On Feb. 16, two weeks after a suspected spy balloon was spotted in U.S. airspace, President Joe Biden held a press conference on the U.S. response to any unidentified aerial object that crosses into American airspace.
The president told reporters he directed an interagency team to review U.S. procedures after the U.S. shot down a Chinese balloon, as well as three other objects that Biden said the U.S. now believes were launched by private companies or research institutions.
A 20-second video claiming to show a clip from that press briefing went viral on Twitter, with millions of views. The video clip shows Biden leaving the podium to go behind a curtain, where he is then allegedly heard on a hot mic. A hot mic is a microphone that is unintentionally left on.
“You think any of these guys bought that bull***?” Biden allegedly asks an aide. Another voice says “totally.” Biden then seems to say: “They’ll buy anything…Let’s get outta here,” according to the video.
Is the video claiming to show Biden overheard on a hot mic real?
No, the video is not real – it’s doctored. The viral video was created by combining clips from the original White House video and using altered audio.
WHAT WE FOUND
The video was edited using two clips from the same press conference and manipulated audio. VERIFY compared authentic clips from multiple sources with the doctored footage and found noticeable differences.
At the start of the 20-second doctored clip, Biden can be heard saying: “These three objects were likely balloons tied to private companies, studying weather, or conducting other scientific research.”
But that isn’t what he actually said during the Feb. 16 press conference. The press conference was held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., and not in Poland as some viral posts claim.
“These three objects were likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions, studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” Biden actually says at the 1:55 mark in the White House video. “Recreation or research institutions” were removed in the fake video.
Then, immediately after that quote, the doctored video shows Biden appearing to leave the stage as reporters are yelling after him. But that didn’t happen in his actual press briefing.
The actual Feb. 16 press conference lasted for about another six and a half minutes before Biden left the podium.
C-SPAN also broadcast Biden’s press briefing. Biden's remarks in that video match White House footage. Neither clip shows the “hot mic” comments that allegedly occurred at the end of the press conference.
Another video from PBS NewsHour continues for about 23 seconds after Biden leaves the stage. He could not be heard via a hot mic behind the stage in that video, either.
PJ Media, a right-wing website that typically posts commentary content, published an article on Feb. 20 with the headline: “BIDEN HOT MIC: Asks Aides if anyone ‘Bought Any of That Bulls**t.’” The article has since been deleted from the website and archived here.
On Feb. 21, in its place, was a retraction. The page said: “Editor’s Note: PJ Media retracted this article after determining that the video was doctored. We apologize to our readers for the error.”