January 26, 2022

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a video of President Joe Biden began to circulate online in which he said, “Even Dr. King’s assassination did not have the worldwide impact that George Floyd’s death did.” 

The short clip quickly went viral on the national holiday (and continues to be shared on other platforms like TikTok) and the president faced backlash from social media users baffled by his remarks. However, the clip was actually from a campaign event in June 2020, and it leaves out a lot of important context. Here’s how we fact-checked it.

Question how the post makes you feel

Posts that spark an emotional reaction tend to be missing important context, so always take time to pause and fact-check when you see claims that make you feel things like disbelief, outrage or shock. When you feel these intense emotions, this should be a big signal to do further research on the validity of the claim. Remember, sometimes misinformation is designed to play on your emotions.

Try a keyword search

The video shared by The Post Millennial Twitter account was only 10 seconds long, so it’s possible that we’re missing a lot of context about what led up to this remark. When clips that short circulate across the internet, try doing a keyword search to find more of the interview to see if it’s being used in the wrong context. Even watching an extra few seconds before and after the clip could alter how you feel about a story. 

By doing a keyword search of the quote, I was able to track down the full-length video of the interview, which was posted to CNBC’s YouTube channel. Watching the video, Biden did make the statement that “Dr. King’s assassination did not have the worldwide impact that George Floyd’s death did,” but what he said after is important to include. Here was his full statement:

“Because, just like television changed the civil rights movement for the better when they saw Bull Connor and his dogs ripping the clothes off of elderly Black women going to church and fire hoses ripping the skin off of young kids — that, all those folks around the country that didn’t have any Black populations heard about this, but they didn’t believe it — but they saw it. It was impossible for them to close their eyes.”

Biden then continued by talking about cellphones today, and how the recording of Floyd’s death was seen by millions.

Snopes also reported on the viral clip, writing, “Biden appeared to be making a point less about the relative historic importance of King’s life and achievements, but rather the global audience that watched cellphone video footage of Floyd’s death.” 

Check the dates 

Since this clip went viral on MLK day, many assumed Biden made these statements recently. The tweet shared by The Post Millennial didn’t disclose when or where this video was taken, either. But checking for dates is a really easy way to make sure that you aren’t sharing old or outdated information. According to USA Today, the clip was actually a recording from a campaign event that Biden held in Philadelphia on June 11, 2020 ― and Biden got heat for his comments then, too. 

Our Rating 

While the president did make this statement, the clip is from two years ago and doesn’t include important context. We rate this claim: Needs Context. 

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