October 22, 2020

As she prepares to moderate the final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker faces unfounded accusations on social media that claim she’s biased toward Democrats.

Welker has not donated thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates, registered as a Democrat or “spent Christmas” at the White House with President Barack Obama, despite what an Oct. 17 Facebook post claims.

“Kristen Welker, of NBC, the next debate moderator chosen by the ‘unbiased’ presidential commission, gave thousands of dollars to Obama, Clinton and Biden, is registered as a Democrat (and) her family spent Christmas with the Obamas at the White House,” the post, featuring photos of Welker and her family, says. “Her mother is an activist for Biden!”

The Facebook post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

President Donald Trump has leveled similar complaints alleging bias, tweeting that Welker has “always been terrible & unfair” and calling her a “dyed-in-the-wool, radical-left Democrat.” In January, Trump congratulated Welker for landing a weekend anchor position with NBC.

The Facebook post’s claims appear to have derived from an Oct. 17 report from the New York Post. The article said Welker’s parents have donated to Democrats and suggested that a photo of Welker at a White House holiday reception in 2012 was evidence of partisan bias.

Welker is unaffiliated, no donations

Federal Election Commission records don’t show any donations to political candidates from Welker, let alone “thousands of dollars” to Obama, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Bill or Hillary Clinton. An NBC News spokesperson confirmed that she hasn’t donated.

Welker isn’t registered to vote as a Democrat, either. According to the District of Columbia Board of Elections, Welker has been registered in Washington, D.C., with no party affiliation since 2016. She had previously registered as a Democrat in 2012, the board’s records show.

The New York Post wrote that she was also registered as a Democrat in Rhode Island in 2004.

Welker’s parents have given money to Democratic candidates, including Biden, according to the Federal Election Commission’s records.

But Welker’s mother, Julie Welker, told PolitiFact that she does not have a role with the Biden campaign. “I am in no way an activist for Joe Biden,” she said. “I am busy with my full-time job.”

Welker didn’t spend Christmas with the Obamas

The Facebook post’s claim that Welker and her family “spent Christmas with the Obamas at the White House” is also inaccurate, as scores of journalists and pundits pointed out on Twitter.

The claim is rooted in a photo Welker uploaded to Facebook on Dec. 13, 2012. The photo shows Welker and a man the New York Post identified as “family” posing for a picture in a room full of Christmas decorations with Barack and Michelle Obama.

The photo was snapped at a White House holiday press party attended by the White House press corps, the NBC News spokesperson said. Welker attended a similar reception hosted by Trump in 2017. Trump canceled the gathering in 2018.

Generations of media members have attended such events, which predate Obama by decades and often include lines for photos. Similar photos show the Obamas with conservatives, including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who owns the New York Post.

Steven Thomma, executive director of the White House Correspondents Association, an organization of journalists who cover the White House, said he’s attended most of the White House’s holiday receptions for the press since 1993, when Bill Clinton was president.

Invitees are typically allowed to bring one guest, Thomma said, and the White House has often split the press between one reception primarily for TV and another for print and wire services.

“Guests are asked to go to the ground level, where they wait in line for a quick photo with the president and first lady,” Thomma said in an email to PolitiFact. “Staff is very strict about limiting time spent on small talk to less than 1-2 minutes, to keep the line moving.”

“The photo is taken by the White House photographer, and sent to every guest several days later,” Thomma said. “Guests commonly post them on Facebook and other social media.”

Our ruling

A Facebook post says Welker “gave thousands of dollars to Obama, Clinton and Biden, is registered as a Democrat & her family spent Christmas with the Obamas at the White House.”

The claims in the post are wrong or exaggerated.

First, FEC records don’t show any political contributions from Welker.

Second, Welker is registered to vote in Washington, D.C., with no party affiliation.

Third, Welker did not take her family to spend Christmas with the Obamas. She posed for a photo at a White House reception hosted for the press in 2012.

We rate the Facebook post False.

This article was originally published by PolitiFact, which is owned by the Poynter Institute, and is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact-check here and more of their fact-checks here.

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Bill McCarthy is a staff writer for PolitiFact and PunditFact. Previously, he worked as a reporter for PolitiFact North Carolina, and before that as an…
Bill McCarthy

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