Right-wing media reacted to a recent Pride event held by the Biden administration by spreading false claims that a Pride flag hanging on the White House violated U.S. flag code, which states that no other flag “may be placed above the flag of the United States.”
Images shared through social media, print outlets, and cable news depicted a Pride flag and two U.S. flags on the front of the White House but failed to include an even higher flag located at the top of the building that kept the lower display within flag regulation.
The section of U.S. flag code in question is actually silent on the relative position of the flag as part of a display of flags draped vertically (as opposed to horizontally, from a flagpole), specifying only that the blue field of stars should be on the observer’s left and “suspended so that its folds fall free,” as was the case in the White House display.
President Joe Biden held the event to coincide with Pride Month, and amid a recent rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation. He announced renewed support for LGBTQ Americans at a press conference last week and then repeated this messaging at the White House event, promising to protect Americans' rights to be themselves, to make their own health care decisions, and to raise their children.
The day after the celebration, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) tweeted that the White House display violated U.S. flag code. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) echoed these claims, saying also that the flag represented a “twisted agenda.” As the claim spread on Twitter, the legislators’ statements made their way through the right-wing media ecosystem and fueled print articles smearing the event.
By Monday morning, the misinformation had made its way to cable news. At 5 a.m. on Fox & Friends First, Washington Examiner editor Kaylee McGhee White repeated the claim, adding that the flag sends a clear message: “This ideology runs America. It's the new state religion.”