Jesus walking on water is recorded in three of the Gospels of the New Testament. Walking on water (a miracle) is often compared to swimming (a normal activity). A joke circulated in 1945 that Admiral Chester Nimitz cautioned General Douglas MacArthur not to tell anyone that he couldn’t swim. MacArthur replied that Nimitz shouldn’t tell anyone that MacArthur couldn’t walk on water.
In 1974, the Washington (DC) Post frequently attacked president Richard Nixon (1913-1994) over the Watergate scandal. A popular joke (said in May 1974 by American comedian Milton Berle) was that if Nixon had walked on water across the Potomac River to the presidential yacht Sequoia, the Post headline the next day would have been: “Nixon Can’t Swim.” Other politicians have made similar remarks about the media.
“Haters will see you walk on water and say it’s because you can’t swim” has been printed on many GIFs.
Wikipedia: Jesus walking on water
Jesus walking on water is one of the miracles of Jesus in the New Testament. There are accounts of this in three of the Gospels.
This story, following the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, tells how Jesus sent the disciples by ship back to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while he remained behind, alone, to pray. Night fell and the sea arose as the ship became caught in a wind storm. After rowing against the wind most of the night, the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea. They were frightened, thinking they were seeing a spirit, but when Jesus told them not to be afraid, they were reassured. After Jesus entered the ship, the wind ceased, and they arrived at land. According to the version in the Gospel of Matthew, Peter “walked on the water” towards Jesus, but he became afraid, began to sink, and Jesus rescued him.
27 November 1945, The Tar Heel (Chapel Hill, NC), “Quips and Kernels from Other Points” by Dottie Marshall and Gloria Gautier, pg. 2, cols. 4-5:
Admiral Chester Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur were on a row-boat fishing trip in mid-Pacific mulling over the problems of amphibious warfare when the boat was upset and the two dignitaries were dumped into the drink. After some flailing around, however, the boat was righted and Gen. MacArthur hauled Adm. Nimitz to safety.
“Mac, if you don’t mind I’d rather you wouldn’t say anything about this,” Admiral Nimitz said, “since it wouldn’t sound so good around headquarters for the men to learn that I can;t swim.”
“Oh, I won’t tell anyone,” MacArthur assured him, if you won’t say anything. After all, I don’t want my men to know that I can’t walk on water.”
-- Daily Texan.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
22 March 1946, New York (NY) Post, “Elsa Maxwell’s Week-End Round-up” by Elsa Maxwell, pg. 2, col. 4:
The Duke of Marlborough, who also sailed, told me two good stories: During the war Gen. Montgomery and Gen, Eisenhower came to a river and there was no way of getting across. Monty said to Ike, “Let’s swim.” Eisenhower looked doubtful and replied, “Just between ourselves, Monty, I can’t swim, but don’t tell anybody.” “Well,” said Monty, “I won’t if you won’t tell that I can’t walk on water.”
22 May 1974, The Times (San Mateo, CA), “Lyons Den” by Leonard Lyons, pg. 37, col. 7:
Milton Berle dined at Onde’s and said President Nixon is in dire need of an expert publicist to improve his press image: “Right now, if he announced plans to walk across the Potomac, most papers would say ‘Nixon can’t swim.’”
26 May 1974, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, pg. A-12, col. 1:
WATERGATE IS GIVING fresh currency to some old jokes. Within the administration they say that if RIchard Nixon were to rise one night from his seat on his yacht and walk across the Potomac River to the shore, the newspaper headlines next day would read: “Nixon Can’t Swim.”
-- CHARLES BARTLETT
22 July 1974, Washington (DC) Post, pg. A20, col. 7 ad:
“Nixon Can’t Swim!”
That’s the way one participant in last week’s National Town meeting described the way The Washington Post would headline the story if President Nixon walked across the Potomac to get to the Sequoia.
27 April 1982, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), “Rain and light snow, mixed with comedy” by John F. Kelly, pg. B1, col. 1:
At other times, he can’t resist tossing in an outrageous pun or a mossy old joke illustrating the can’t-win attitude most forecasters eventually seem to adopt:
President Nixon invited members of the press aboard the presidential yacht to show them he could walk on water. The next day, the headline read: “Nixon Can’t Swim.”
Google News Archive
12 May 1991, The Item (Sumter, SC), “Katharine Graham turns over reins of Washinton Post” by Harry F. Rosenthal (AP), pg. 1D, cols. 2-3:
When the Post was pursuing Richard Nixon in the Watergate affair, a joke made the rounds that if Nixon walked on water, the Post would headline “Nixon Can’t Swim.”
28 June 1991, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Musical director knows how to keep young actors in line” by Alex Thien, pg. 1C:
BARRY LYNCH says he can understand Vice President Dan Quayle’s aversion to the media, especially for the beating he takes from national network television anchormen.
“It was pretty much the same with Ronald Reagan,” Barry says. “I can remember him saying that if he could walk on water, Dan Rather would accuse him of not being able to swim.”
RT @NickCannon4Real: quote of the day “IF THE HATERS SAW ME WALK ON WATER… THEY’D PROBABLY SAY I CAN’T SWIM!” LET’S GO!!
4:18 PM - 9 Mar 2009
Jacoby A M DuBose
If I could walk on water they’d say I can’t swim. Haters! Best quote I’ve heard all day. Run with me or run from me.
1:07 PM - 5 Nov 2009
Haters will see you walk on water and say its cause you can’t swim… Let them be your motivation…
3:07 AM - 30 Nov 2011
@SebGorka @pwpcgirl Yea. Recalling the old joke: if Trump walked on water the MSM would say he couldn’t swim. #TrumpPence2016
6:41 PM - 3 Oct 2016
New York City • Media/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Tuesday, October 04, 2016 • Permalink