On Monday, Washington Nationals player Stephen Strasburg used his Twitter account for the first time in 18 months to tweet those iconic words: “Fake News!”
Strasburg was reacting to a short video clip posted by Rudy Gersten, who is often published in The Washington Post’s D.C. Sports Blog. The clip shows the World Series MVP turning away from President Donald Trump’s outstretched hand.
“Strasburg left Trump hanging,” Gersten captioned the clip, adding a cry-laughing emoji.
Strasburg left Trump hanging. 😂 pic.twitter.com/LFNQTpCs89
— Rudy Gersten (@DCBarno) November 4, 2019
“#FakeNews!” Strasburg quote-tweeted the post three hours later:
— Stephen Strasburg (@stras37) November 4, 2019
A longer clip of the interaction shows Strasburg coming back to embrace Trump after turning away the first time:
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) November 5, 2019
Within minutes of posting the first “fake news” clip, Gersten posted a short clip of Strasburg shaking Trump’s hand, though the president is largely out of frame in the shot. He also retweeted Strasburg calling the clip “fake news.”
In one tweet, Gersten explained, “I said he left him hanging, which he did the first attempt, and which anybody who has [ever] gone in for an awkward high-five or handshake understood is a common joke. That it’s become a national story… just nuts.”
Moreover, when one Twitter user accused him of “editing” the video, Gersten replied: “What a load of bulls***. This is what I’m dealing with folks. I edited nothing. Stras did in fact leave him hanging, it was accidental but funny. I also tweeted them shaking hands and acknowledged immediately in the replies they shook. A total of 7 minutes between my tweets. JFC.”
Gersten also posted tweets in the days before the Nationals made it to the White House, warning people not to hate on players for choosing to either attend or stay home.
“One request of Nats fans: don’t attack the Nats for going to the White House monday. For many, a trip there is not about who’s in the Oval Office, it’s about the building & institution. For those like Sean Doolittle who choose not to go, that decision should be respected as well,” he wrote on Friday.
One request of Nats fans: don’t attack the Nats for going to the White House monday. For many, a trip there is not about who’s in the Oval Office, it’s about the building & institution. For those like Sean Doolittle who choose not to go, that decision should be respected as well.
— Rudy Gersten (@DCBarno) November 1, 2019
One player even more explicit in his Trump affection was Nationals’ catcher Kurt Suzuki, who donned a Trump “Make American Great Again” hat during the visit, as noted by The Daily Wire on Monday.
Suzuki shocked even Trump when he threw on the red hat after being called up to the podium by the president. “I love you all! Thank you,” he told the crowd.
"I love you all! Thank you!"
Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki walks up to a microphone outside the White House and whips out a #MAGA hat.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) November 4, 2019
Sean Doolittle, however, was one player who refused the invite to the White House.
“There’s a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country,” he told The Washington Post. “My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we’ve done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the ‘s***hole countries.’ At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be there with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.”
The clip of Strasburg “snubbing” Trump was also posted by left-wing political commentators, such as Edward Hardy; though he was not quote-tweeted by the baseball star.