Fact check: False Theodore Roosevelt quote about liberals and conservatives

Posts circulated on social media attribute a quote on liberals and conservatives to the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. The quote, however, is falsely attributed to him.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The posts show a photograph of Roosevelt alongside text which reads: “To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.” The posts do not point to a source for the quotation, nor a possible date.

Examples of the claim are visible here , here and here .

On social media, users have responded with conflicting reactions. Some have concurred with the sentiment (one posted: “Gosh…that’s dead on”), while others have disputed the authenticity of the quotation.

Reuters found no mention of this quote among those compiled by the Theodore Roosevelt Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to perpetuating his memory and ideals ( here ).

The quote did not appear among the list of notable quotations listed by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University, another organization working to preserve Roosevelt’s legacy ( here ).

In the past, the quotation has been attributed to other statesmen like Winston Churchill, ( here , here ). On other social media sites, the quotation has circulated with attribution to Roosevelt, as anonymous, or attributed to an “unknown” source since 2009 ( here ).

In 2013, Barry Popik, a contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Yale Book of Quotations and the Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, found that the quote had been in print since about 2007 ( here ), as first reported by Politifact ( here ). “Well after Roosevelt’s lifetime,” Popik noted in a blog entry.

Throughout the years, other fact-checkers have debunked this claim, ( here , here ).


False. The quote on liberals and conservatives attributed to Theodore Roosevelt is false.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here