Facts Matter: Vice President Harris' laugh taken out of context

  • Vice President Kamala Harris and Polish President Andrzej Duda had a brief laugh at a news conference March 10 at Belwelder Palace in Warsaw, Poland, but it wasn't about the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

    Vice President Kamala Harris and Polish President Andrzej Duda had a brief laugh at a news conference March 10 at Belwelder Palace in Warsaw, Poland, but it wasn't about the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP

Updated 3/19/2022 4:52 PM

A video being shared on social media purportedly shows Vice President Kamala Harris laughing in response to a question during a March 10 news conference held with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

"@VP Harris awkwardly starts laughing when asked about the Ukrainian refugee crisis," one Twitter user claimed.


But that clip is taken out of context, according to Reuters. Harris didn't laugh awkwardly in response to the question; she and Duda laughed awkwardly about the confusion in deciding who should answer first.

The full video shows Harris and Duda listening to NPR correspondent Asma Khalid's question, which asked the vice president if the U.S. was willing to make a "specific allocation for Ukrainian refugees" and asked the Polish president if he wanted the U.S. to "specifically accept more refugees."

Since they both needed to answer, the pair looked at each other and briefly laughed. Harris said, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," and gestured to Duda to address the question first. When Duda had finished, Harris, in a serious tone, answered the question.

In the edited version of the clip, the video zooms in on Harris as the two are laughing and keeps her image cropped as Duda begins talking, but it doesn't show Harris eventually answering the question.

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"No surprise: but this is wildly out of context," Harris' deputy communications director Herbie Ziskend wrote on Twitter. "I was in the room. The @VP and President were laughing about who would speak first amidst simultaneous translations -- they were certainly not laughing about refugees."

Boosters don't increase death risk

A video currently making the rounds on social media shows a Houston-based ophthalmologist claiming the COVID-19 booster shot increases the risk of death from the coronavirus.

Dr. Richard Urso, testifying before a Tennessee General Assembly subcommittee, said the vaccine isn't stopping the infection or the transmission.

"If you look at the studies in England, in Scotland and in northern countries in Europe where they get real data, that there, actually, the triple vaccinated are the most likely to die," he said in the video.


But this is false, according to The Associated Press. There is no evidence to back up Urso's claim.

"I've never seen anything that shows an increased risk of mortality for individuals with the third dose and repeated doses to the vaccines," Texas A&M University College of Medicine professor Robert Carpenter told the AP. "That's completely false based upon all of the data that is available, everything that I've seen both in the U.S. and outside it from reputable sources."

University of Colorado professor Ross Kedl told the AP that studies show the vaccine offers increased protection against the omicron variant.

"The longer time goes on, the more and more people pour over this data, the better and better it gets," he said.

Military draft hasn't been reinstated

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on, a recent TikTok video implies the U.S. military has reinstated the draft and is sending soldiers to Europe.

The text "Women can get drafted?!!?!" is superimposed on the clip showing a document purportedly from the Selective Service System stating the recipient must report to Ukraine on March 5, 2022.

The user wrote, "Y'all I'm about to cry like what."

The post, which was viewed more than 46,000 times, included comments such as, "I want equal rights but not this," followed by a crying emoji.

But no one -- men or women -- can be drafted right now, according to PolitiFact, because there is no draft. The military has been an all-volunteer force since 1973.

If there were a national emergency, it would take an act of Congress to reinstate the draft.

Currently, 18- to 25-year-old male citizens and male immigrants are required to register with the Selective Service System. If the draft were reinstated, those would be the first people called into service.

The user who posted the video later pinned a comment stating the clip was created as a joke.

Wreckage not Russian plane

A video clip posted online appears to be dashcam footage from a vehicle driving past the wreckage of a plane.

"Ukrainian civilian fleeing Kyiv captures footage of downed Russian tie fighter," a Facebook user wrote in a post that included the video and was viewed more than 1.2 million times.

But this clip is not a first-person account of the war in Ukraine, according to USA Today. And the two storm troopers standing near the crash should be the first clue.

This video is from a 2014 promotional film for a "Star Wars" special. It was created by German media company Sky Deutschland.

The wrecked aircraft is not a Russian plane. It's a TIE fighter that had "crashed on a German Autobahn and two storm troopers are waiting alongside it for help," Sky Deutschland spokesperson Birgit Ehmann told USA Today.

"Any indication (that the video relates) to the current situation in Ukraine is completely false and inappropriate," she 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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