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Video of first lady’s book reading manipulated to add child’s comment

November 30, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Video captures a child yelling an expletive at Jill Biden as she begins reading a story to a group of students.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video has been manipulated to insert audio of a child yelling a disparaging comment. A video showing Biden’s full remarks contains no such interruption.

THE FACTS: The first lady sat down on Monday with a group of second grade students from Maryland to host a story time at the White House as part of the annual unveiling of holiday decorations.

Social media users soon began sharing a manipulated video from the event that appears to show a child screaming, “Shut the f--- up,” just as Biden introduces the picture book she wrote. But the audio of the yelling child was added to the clip. It comes from an unrelated video that has been shared online since at least 2019.

While some people commenting on the video acknowledged that it was altered, and linked to the source of the audio, others shared the falsified video as real. One such tweet incorrectly stating, “A kid yells at Jill Biden just as she begins to read to them,” had been shared more than a thousand times by Tuesday morning.

The inserted audio has spread online for years, and first emerged in a video that appeared to show a young child cursing during a school graduation ceremony as adults tried to quiet the situation. It is unclear where the video was taken, but it has since become a widely-shared sound effect and has been edited into other videos, often in a comedic way.

In the altered Biden video, the first lady began to introduce her 2012 book, “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops,” saying: “When my son was away, my granddaughter — just like you kids — really, really missed her daddy. So I wrote this book to tell other kids, ’cause there’s lots of kids who don’t know what it’s like —.” The sound of the yelling child was then inserted at that point to make it appear a student heckled Biden mid-sentence.

A video of Biden’s full remarks shows she was not interrupted and finished her sentence, saying, “So I wrote this book to tell other kids, ’cause there’s lots of kids who don’t know what it’s like to be a military kid.”

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.