Hoaxes & Rumors

The Chris Kyle and Whitney Houston Flag Comparison

The Chris Kyle and Whitney Houston Flag Comparison

Did President Obama ordered flags to be flown at half mast upon singer Whitney Houston’s death, but not for the fallen sniper Chris Kyle? Today we’ll take a look at this comparison.

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It’s partially true.

Note that in 2014, a similar comparison was made between Whitney Houston and Shirley Temple Black.

Let’s first take a look at the graphic and the claims made in it:

Chris Kyle
American hero and former legendary Navy SEAL sniper. Known as the “Devil of Ramadi” with over 150 confirmed kills; the most in American military history, saving countless military and civilian lives.

Murdered in cold blood.
Obama does not even mention his name in the media.

Whitney Houston
American zero who drowned in her bath water after inducing a fatal concoction of drugs and alcohol.

Obama orders all flags be flown at half mast. 

Now let’s take a look at each of these figures and what is being claimed.

Whitney Houston

Flags were in fact flown at half mast over the state New Jersey in February 2012 in the honor of Whitney Houston. The claim that President Obama ordered flags to fly at half mast, however, is incorrect. This was done by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie defended his decision at a press conference in which he said, “She was a cultural icon in this state and her accomplishments in her life were a source of great pride for many people in this state and for this state as a whole. On that basis, I think she’s entitled to have that recognition made for her.”

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President Obama didn’t directly issue a statement on Houston’s death, but press secretary Jay Carney fielded a question on the President’s behalf. He stated: “I know that … well, I haven’t spoken with him about it, but… I know that his thoughts and prayers are with her family, especially her daughter. I mean, it’s a tragedy to lose somebody so talented at such a young age.”

Chris Kyle

This portion of the graphic appears to have been inspired by a Facebook note posted by Sarah Palin in which she noted that flags were not flying at half staff at Kyle’s memorial, and expressed hope that “our commander in chief pays his respects in some gesture of condolence for their comrade in arms who sacrificed so much to keep him and all of us safe.” Flags in fact were not flown for Chris Kyle upon his death, but this would have been more likely done at the discretion of Texas Governor Rick Perry. While the President does have the ability to proclaim flags be flown at half mast for notable deaths, it is a very rare event (see below).

President Obama did not issue a statement regarding the death of Chris Kyle. Governor Rick Perry did release a statement, found here.

The Flag Comparison Summary

  • Flags flown by Obama for Houston: False (they were flown only in New Jersey)
  • Obama did not issue statement on Kyle: True 

Rules for Flying Flags at Half Mast

Title 4 of the U.S. Code accounts for when a flag should be flown at half mast. These include:

  • For thirty days after the death of a current or former president or president-elect.
  • For ten days after the death of a current vice president, current or retired chief justice, or current speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • From the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a secretary of an executive or military department, a former vice president, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, or the governor of a state, territory, or possession.
  • On the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.
  • On Memorial Day until noon.
  • Upon presidential proclamation. Recent examples of this include the 9/11 attacks, the death of Pope John Paul II, and deaths of notable figures such as Neil Armstrong, Coretta Scott King, or Rosa Parks.

Bottom Line

The comparison above is misleading regarding flags being flown at half-staff. President Obama did not order flags to be flown for either person. On a state level, the New Jersey Governor ordered flags to be flown at half-staff for Whitney Houston while the Texas Governor did not order them to be flown at half-staff for Chris Kyle. In terms of the President’s statements about each figure, Obama did not directly mention either one, although his press secretary fielded a question about Houston and issued a statement on the President’s behalf.

There was no presidential proclamation for flags to be flown for Whitney Houston or Chris Kyle.

What do you think of this graphic? Is this comparison fair or unfair?

  • Nick

    Well said, Manning.

    SmarticlePartickes – it’s alarming to hear your point of view. I mean, I guess I knew there are people out there with that mindset, but I’ve never seen it. You are so incredibly out of touch with reality of what our armed forces go through or even what their purpose is, that you shouldn’t even be allowed to have an opinion. People like you are one of the things wrong with this country.

    Enjoy your life of dancing in the flowers and riding on unicorns. Too bad you weren’t one of the 150.

  • texastessie

    I agree with JRC: Instead of rejecting people, give them a chance to learn what you already know. I can’t count the number of times I have replied to a bogus forward with a polite correction and a link to the truth, asking that the link be sent with a retraction to everyone on the original emailing.
    If it was not forthcoming, I went to the original falsehood, and sent the link as ‘Reply to All’.

    BTW, is it still true that the term ‘half-mast’ is used for flags on water vessels and ‘half-staff’ is for flags on land?

  • Vicki

    Our current president is withdrawing our troops from the mideast. More kids won’t die for big oil. Just because I don’t want to send a kid to war doesn’t mean I am a ‘liberal ingrate’, it means we won’t be sending kids 3 or 4 times to hosile places that don’t want us there. There are a lot of oppressive regimes, China for one. Do you think we should invade there?

  • Chris

    This country is so full of liberal ingrates. Why the war was started, etc has 0 bearing on the respect you should have for soldiers like Kyle. He was following orders from people up the chain, including you lord, Obama. Additionally, do you seriously think the oppressive regimes don’t deserve our intervention. Although many woman and poor there are kept uneducated, they do need saving. The way middle eastern countries treat women and children is sickening. Regardless of the reasoning whatever president uses, I do believe we should be there to try to install a better government. Do you liberals and your utopian views think if we just leave everyone alone it’s going to all flowers and candy?

  • Ben

    The recap of true elements being topped with this “Flags Flown (only in New Jersey) for Houston: True” is a complete disgrace. The image in question does not state that flags were flown half mast only in New Jersey. It states that ALL flags were flown half mast, at OBAMA’s order. So that line is NOT an element. For that matter, the image does not state that Obama issued a statement about Whitney Houston. He did, but it’s not stated in the image, and it is NOT an element, either.

    • waffles

      You have a point that the recap should only direct the graphic, so we have edited it for clarity. Thanks.

  • Joe H.

    The graphic is a load of crap.

  • amerifascists

    It’s definitely not something to be proud of since we essentially started this war of aggression covertly in the 1980’s. The only reason USA isn’t being held accountable is because they’re winning the war right now. Look at the facts: aided afghanistan way back, ousted moderates in the mid-east way back, put american bases where people did not want or need them, invaded illegally, declared war unconstitutionally, drone strike civilians, illegal occupation, unilateral decision making… It makes me sick, USA is the largest global tyrant since the British empire, and all of it’s military are criminals.

    • Mr. Bitter

      If you don’t like the American way of life, pack up and get out.

  • damadtech

    Obama DID NOT issue a statement about Houston. That is a total twist on the truth and you know it. The Press Secretary responded to a question about her death and said the following: The President’s thoughts and prayers are with Whitney Houston’s family, especially her daughter. Press secretary Jay Carney says it’s hard not to be an admirer of the singer’s “immense talent.” And, he says it’s a tragedy to lose somebody so talented at such a young age. This is a canned statement whenever such things are brought up in a press conference. Seems no one screamed when Bush did likewise for actors and singers during his term that passed away. As usual, embellished rhetoric to satisfy an agenda.

    • waffles

      We have re-worded that portion article to better clarify this. Thanks for the comment.

  • steve

    What a shock. A member of the “tolerant party” not tolerating someone with a different opinion.

  • Marc

    Bunch of crap I unfriended a friend on Facebook for posting this.

    • Justin

      No, what’s a bunch of crap, is the fact that Obama doesn’t even express regards for an American hero.

    • JRC

      Instead of unfriending the person, what about help teaching that person how to research for the truth instead of listening to everything blindly? Maybe that person would benefit from learning how to dig for the truth and would learn something.

      • Timothy Campbell

        Joe, are you seriously proposing that Obama should have phoned up the legislature in New Jersey and scolded them for flying flags at half mast? Doesn’t he have better things to do with his time than that?

        • Dylan

          Rick perry is the one that didn’t care.

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