Donald Trump has been accused of “sending a message” by choosing Elvis Presley to receive a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom – 41 years after his death.

While it may come as a surprise Presley hadn’t already received the honour, Trump’s decision to extend the distinction to the cultural icon has raised a few eyebrows.

The Washington Post’s pop culture critic Chris Richards called Trump’s move “a little nod to the good old days, back when black visionaries could invent rock-and-roll, but only a white man could become the king.”

“Yes, Trump is sending a message here,” Richards wrote. “Presley was a hero to most, but does hanging a medal onto one of the most decorated ghosts in popular culture change anything at all about his complicated legacy or how we think about his music today? No. Does it show us how our president continues to use his brazen lack of imagination as a cultural cudgel? Yes.”

During the ceremony, Trump managed to fluff a famous quote that referred to Presley as he recalled the time he saw the singer perform live.

Overexcited fans were “ripping the place apart, screaming“ and. ”were going crazy”, Trump said. To calm the crowd, he claimed an announcement was made that “Elvis has left the house”. The oft-repeated phrase is actually “Elvis has left the building”.

As well as Presley, who the White House described as “an enduring American icon”, there were six other recipients of the award.

Baseball legend Babe Ruth, National Football League (NFL) hall-of-famers Roger Staubach and Alan Page, retiring Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were among the others given the award.

During the ceremony, Donald Trump appeared to praise Justice Scalia – and his widow, Maureen, who accepted the medal posthumously for her husband – for their prowess in having children.


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