Facts Matter: Biden's foot injury feeds conspiracy backers

  • President-elect Joe Biden touches the boot on his right foot, which he injured while playing with one of his dogs.

    President-elect Joe Biden touches the boot on his right foot, which he injured while playing with one of his dogs. Associated Press/Dec. 4

Updated 12/12/2020 6:06 PM

President-elect Joe Biden last month suffered a hairline fracture in his right foot while playing with his dog Major. The idea of Biden wearing a walking boot while his foot heals allowed conspiracy theorists to kick out some fake news.

Some social media users promoted the false claim that Biden is wearing the medical boot to cover a law enforcement ankle bracelet, according to PolitiFact.com.


"Biden is willing to sing and concede in exchange for immunity for him and his family," a Facebook user claimed.

The story is being pushed by supporters of the QAnon conspiracy who claim that prominent Democrats will soon be arrested, Newsweek magazine reported. Hillary Clinton and John McCain have been the subject of previous falsehoods.

A separate post showed side-by-side photos of Biden altered to make it appear the boot was on his left foot in one image and on his right foot in the other in an attempt to suggest the injury was fake.

The photo was digitally manipulated to make it appear the boot had switched feet, according to Snopes.com.

The photo showing Biden with the boot on his right foot is authentic, taken Dec. 1 in Wilmington, Delaware, by Getty Images photographer Alex Wong.

The doctored photo showing Biden with the boot on his left foot was taken in 2018 at the Delaware Humane Association after he adopted Major. A gray medical boot was digitally added to the photo, along with a mask on Biden's face, making it appear the photo was taken recently.

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Video doesn't show fraud

A false claim that surveillance video shows election night fraud in Atlanta, including hidden "suitcases filled with ballots," has been shared on social media by President Donald Trump's campaign, racking up millions of views, according to The Associated Press.

The video, presented to Georgia legislators during a Dec. 3 hearing, supposedly shows poll workers and observers being told to leave the State Farm Arena where ballots were being counted before four election workers stayed behind and pulled ballots from under a table and scanned them without supervision.

The video shows no such thing, the AP said. There was confusion when election workers thought they were finished for the night but then were told to continue scanning ballots. No one was told to leave and an independent monitor and investigator oversaw the process.

Gabriel Sterling, an official with the secretary of state's office, told the AP that a review of the surveillance tape showed "normal ballot processing."


Trump is not the first

Trump, in a Wednesday Twitter post, said he was the first candidate to lose an election while winning two swing states.

"No candidate has ever won both Florida and Ohio and lost. I won them both, by a lot!" Trump said.

The president included this claim in a filing to the Supreme Court challenging the election results.

Trump did indeed win Florida and Ohio, collecting 47 electoral votes from those two states to add to his total of 232. Joe Biden, however, received 306 Electoral College votes.

Trump was not the first to take those two states and lose. In 1960, Richard Nixon won Florida and Ohio, adding to his 219 electoral votes, short of President John Kennedy's winning 303 total.

Trump attorney and Chapman University law professor John Eastman echoed the president's incorrect claim in the legal filing.

"President Trump prevailed on nearly every historical indicia of success in presidential elections," Chapman wrote. "For example, he won both Florida and Ohio; no candidate in history -- Republican or Democrat -- has ever lost the election after winning both States."

Margaret Keenan, 90, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at University Hospital in Coventry, England.
Margaret Keenan, 90, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at University Hospital in Coventry, England. - Pool photo by Jacob King VIA AP
CNN didn't have story earlier

Margaret Keenan, 90, on Tuesday became the first person, other than trial patients, to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the coronavirus. Photos of Keenan receiving a shot at University Hospital in Coventry, England, were published by news organization around the world.

The news was immediately followed by false conspiracy claims.

Mindy Robinson, a candidate who recently lost a congressional bid in Nevada, tweeted an image of Keenan she claimed ran on CNN months ago.

"Excuse me but how is it the exact same person who's the 'first to get vaccinated' today ... also in a CNN photo wearing the exact same clothes, in the exact same chair, and getting a shot back in October?" Robinson wrote.

The photo of Keenan, which was taken last week, was not published by CNN in October, according to PolitiFact.com.

The confusion might have been caused by people who don't understand how news websites are organized, PolitiFact said. A Oct. 22 CNN story, when called up on screen last week, was surrounded by photos and headlines linking to current news, including the clip of Keenan.

A reverse-image search of the Keenan photo shows it was not published before Tuesday, PolitiFact 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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