In Anti-Germ News, Media Gush That Obama 'Popularized' the Fist Bump, Like It Started in 2008

Fun (if obvious) medical news emerged on Monday that fist bumps are much healthier than germ-spreading handshakes. But the liberal media couldn’t report it without dragging in the cool factor of Barack Obama.

Take AP’s Mike Stobbe, as posted on The Huffington Post: "So fist bumps — popularized by Barack Obama and others — seem to be the wisest greeting, especially during cold and flu season, said researcher David Whitworth of Aberystwyth University in Wales." CBSNews.com led its story with the "popularized" claim:

Fist bumping, a form of greeting popularized by President Obama, spreads significantly fewer germs than the more traditional alternative, according to a new study.

Or take Time magazine. Next to a large photo of Barack and Michelle bumping fists, the Time headline was “Bumping Fists Spreads Fewer Germs Than a Handshake, Study Says,” and the headline was “Plus, they're cooler”.

Time’s Charlotte Alter
oozed: “President Barack Obama’s famous fist bumps may have health benefits as well as a cool factor, because a new study shows that greeting someone with your knuckles is much more hygienic than shaking their hand.”

Terrence McCoy at The Washington Post also gushed a bit in passing along the germ study:

In the modern zeitgeist of American politics, few moments carry more pop culture clout than that of The Fist Bump. Even the uninitiated surely recall “The fist bump heard ’round the world,” as the Washington Post put it the day afterward.

[This builds journalistic ring-kissing upon ring-kissing, which may not be hygienic.]

It involved two fists and a future first couple. As Barack Obama walked across the St. Paul, Minn., stage to accept the Democratic nomination in June of 2008, he gently bumped his fist into his wife’s. “Dap, fist pound, whatever you want to call it — it’s definitely something we’re not used to seeing on the national political stage,” wrote the Post’s Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts.


Kim Painter at USA Today called Obama an “august” figure in his first-bumping: "Whitworth concedes that the perceived informality of fist bumps and high fives might be a problem. Figures as august as President Obama and the Dalai Lama have used them, he notes – 'but I couldn't imagine the British prime minister doing that.'"

Reuters was more low-key: "The fist bump appears to enjoy the support of both U.S. President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, both of whom have been seen enthusiastically using the greeting, the study notes."

Liberal Obama-loving journalists may feel especially proud after their outrage that former Fox News anchor E.D. Hill called it a "terrorist fist jab." That led to a New Yorker parody cover that liberals hated.

The New York Times acknowledged in 2012 that the fist bump began much earlier, at least back to the 1970s, but their expert Scott Williams "believes that Barack Obama deserves credit for reinventing the fist bump."

In 2010, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on its favorite things about Cardinals star Stan Musial: “Musial may have invented -- or at least first popularized -- the so-called 'fist bump.' Stan came up with it as an option to shaking hands. Musial was convinced that he was catching too many colds by picking up germs while shaking thousands of hands each year, so he adopted the fist bump as a friendly alternative.”

Whatever its origins, the move was not first "popularized" by Barack Obama.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis