State Rep. Tim Couch, R-Hyden, republished fake news stories on his Facebook page this week alleging that President Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, are adopted, and suggesting that the president is gay and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, is a transgender man.
“What do you think?” Couch asked in a post he made Tuesday above a YouTube video titled “Obamas Kids Are Adopted!! I Found The Real Parents!!”
In another video that Couch posted hours earlier, evidence supporting the untrue claims about the Obama family rested largely on an offhand joke made by comedian Joan Rivers in 2014 as she emerged from a car. (“Joan Rivers dies about a week after making this statement,” the video added.) Other fake news stories from the same source tried to link Hillary Clinton to Satanism and promoted food that can allegedly boost your sex drive.
Late Tuesday, after the Herald-Leader drew attention to Couch’s Facebook page through a series of posts on Twitter, the fake news stories about the Obamas disappeared from his page. On Wednesday, the Facebook account was changed to the name of Couch’s wife.
Couch, who runs a grocery in Hyden, did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday. He is not related to the football quarterback of the same name, also from Hyden, who played for the University of Kentucky and the Cleveland Browns.
Voters first elected Couch in 2002 to represent the 90th House District, which includes Leslie and Clay counties and part of Laurel County. House Republican leaders have named him to lead two committees next year, the Special Subcommittee on Energy and the Federal Environment Regulation Impact Assessment Task Force.
House Speaker-elect Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, told reporters that he had not seen the fake news stories, so he would not comment. Asked whether the families of public officials are fair targets for political attacks, Hoover said, “I would refrain myself, personally, from doing that.”
Daniel Lowry, spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party, had plenty to say.
“Facts do matter, and spreading lies is wrong. I have no respect for anyone who would spread lies purposefully,” Lowry said. “Alternatively, if Tim Couch really believes this garbage, even though it’s clearly from fake news sites, then I have to wonder about his intelligence.”
“I would also ask Representative Couch what his point was,” Lowry said. “Assuming the stories were true and the daughters are adopted — that’s something you’re going to attack them for? Even though Gov. Matt Bevin himself has adopted children? Is Tim Couch just so angry that he wants to throw anything he can out there to try and hurt people?”
Another member of the new Republican House majority also has drawn attention to himself on Facebook. Dan Johnson, elected to represent Bullitt County’s 49th House District, posted inflammatory comments on Facebook about black people, Muslims and others during his campaign, including pictures of President Obama and his wife as apes. Although Hoover denounced Johnson’s public actions during the campaign and called on him to drop out, after the election, Hoover said he would welcome Johnson into the GOP caucus in Frankfort.