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Clip from Biden speech misrepresented online

November 24, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: President Joe Biden mistakenly read the phrase “end of quote” directly from a teleprompter during a speech.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing context. During a Tuesday speech about the economy, Biden used the words “end of quote” to signify the end of a phrase he was quoting from John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart’s U.S. division. A short clip of Biden’s address has been taken out of context to falsely suggest he unintentionally read the phrase “end of quote” directly from a teleprompter script.

THE FACTS: Social media users on Tuesday claimed that Biden made a gaffe, sharing an eight-second clip extracted from a longer 12-minute video of Biden’s speech about the state of the U.S. economy.

One tweet described the clip as showing the president reading “an ‘end of quote’ notice” from the teleprompter. Another compared Biden to the bumbling television anchor played by comedian Will Ferrell in the 2004 film, Anchorman: “Here’s Joe Biden going full Ron Burgandy and reading ‘end of quote’ off his teleprompter. He just keeps getting worse.”

Some news outlets also ran with the story that Biden had committed a faux pas.

But the short video clip was edited in a misleading way and shares Biden’s words out of context, cutting off the beginning of the quote he was sharing. Biden was reading a direct quote from Furner and using the phrases “and I quote” and “end of quote” to distinguish between his words and those of the Walmart CEO.

A White House transcript of Biden’s remarks documents the president’s full statements.

“You may have heard the CEO of Walmart yesterday on the steps we’ve taken. He said, and I quote, ‘The combination of private enterprise and government working together has been really successful.’ He went on to say, ‘All the way through the supply chain, there’s… a lot of innovation.’ Because of the actions we’ve taken, things have begun to change. End of quote.”

The quote Biden read largely matches what Furner said Monday during a segment of MSNBC.

“The combination of private enterprise and government working together has been really successful,” Furner said. “We’ve had a lot of participation, been able to participate, in solving some of these congestion issues. So I would like to give the administration credit for helping do things like help get the ports open 24 hours a day, to open up some of the trucking lines, what we call drayage when the container ships are put onto these small trailers then moved off the port. There’s been a lot of work to do that. And then all the way through the supply chain, there’s been a lot of innovation.”

When Biden relayed the quotes, however, he inserted the final line, “Because of the actions we’ve taken, things have begun to change,” before saying, “End of quote.”

Biden often uses a teleprompter during his live remarks. The White House did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking to verify whether he used one for the speech on Tuesday.

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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.