No, President Donald Trump didn’t coin the Rocket Man nickname for the leader of North Korea —British business magazine The Economist first used the nickname 11 years ago to describe then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the father of current leader Kim Jong Un.
The cover of the magazine’s July 8, 2006 issue featured Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011, blasting off into the sky, with the words “Rocket man” plastered across the bottom of the page. The elder Kim held similar aspirations as his son does of nuclear capabilities for the rogue Asian nation.
It's rocket man, JUNIOR, I believe pic.twitter.com/MCiy9UYVFJ— Simon Cox (@s1moncox) September 20, 2017
- Celebrity deaths 2018: All the stars we lost too soon 45 Pictures
- 10 finalists for TIME Person of the Year 2018 11 Pictures
But despite the evidence, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took to the airwaves on Wednesday to defend the Elton John-inspired “Rocket man” nickname as a Donald Trump original.
“Look, that's a President Trump original. As you know, he’s a master in branding,” Huckabee Sanders said on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday morning in response to a question about where the nickname came from. “This is a problem that we’ve been dealing with for 20 years. And Americans wanted somebody, a strong leader, somebody who wasn't going to put up with it anymore. That's one of the reasons I think Donald Trump won. They saw strength.”
Trump first uttered the nickname for Kim, who has recently been ramping up ballistic missile testing efforts, in a weekend Twitter post.
“I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2017
Trump repeated the nickname mocking Kim’s obsession with gaining nuclear warheads for North Korea, an obsession his father shared, on Tuesday during his address to the United Nations General Assembly.
“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said. “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
If the U.S. "is forced to defend itself for its allies, we'll have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," Pres. Trump says pic.twitter.com/00PUupXKBQ— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 19, 2017
It didn't take Twitter long to find evidence Trump had stolen the nickname.