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Obama Says 'James Flacco.' The Internet Says, Thank You

Actor James Franco (left), seen here with <em>The Interview</em> co-star Seth Rogen, was called "James Flacco" by President Obama Friday. Afterward, the jokes poured in.
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Actor James Franco (left), seen here with The Interview co-star Seth Rogen, was called "James Flacco" by President Obama Friday. Afterward, the jokes poured in.

It was an honest mistake. But when President Obama meant to talk about James Franco and instead said "James Flacco" — on a Friday marking the full-on start of the holidays, no less — the slip was eagerly received by people on Twitter and elsewhere.

The remark came as the president spoke about the FBI's belief that North Korea is responsible for a hacking attack on Sony Pictures, in retaliation for its now-canceled spoof comedy, The Interview.

Here's what Obama said during his end-of-year news conference:

"I think it says something interesting about North Korea, that they decided to have the state mount an all-out assault on a movie studio because of a satirical movie, starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco.

"I love Seth. And I love James. But the notion that that was a threat to them I think gives you a sense of the kind of regime we're talking about here."

Shortly after the flub, NFL quarterback Joe Flacco wrote to actor James Franco, "Welcome to the family, brother."

After the president spoke, the name James Flacco became a top-trending topic on Twitter. Several people Photoshopped images that combined aspects of the actor and the Ravens quarterback. And some simply took Obama's slip to another level, as Slate quickly published a name generator to let people "Obamify" their name.

For example, the rapper Ghostface Killah came out as "Ghostface Kaepernick."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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