Washington Post awards Biden 'Four Pinocchios' for false claim he was 'arrested' during civil rights protest

Media top headlines January 13

In media news today, Associated Press tells staff to ‘avoid emphasizing COVID case counts, the Economic Council director urges the media to focus on wage increases instead of inflation, and the mainstream media drags Rand Paul for clashing with Dr. Fauci.

The Washington Post awarded President Biden its harshest fact-check rating of “Four Pinocchios” over his false claim this week that he was “arrested” for the first time as a teenager while attending a civil rights protest in Delaware. 

In a Thursday piece headlined, “Biden claims yet another arrest for which there’s little evidence,” Glenn Kessler, The Post’s resident fact-checker, wrote that Biden was “not always a reliable source” when it came to his “exaggerated” stories, and that too many elements of his claim didn’t add up. 

“I did not walk in the shoes of generations of students who walked these grounds. But I walked other grounds. Because I’m so damn old, I was there as well. You think I’m kidding, man. It seems like yesterday the first time I got arrested,” Biden told the crowd at his Tuesday speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

According to Kessler, Biden appeared to be referencing a story he told on a number of occasions about a conversation he had with his mother in 2008 when deciding whether he should accept former President Obama’s offer to become his running mate. 

Joe Biden spoke about Democrats voting legislation in Georgia.

In the story, Biden’s mother reminded him of when he was a teenager and went to support a Black family who purchased a home in a town not far from where the Biden’s lived amid a protest against the family moving in. 

Kessler noted that Biden told the story with several variations over time, with some referencing him getting “arrested” by the police, and others saying they brought him home to his parents to keep him from getting in trouble. Other variations included his age, as well as the protest location. 

Kessler added that Biden also never made any mention of the arrest in his memoirs, even when discussing the same conversation with his mother. 

President Barack Obama smiles alongside Vice President Joe Biden before signing health care insurance reform legislation during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Kessler detailed various news reports mentioning protests in the area at the time over a house purchase by a Black family and concluded that too many elements of Biden’s story didn’t add up. 

“The primary source for this story is Biden — and we’ve learned over the years that he is not always a reliable source,” Kessler wrote. “He appears to be citing his mother to enhance his civil rights credentials — which we have noted he has exaggerated before — but too many elements do not add up to give this ‘arrest’ more credibility than his previous claims of getting in trouble with the law.” 

“The president earns Four Pinocchios,” he added. 

Biden was forced to admit in 2020 he had concocted a tale of once getting arrested while trying to see Nelson Mandela in South Africa. 

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