40 seconds after mentioning it in his speech, the President of the United States went back to joking.
From the Daily Mail:
President Barack Obama provoked fury in the U.S. on Thursday by casually devoting less than a minute to the deaths of 295 people aboard a Malaysian airliner, as he began an often jokey 16-minute speech about the need to expand America’s transportation infrastructure.
There are no confirmed American dead, an earlier Reuters report claimed that it was feared that as many as 23 U.S. citizens had perished.
Obama declared in Wilmington, Delaware that 'it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy,' but not before enthusiastically declaring that 'it is wonderful to be back in Delaware.'
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Condolences? Obama briefly mentioned the plane crash in eastern Ukraine on Thursday before launching into his prepared remarks and blaming Republicans for slow-walking transportation spending
The president's speech went on as planned, complete with laugh lines, despite the deaths of nearly two dozen U.S. citizens in what appears to have been a deliberate missile attack
Boston Globe reporter Matt Viser captured the online reactions to Obama's statement about the downed airliner
'Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority.'
'And I've directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian governemnt. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and passengers, wherever they call home.
Obama then jarringly quickly returned to his prepared remarks.
'I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction' he said. 'Give Jeremie a big round of applause.'
'It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden. We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today. We've got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here. Give them a big round of applause. We love them.'
Damage control: Obama spoke to Ukrainian President Poroshenko while he flew on Air Force One between Wilmington, Delaware and New York City, and the White House quickly distributed a photo
Obama also acknowledged the presence of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew with a joke.
'Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money,' he said, 'although it's kind of illegible. We teased him when he first became treasury secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom.'
From there he launched into a 16-minute speech about transportation projects he wants Republicans to fund, complaining bitterly about their objections to his end-runs around the federal legislature.
'When I have a chance to help communities like Wilmington, I’m going to do it,' he said, as cable news networks focused on the lives lost in Eastern Ukraine.
'That’s when my administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won’t act. And so far, the only response we’ve gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit. They're suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job.'
'That's disappointing,' Obama said. 'It’s a political stunt.'
Twitter erupted, with thousands of users expressing emotions ranging from disappointment to disgust.
Former CNN host Piers Morgan reacted with his typical barbs.
'President Obama massively dropped the ball just now,' Morgan tweeted. '23 Americans killed and he says "it looks like a terrible tragedy" then back to jokes?'
'I agree,' responded singer Josh Groban. 'Bad prep. I was shocked.'
National Review reporter Charles Cooke tweeted: 'Shorter Obama: 'Something awful has happened with a plane. It’s awful. Awful. Republicans are bastards for not funding new airports".'
Twitter reactions to Barack Obama?s statement that MH17 'might be a terrible tragedy' came in quickly, including from some celebrities
MEP Daniel Hannan, an Englishman well-known to American audiences, vented his political spleen
Post-speech glow: After 16 minutes of talk about infrastructure spending, Obama grinned for cameras while other world leaders focused on the mass-murder
Debris: Smoke rises up at the plane's crash site near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine on Thursday afternoon
Lunch as usual: With his national security advisers tracking developments in Ukraine, Obama greeted people at the Charcoal Pit restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware before delivering his speech
Traveling in Denver, this reporter heard gasps from guests watching a hotel lobby television as Obama spoke.
One remarked: 'A tragedy is when you lose control and fly into a mountainside. This is mass-murder. What a disappointment.'
'His distance from reality is just bizarre,' said another.
Daniel Hannan, the British member of Europe's parliament who has rankled liberals in a series of American speaking tours, tweeted his own disgust.
'Listening to Obama's statement [on] the airline tragedy, my mind went back to Reagan 31 years ago,' he wrote.
'How America's leaders have shrunk.'
Obama finished his speech by saying 'Let’s build some bridges. Let’s build some roads. God bless America.'
Matt Viser, a Boston Globe reporter on the scene, tweeted a devastating reaction.
'Obama, in sum: A plane crashed. It may be tragic. We're trying to see if US citizens were on board. Hey, great to be in Delaware!' he wrote.
The president's next stop after Wilmington was New York City, where he headlines a Democratic Party fundraiser Thursday evening. Tickets for the cozy event go for as much as $32,400.
News of the plane crash reached the White House before Obama left for Delaware on Thursday morning. He ignored a question, shouted by a reporter as he departed, asking what he knew about the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.
Business Insider reported that the Kremlin's official description of a Thursday morning phone call between Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin said Obama learned of the crash from him.
House Speaker John Boehner released a brief statement that focused exclusively on the plane crash without combining it with domestic policy.
'Many innocents were killed today. It is horrifying, and we await the facts,' he said. 'Right now, we should all take a moment to reflect, count our blessings, and convey our prayers to the loved ones of the victims.'
Arizona Republican Sen. Jon McCain reacted to the crash with deep-seated anger.
'It's an outrageous and incredible act of terrorism,' he said, according to Roll Call. 'People [should] be held responsible, and not only the people directly responsible, but indirectly,'
Later on MSNBC he told host Andrea Mitchell that 'if it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing this was a Ukrainian war plane, I think there’s going to be hell to pay – and there should be.'
Vice President Joe Biden spoke to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to offer U.S. assistance to help determine what happened in crash, the White House said.
President Obama also spoke with Poroshenko, and with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak while he was aboard Air Force One.
Next stop: fundraiser! Obama went from Delaware to New York City for a Democratic cash-haul at Trump Place Apartments, where approximately 30 supporters are contributing up to $32,400 each
'Tragedy, atrocity, potay-to, potah-to'
After learning of the missile attack on MH17 from Russian president Vladimir Putin, Obama kept his lunch plans in Delaware
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters late on Thursday that Obama spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry when he arrived in New York to discuss the plane crash, as well as Israel's ground offensive in the Gaza strip.
'Afterward,' Earnest said, 'the president convened a secure call with senior members of his national security team ... The president was briefed on our ongoing efforts to support the Ukrainian government and a prompt international investigation into what took place.'
CIA Director John Brennan, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Stephanie O'Sullivan, Deputy National Security Adviser Lisa Monaco and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes all took part.
Malaysia Airlines tweeted Thursday that it lost contact with the flight as it was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over Ukrainian airspace.
A Ukrainian official said the plane had been shot down as it flew over the country.
Both the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russia separatists it is fighting in the region denied shooting down any plane. The fate of the 280 passengers and crew was not immediately known.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet). He said it was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher, which can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet).
The Donetsk region government said a plane crashed Thursday near a village called Grabovo, which it said is currently under the control of armed pro-Russian separatists.
But Poroshenko said his country's armed forces didn't shoot at any airborne targets.
'We do not exclude that this plane was shot down, and we stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not take action against any airborne targets,' he said. 'We are sure that those who are guilty in this tragedy will be held responsible.'
Separatist leader Andrei Purgin told The Associated Press that he was certain that Ukrainian troops had shot the plane down but gave no explanation or proof for his statement.
Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed that it 'has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace.'
It was the second time that a Malaysia Airlines plane was lost in less than six months. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It has not been found, but the search has been concentrated in the Indian Ocean far west of Australia.
Debris: A part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen after it crashed
There have been disputes over planes being shot down earlier in the region.
On Wednesday evening, a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane, Ukrainian authorities said Thursday, adding to what Kiev says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the separatist insurgents.
Security Council spokesman Andrei Lysenko said the pilot of the Sukhoi-25 jet hit by the air-to-air missile was forced to bail after his jet was shot down.
Pro-Russia rebels, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for strikes Wednesday on two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said the second jet was hit by a portable surface-to-air missile, but added the pilot was unscathed and managed to land his plane safely
Moscow denies Western charges that is supporting the separatists or sowing unrest in its neighbor. The Russian Defense Ministry couldn't be reached for comment Thursday about the Ukrainian jet being shot down.