Facts Matter: No one's cutting off Biden's mic, and portion of video attributed to Pelosi was faked

  • President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Washington.\

    President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Washington.\ Associated Press

Updated 9/19/2021 8:35 AM

During a recent congressional hearing on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Idaho Republican Sen. James Risch used his time for questioning to ask Secretary of State Antony Blinken about a conspiracy theory circulating through conservative media.

"It's been widely reported that somebody has the ability to push the button and cut off (President Joe Biden's) sound and stop him from speaking. Who is that person?" Risch asked.


Blinken appeared puzzled by the senator's question, responding, "There is no such person."

This false narrative that someone is controlling what the president says is based on fake news reported in right-wing media, according to The Washington Post.

At the inauguration, Biden said "good looking Marines" as he passed a group of soldiers. But some social media users claimed the president said "salute the Marines," repeating what a voice in his earpiece had told him to do.

Then during a virtual retreat in March, the Republican National Committee, or RNC, claimed the White House cut the video feed before Biden had a chance to answer questions. But there was never supposed to be a question-and-answer session during the retreat. The official schedule for the event included an "Out-of-Town Pool Spray at the Top," which means the White House pool reporters were allowed to hear opening remarks but then must leave the room before the discussion. The video feed caught the first seconds as Biden began the discussion but then cut off, as planned.

The idea that someone is cutting off Biden's speech is the RNC making "a mountain out of a molehill," Post fact checker Glenn Kessler said.

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"It's especially dismaying that a senior senator like Risch would fall prey to such nonsense and waste valuable time on it during an important national security hearing," Kessler said.

Fake Pelosi comment added to video

President Joe Biden, during the March virtual retreat, finished his comments by saying, "And I'm happy to take questions if that's what you -- I'm supposed to do, Nance. Whatever you want me to do."

In a video clip circulating on social media, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was attending the retreat virtually, can be heard saying, "Am I on? No, we don't want him to talk."

But the Pelosi portion of this exchange is fake, according to The Associated Press. In the actual video, she doesn't answer as she exits the meeting and her screen changes to an image of Biden. The president did go on to answer questions about systemic racism and the child tax credit.


The manipulated video, with the fake Pelosi line added, was created as political satire by comedian Michael Clive but was posted on Twitter without being tagged as a joke.

"Yes, that's me, imitating Nancy Pelosi but that Twitter version has been edited," Clive told the AP. "The original is labeled satire at the end."

Votes didn't disappear

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week was not recalled in a vote that, according to unofficial results, decisively keeps him in charge of the state.

A video making the rounds on social media falsely claims 400,000 of those votes disappeared.

The video shows a graphic on CNN titled, "Should Gov. Newsom be recalled?" with 4,530,002 "no" votes and 2,225,915 "yes" votes. But then the numbers change showing the "yes" votes decreasing to 1,874,206 while the "no" votes remain unchanged.

A voice on the video says, "Where did they go? 400,000 votes just disappeared? Wow."

The video is authentic, according to PolitiFact.com, but the change was to correct an error in reporting.

A representative for Edison Research, the group that provides election data for CNN and other news organizations, accidentally reported the total votes cast at that time, not just the "yes" votes, as the number of votes to recall Newsom. The mistake was then adjusted in the graphic.

"This error was entered at 11:19 p.m. ET and corrected two minutes later at 11:21 p.m. ET," Edison Research executive vice president Rob Farbman told PolitiFact.

Morning eye gunk not from spiders

A recent Facebook post claims the crust in people's eyes when they wake up is caused by spiders.

The post claims it's "spider mating season" and that it's a "well-known-fact that at night male spiders mistake eyelashes for female spiders and that's why in the mornings we sometimes wake up with our eyelashes stuck together," the post said.

This post, which was shared nearly 5,800 times, is false, according to USA Today. The crust people wake up with is an oily substance called meibum which is released by the eye glands, Yale School of Medicine assistant professor Vicente Diaz told PolitiFact.

"As people sleep and they're not moving their eyelids, it kind of dries up that way," Diaz said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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