Andrea Austria / Media Matters, Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons

Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media misleadingly used a video from a fundraiser to renew their attacks on Biden's age

Fox hosts baselessly claimed the video showed that Biden “froze in a geriatric trance” and has “dementia”

Right-wing media figures were quick to use a video shared by an official Republican National Committee social media account in order to continue their attacks on President Biden over his age and accuse him of “experiencing a serious mental decline.”

  • An official RNC social media account shared a video purporting to show Biden “freeze” on stage while attending a fundraising event

    • RNC Research, a social media account of the RNC’s rapid response team, shared a video and claimed it showed Biden “freeze” on stage before being led away. The video was originally captured by The Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner and shows Biden and former President Barack Obama waving and gesturing to a crowd during a fundraising event, with Gardner noting the pair offered “final waves to Peacock Theater crowd as Obama then grabs Biden’s hand to lead him offstage following 40-minute conversation with Jimmy Kimmel.” [Twitter/X, 6/16/24, 6/16/24]
    • The Daily Beast noted that the video features Biden and Obama “taking in the crowd’s cheers” and that the clip captured by Gardner and posted by the RNC did not include “most of the lead-up to the seemingly innocuous moment.” The publication further noted, “After they wave to the applauding crowd for nearly a minute, Obama reaches out and gently touches Biden on the arm before they walk off stage together.” White House senior deputy press secretary Andrew Bates also pushed back on the RNC’s characterization of the video, claiming that Biden was rather “taking in an applauding crowd for a few seconds.” [The Daily Beast, 6/16/24; Twitter/X, 6/16/24]
    • The RNC Research social media account has a history of promoting misleadingly presented or edited videos of Biden to push claims that he is in physical and mental decline and unfit to continue serving as president. Notably, within the last two weeks the RNC Research account has shared a misleadingly edited video of Biden during a D-Day memorial event, which they claimed showed him “pooping or sitting on an invisible chair,” as well as a separate video that was reportedly doctored to show Biden supposedly wandering off during a G7 meeting. [Media Matters, 6/6/24; The New Republic, 6/14/24]
  • Right-wing media outlets and social media figures quickly spread footage of Biden at the fundraiser and claimed that he “froze”

    • Less than four hours after RNC Research’s post, The New York Post published an article repeating the claim that Biden “appeared to freeze up” at the fundraiser. The Post’s article characterized the event as Biden staring at the crowd “until former President Barack Obama took his wrist and led him offstage.” [The New York Post, 6/16/24]
    • The Gateway Pundit claimed that Biden gave the “appearance of dementia” after “freezing up” at the fundraiser. The article noted that the video shows Biden “briefly applauding the audience” but the article claims he was “standing frozen until Obama grabs him by the wrist and leads him offstage.” [The Gateway Pundit, 6/16/24]
    • The Washington Examiner described Biden as standing “motionless” in the video before being “led offstage by Obama.” [The Washington Examiner, 6/16/24]
    • Infowars stated that Biden “awkwardly froze onstage.” The article used the video to declare Biden a “senile Democrat” and revive the Trump-coined “Sleepy Joe” moniker. [Infowars, 6/17/24; MSNBC, 4/16/24]
    • Conservative outlet PJ Media claimed the video shows “Obama stepping in as Joe Biden’s handler.” The article alleged, “It was lucky for Biden that his former boss was there to snap him out of his old man trance and lead him off stage.” [PJ Media, 6/17/24]
    • Right-wing social media account End Wokeness shared the video, stating that “Biden froze again” and claiming the president “had to get escorted out by Obama.” [Twitter/X, 6/16/24]
    • Conservative commentator Piers Morgan called the video “so embarrassing.” He added, “The Democrats can’t let this go on, surely?” [Twitter/X, 6/16/24]
    • Right-wing YouTuber Tim Pool used similar footage of the event and claimed, “There is more evidence that biden froze up on stage than there is that the hunter laptop is part of a russian disinformation scheme.” [Twitter/X, 6/17/24]
  • After the video gained traction, Fox News used it to claim Biden “froze in a geriatric trance” and has “dementia”

    • On America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Steve Hilton claimed that the White House is “forcing Democrats to lie” about Biden’s fitness for office after the video was circulated. He added that, “Every Democrat that now goes out there and says, ‘Oh, it's fine. He's great.’ They’re lying. They can see. We can all see. His wife is lying to protect him.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/17/24]
    • On Fox Business, Varney & Co. host Stuart Varney claimed that Biden “had to be rescued” by Obama, before adding that “the president’s mental and physical condition is topic one in politics.” Later in the episode, Newsweek Deputy Opinion Editor Batya Ungar-Sargon claimed that Obama had taken “a feeble President Biden by the hand by like some sort of son or grandson” before adding that the video is “terrible optics to a nation that is already asking itself who’s running things actually in this administration with somebody so old and apparently not in control completely of his faculties.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 6/17/24, 6/17/24]
    • On Fox & Friends, Fox host Jimmy Failla claimed that the video showed “a president with dementia.” He added, regarding Obama walking off stage with Biden, “You don't do that to another grown man unless you are trying to show him consideration because he is embarrassing himself.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/18/24]
    • Fox host Greg Gutfeld claimed that Biden “froze in a geriatric trance” at the fundraiser. He went on to repeat a racist attack against former President Obama by joking that “a nice Kenyan man was able to guide him off stage.” [Fox News, Gutfeld!, 6/17/24; USA Today, 10/13/21]
    • Fox host Sean Hannity claimed on his show that Biden “is experiencing a serious mental decline” and that the video showed that “Obama seemed so worried that Biden wouldn't be able to kind of make his way off the stage, Obama gently — he pulled Joe by the hand.” He also read a quote from Piers Morgan claiming that the video shows “the moment everyone realized the president’s not fit for office,” with Hannity adding, “We’ve known that for a long time.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/17/24]
    • On Special Report, Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy claimed that Biden is “not fit to run, like, a lemonade stand.” He added, “Someone needs to step in and say, ‘You know what, Joe, you’ve had a good run. We’re going to run someone else. You’re just not up for it.’” [Fox News, Special Report, 6/18/24]