purportedly shaking hands with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani.
“This is really amazing — can you believe that President Obama actually shaking hands with the president of Iran?” Hayes asked sarcastically. “Of course, he never did that.”
In reality, Hayes explained, the two leaders have never met in person.
“It would be monumental news if they had,” he said, adding that the picture appeared to have been photoshopped from an image of Obama meeting then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2011.
The All In host also pointed out that Restoration PAC, the Illinois-based group behind the commercial, reacted somewhat defensively when asked about the discrepancy by Buzzfeed.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Restoration spokesperson Dan Curry said on Thursday. “You’re saying that’s a photoshop — can you explain what you’re talking about?”
Curry also didn’t take well to Buzzfeed pointing out that the ad, which focused on Johnson’s opposition to a prospective US-Iran nuclear deal, actually used propaganda video released by the Islamic State terrorist group.
“So you’re saying that media companies can use ISIS, what you call propaganda imagery, but political campaigns can’t use ISIS imagery, no matter what the message they’re trying to portray?” Curry said. “That just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s just nonsensical.”
Curry’s group later tried to defend the ad in a statement to Factcheck.org, saying the fake photo was “in circulation widely on the Internet” and that Buzzfeed had failed to demonstrate it was not authentic, an argument Hayes called “hilarious.”
“If Obama and Rouhani managed to sneak off to get together for a secret ‘grip-and-grin,’ that would really be something,” he said.
Restoration boasted in a separate statement that the ad’s director, Rick Reed, was behind the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” that cast aspersions against John Kerry’s military record during his 2004 presidential campaign against then-President George W. Bush.
Watch Hayes’ commentary, as aired on MSNBC on Friday, below.