Fact check: A look at Biden’s first year in misrepresentations

Biden’s fanciful or embellished stories about his own history were the most memorable lies of his first year in office. They weren’t the only ones though.

The president has also made multiple misrepresentations on important political issues, including three topics that have taken up much of his time: the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic.

And Biden got it wrong time and time again when he spoke about a wide assortment of facts and figures — sometimes in ways that seemed unintended, but other times in ways that helped him get it right. make a political point.

So Biden is not Trump. That said, dozens of false statements by the President of the United States are no small feat. And given that Biden added dozens of other claims that were misleading or lacking in important context, he provided more than enough material to keep fact-checkers on their toes.

Here’s a summary of Biden’s first year in vagueness. The White House declined to comment for this article; he has already commented for individual fact checks on some of the false claims we discuss again below.

Misrepresentation of own past

Biden made a series of claims about his own past that simply weren’t true. It was these easy-to-understand, hard-to-defend personal lies — more so than his false assertions about complex political issues or murky statistics, which supporters might more easily dismiss as bona fide errors — that provided the best ammunition for opponents. seeking to portray him as a deceiver.
And like some of Trump’s big stories from his past, Biden tended to be peripheral to his message. In other words, he was damaging his reputation for little possible gain.
While speaking in November to tech college students standing near a truck, Biden claimed, ‘I used to drive a tractor-trailer’, but only for ‘part of the summer’ . It sounded like something he said at a Mack Trucks factory in July, when he claimed, “I used to ride an 18-wheeler, man,” adding, “I gotta do it.” There is no evidence that Biden ever drove a big truck; the White House had previously told CNN that he once worked as a school bus driver (which is not an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer) and that as a senator in 1973 he spent a night aboard a cargo truck (do not drive it).
Biden repeatedly told a story about a supposed conversation during his vice presidency with an old friend, an Amtrak train conductor, that could not have happened because the man was dead at the time. He has repeatedly boasted of having traveled “17,000 miles” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, although that number is not even close to the truth.
Biden distracted from his voting rights message with the unsubstantiated claim last week he had made before that he was arrested during a civil rights protest; in some of the earlier versions of the story, he simply claimed that a policeman took him home after a protest. (There is evidence that Biden participated in some civil rights activities as a youth, but no record of arrest.)

And Biden told two different inaccurate stories while trying to emphasize his connection to the Jewish community.

At a September event honoring high holy days, Biden told Jewish leaders he remembered “hanging out” and “going” to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, site of an anti-Semitic massacre in 2018; he had spoken to the synagogue’s rabbi by phone in 2019 but had never been there. At a Hanukkah event in December, Biden claimed that the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir had invited him to meet her during the 1967 Six-Day War (he actually met her weeks before the war). Yom Kippur six years later) and, more significantly, that she had wanted him to be “the liaison between her and the Egyptians about the Suez, etc.”
There is no evidence that Meir ever intended to use a 30-year-old rookie US senator as a “liaison” with a major adversary.

False claims about Afghanistan

Biden has been plagued over the summer by his chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. And he made a variety of misrepresentations as he tried to defend his handling of the situation – further undermining his authority on an issue he was already struggling to convince the public about.
In August, the president said, “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point, with al-Qaeda gone? Al-Qaeda had been degraded in Afghanistan, but it had not “disappeared” – as a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged on camera the same day. In an interview that week, Biden defended the U.S. pullout in part by saying the concept of nation-building in Afghanistan “never made sense to me” — even though, in fact, he had explicitly advocated nation building in the early years. of the war, both in Afghanistan and more widely.
In July, when Biden was under pressure to quickly relocate Afghans who had helped American troops, he said “the law does not allow” Afghan translators to come to the United States to wait for their applications to be processed. Visa. But immigration law experts immediately said that wasn’t true, given the administration’s power to grant “conditional release” and, indeed, the Biden administration ended up using the parole later that summer for doing what Biden claimed was not allowed.
In December, Biden said in another interview that “I’ve been against this war in Afghanistan from the very beginning.” Although he ultimately opposed the war, he was not opposed to it from the start – as fact checkers pointed out when he made similar remarks during his presidential campaign.

Misrepresentations about the economy

The state of the economy was a key rhetorical battleground between Biden and his critics: He argued it was thriving; they argued it was a failure. And while both sides often cited valid data points, the president also made false claims to bolster his case.

Biden has at times overstated progress and understated problems. Asked at a CNN town hall in July about auto price inflation, he claimed the cost of a car had “sort of gone back to what it was before the pandemic”; the cost had actually risen significantly since late 2019 and early 2020. In an economics speech in November, he vastly exaggerated the extent of the decline in the unemployment rate during his tenure.
In an attempt to sell his economic policies, Biden sometimes misrepresented what experts had said about them. In May alone, he falsely claimed there was a consensus among economists on how many jobs his U.S. jobs plan would create, vastly overestimated the number of jobs that Moody’s Analytics in particular had predicted the plan would create and falsely claimed that the last five Federal Reserve leaders had said the plan would produce economic growth – misrepresenting both the content and the authorship of an article that was in fact written by five former heads of the Internal Revenue Service.
Later that year, Biden misrepresented another estimate of Moody’s jobs. And he repeatedly omitted the key phrase “longer term” from a claim by Nobel Prize-winning economists that his $1.9 trillion “Building Back Better” program would “mitigate inflationary pressures at more long term” – leaving Americans to believe that these economists could have said that his program would reduce the inflation that is hurting their bank accounts today.

False statements about the Covid-19 pandemic

Many of Biden’s freshman speeches were devoted to the Covid-19 pandemic. Biden was almost incomparably more specific on this topic than Trump, tending to factually convey the seriousness of the situation rather than matching his predecessor’s fantastical rhetoric about bad numbers not actually being bad numbers and how the virus would simply disappear.

But Biden has also made a few false claims on this topic.

At the CNN town hall in July, Biden made the categorically inaccurate promise that “you’re not going to get Covid” if you get vaccinated. It was clear even before the emergence of the Omicron variant that vaccinated people were still infected with the virus, even though the vaccines made them much less likely to become seriously ill; vaccinated people from the President’s own staff had been infected. Biden also went overboard at town hall when he flatly promised that “if you get vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the intensive care unit, and you’re not going to die.” “; these findings also occur, although they are much less common in vaccinated people.
Biden has sometimes exaggerated about his administration’s work to get Americans vaccinated – misleadingly downplaying the Trump administration’s own vaccine purchases and, in May, exaggerating the comparison of the US vaccination rate with those of the rest of the world . And he made various mistakes while discussing facts and figures related to the pandemic.
In February, Biden claimed ‘suicides are on the rise’ amid pandemic; experts said at the time that the claim was premature and turned out to be false (although suicide rates have increased for specific demographic groups). In October, the president erroneously told Americans that there were “more than 800,000” vaccination sites in the country; he had added an extra 0 to the correct number he usually used, 80,000.

Misrepresentations in unscripted settings

When Biden stuck to speeches prepared and approved by his staff, he tended to be factual (though certainly not perfect). When he ad-libed or engaged in off-the-cuff exchanges with reporters and citizens, he was more likely to sprinkle inaccuracies – make false or misleading statements about everything from his handling of the situation on the southern border to the political history of Virginia through gun laws. the size of a tax break for racehorse owners.
During Biden’s first 100 days in the Oval Office, he was repeatedly incorrect or misleading in describing the actions of the Trump administration.
And he made a particularly notable misleading claim during that early period. At a heated moment in the national debate over the Georgia Republicans’ new election law, Biden did a television interview in which he criticized the law in part by misrepresenting what it says.

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