Fact check: Biden checked watch after ceremony at Dover Air Force Base
Category: News & PoliticsVia: john-russell • 2 weeks ago • 46 comments
By: Daniel Funke (USA TODAY)
Daniel FunkeUSA TODAY
The claim: Donald Trump saluted the caskets of fallen U.S. service members, while Joe Biden checked his watch
Our rating: Partly false
Based on our research, we rate PARTLY FALSE the claim that Trump saluted the caskets of fallen U.S. service members, while Biden checked his watch. The pictures are real, but they don't accurately summarize the two events. The way Biden honored the 11 caskets presented at Dover Air Force Base, with a hand over his heart, was similar to how Trump paid respects to fallen service members during his presidency. Biden checked his watch, but he did so after the ceremony had ended.
On Aug. 29, President Joe Biden paid his respects to U.S. service members who were killed in a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport. The president and first lady Jill Biden bowed and placed their hands over their hearts as 11 caskets were presented at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
But on social media, some doubted Biden's sincerity.
One popular post features two photos: one of Biden and one of now-former President Donald Trump. The picture shows Biden appearing to check his watch, Trump salutes as men in fatigues carry a casket draped in the American flag.
"A picture is worth a thousand words," reads text over the post, published Aug. 30 on Facebook.
Similar posts have racked up hundreds of thousands of interactions on Facebook and Instagram, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool. An Aug. 29 Facebook Live video from Benny Johnson, a conservative commentator, accumulated more than 446,000 views within two days.
"BIDEN LOOKS AT HIS WATCH (!!!) AS CASKETS OF 13 SERVICE MEMBERS KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN ARE DELIVERED TO THEIR FAMILIES," reads the caption of the video, which shows a still of Biden purportedly checking his watch during the dignified transfer, a process that honors slain service members returning to the U.S.
Biden has taken heat from all sides for the chaotic evacuation of U.S. troops, citizens and allies from Afghanistan. But the claim that he checked his watch instead of honoring the fallen service members is wrong.
USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the claim for comment.
Biden honored fallen troops
The full video of the dignified transfer ceremony shows Biden honored each of the fallen U.S. service members. He appeared to check his watch after the ceremony ended.
On Aug. 26, 11 Marines, one Navy hospital corpsman and an Army soldier were killed in bombings and gunfire at Hamid Karzai International Airport. ISIS-K, an Islamic State affiliate group in Afghanistan and Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack, which also killed at least 169 Afghans.
"These American service members who gave their lives ... they were heroes," Biden said during remarks after the terrorist attack. "Heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others."
On Sunday, Biden met with service members' families and attended his first dignified transfer as president. Footage from the 45-minute ceremony shows Biden bowing his head and placing his hand over his heart as 11 caskets are carried off a plane and into gray vans. Two other transfers were conducted in private.
The way Biden paid his respects to the fallen service members is similar to what Trump did during his presidency.
The image of Trump in the Facebook posts appears to stem from a New York Times article published Nov. 21, 2019, when Trump attended a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force base to honor two Army soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. During the brief ceremony, Trump saluted as two caskets were carried into a waiting van.
For Biden, he did appear to check his watch during his visit to Dover Air Force Base. But he did so after the dignified transfer ceremony was over.
Footage leading up to the moment shows Biden with his hand over his heart for about 30 seconds as vans carry the service members' remains off the tarmac. After the vans had left, Biden closes his eyes briefly before dropping his arms and glancing down at his watch.
At that point, everyone else in the video also stands at ease, indicating that the ceremony was over. About 35 seconds later, Biden and the first lady walk off the tarmac toward a black SUV.
USA TODAY reached out to the White House for comment.
Our rating: Partly false
Based on our research, we rate PARTLY FALSEthe claim that Trump saluted the caskets of fallen U.S. service members, while Biden checked his watch. The pictures are real, but they don't accurately summarize the two events. The way Biden honored the 11 caskets presented at Dover Air Force Base, with a hand over his heart, was similar to how Trump paid respects to fallen service members during his presidency. Biden checked his watch, but he did so after the ceremony had ended.
Our fact-check sources:
- C-SPAN, Aug. 29, President Biden Pays Respect to U.S. Service Members Killed in Afghanistan
- USA TODAY, Aug. 27, They made the 'ultimate sacrifice': The 13 US service members killed in Afghanistan airport bombing
- USA TODAY, Aug. 29, Fact check: Bidens attended dignified transfer of 13 fallen service members
- CrowdTangle, accessed Aug. 31
- USA TODAY, Aug. 22, For Biden, fallout from the Afghanistan withdrawal abroad complicates agenda at home
- Factba.se, accessed Aug. 31, Remarks: Joe Biden Addresses the Terrorist Bombings in Kabul - August 26, 2021
- USA TODAY, Aug. 29, Biden meets with families of service members killed in Kabul suicide bombing
- USA TODAY, Aug. 26, What is ISIS-K? Islamic State terror group carried out Kabul attack that killed 13 U.S. troops
- The New York Times, Nov. 21, 2019, Trump Pays Respects to 2 Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan
- USA TODAY, Nov. 21, 2019, Trump visits Dover to honor remains of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan
- USA TODAY, Aug. 26, Dire warnings, then explosions and US deaths: How a terror strike unfolded at Kabul airport
- AP Archive on YouTube, Nov. 26, 2019, Trump at Dover AFB to receive remains of fallen soldiers
- Getty Images, Nov. 21, 2019, Dignified Transfer Held For 2 Soldiers Killed In Helicopter Crash In Afghanistan
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