Facts Matter: White House holiday event was not staged

  • President Joe Biden, center, and other American dignitaries did indeed host a barbecue for active-duty military families on July 4.

    President Joe Biden, center, and other American dignitaries did indeed host a barbecue for active-duty military families on July 4. Associated presS

Updated 7/15/2023 5:19 PM

President Joe Biden, on July 4, hosted an Independence Day event for U.S. military and veteran families on the South Lawn of the White House. But some social media users claimed the activities weren't genuine.

In a video posted originally to TikTok, a person analyzes a clip of the president in front of a crowd in which many people raised their phones to capture the moment in photos and video.


"Their phones were turned off," the commentator says. "All the phones were black. ... I think it's a staged event. Look at the haircuts on the guys. These are obviously either government guys or military."

Yes, some military members attended, but there was nothing fake about the event, according to USA Today.

The glare from the sun made it difficult to see an image on the phone screens during the outdoor event, making them appear black. The video shared on social media was a low-quality, darker version of the original, making it even harder to see what was on the screens. In the original video, published by the Independent, it can be seen that the events are being recorded on some of the screens.

The event was covered by several news organizations, with no mention of it being staged, and social media posts from attendees included a video showing Biden addressing the group. First lady Jill Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his wife, Charlene Austin, joined the president on stage.

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Clones aren't replacing politicians

A slideshow of images posted to Instagram earlier this month shows side-by-side photos of political figures, including Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton, King Charles III, Jared Kushner and Kim Jong Un. In each of the pairs of photos, the person is shown with two very different looks.

"Ohhh nothing is happening you say," reads the caption, which includes the hashtags #bodydouble, #clone, #justice, #treason and #trump2024. The images of King Charles are labeled "PRINCE CHARLES" and "CLONE." Some pairs include marks or notes that draw attention to certain facial features.

But the idea of replacements is baseless, according to PolitiFact. There is no evidence a substitute is standing in for any current or former world leader.

The claim that lawmakers and other well-known people have been replaced by body doubles or clones has been around a long time and is unfounded.

The side-by-side images actually show people who are "aging in the public eye," PolitiFact said. The photos compare various images of the subject at different ages, different angles and different lighting, while often one is higher quality than the other.


Madonna on 'road to recovery'

Singer Madonna was hospitalized when she "developed a serious bacterial infection," her manager Guy Oseary wrote in a June 24 Instagram post. At the time he said her health was improving and they were expecting a full recovery.

An image of a headline posted on social media recently tells a different story.

"THIS IS THE END MADONNA CLINICALLY BRAIN DEAD ... With No Chance of Recovery," reads the headline. The post, which is topped with an "EXCLUSIVE" banner, includes a black and white photo of Madonna and is made up in the style of a TMZ story.

But that headline is fake, according to The Associated Press. The story didn't come from TMZ.

"(It's) clearly something someone on social media has put together that has no relationship to TMZ," Casey Carver, a spokesperson for TMZ, told the AP.

The fake headline included a timestamp of "6/29/2023 1:59 PM PT." That same timestamp can be found on an actual TMZ story which had the headline, "MADONNA STILL TOO SICK TO GET OUT OF BED ... Opening Tour Dates Uncertain," and included a color photo of the singer.

In an Instagram post on July 10, Madonna thanked fans for their "positive energy," and she wrote, "I'm on the road to recovery and incredibly grateful for all the blessings in my life."

No restrictions on toilet flushing

A recent Facebook post included an odd claim about life in Switzerland.

"In Switzerland, it is illegal to flush the toilet after 10 p.m. in apartments to avoid disturbing neighbors," reads a July 7 post that includes a photo of a hand flushing a toilet.

But this isn't accurate, according to PolitiFact. It's an urban myth.

Some apartment buildings in Switzerland have been reported to have rules for tenants that include quiet hours, and rental contracts that restrict loud appliances like washing machines and dishwashers. But there is no evidence people are not allowed to flush the toilet at night.

This unsubstantiated claim has been around for more than a decade, 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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