Politics What it's been like fact-checking Joe Biden through 100 days
Biden's 1st 100 days: Promises kept, broken, or in progress
Here's a look at how President Joe Biden is measuring up against the markers he set for himself. As a candidate and incoming president, he had promised a series of swift and sweeping actions to address the range of challenges he inherited.
Things have been quieter around here in presidential-fact-check land.
Not because President Joe Biden is accurate all the time. He certainly isn't.
But through his first 100 days in the Oval Office, Biden has given us intermittent false claims rather than the staggering avalanche of daily wrongness we faced from his predecessor.
By CNN's rough count, Biden has made 29 total false claims in his first 100 days, about one every three-and-a-half days on average. That's not cause for celebration. But I214 false claims from Trump over his own first 100 days in office, more than two per day on average -- and that was a very slow Trump period compared to . Trump averaged about eight false claims per day in the full year I tracked as a CNN reporter, from August 2019 through July 2020.
Opinion: What Biden did with his Trump inheritance
As President Joe Biden approaches his 100th day in office, CNN Opinion asked contributors to share their assessment of the Democratic leader's performance thus far.David Axelrod: A welcome tonic after years of chaos
Trump was a distinctively prolific liar, so it's neither a surprise nor a compliment to note that his successor has been far more accurate than he was. And Biden also just talks much less in public than Trump did. According to data provided to CNN by Factba.se, a website that, Biden said about 28% fewer public words than Trump through April 29 of their respective terms.
When Biden does make public remarks, he is much more likely to be reading from a prepared text than the famously freewheeling Trump was. Biden's prepared texts have been quite factual.
Then, of course, there is the Twitter gap. Trump used the social media service to deliver off-the-cuff and oft-inaccurateand . Biden prefers to post conventionally presidential messages, a number of which of any kind.
Biden to propose $1.8 trillion 'families plan' with paid leave, child care, universal pre-K, free community college
The plan is the second piece of Biden's 'Build Back Better' economic agenda following the release of a $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan.Biden is set to formally introduce his American Families Plan at his first address before a joint session of Congress Wednesday night. It's the second piece of his "Build Back Better" economic agenda following the release of a $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan released earlier this month.
False ad-libbed numbers
When Biden has made false claims, he has tended to be ad-libbing rather than reading a text. And he has often been ad-libbing about some sort of statistic.
At a CNN town hall in February, for example, Bidenthat the majority of undocumented immigrants in the US are not Hispanic (experts put the actual figure at two-thirds or more Hispanic), that China has more retired people than working people (it has hundreds of millions more working people than retired people), that community health centers would be sent one million Covid-19 vaccine doses a week (the plan was to send one million in the "initial phase" of the program, ), and that the $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage would be $20 per hour today if it had been linked to inflation upon its creation (Biden was not even close -- the White House said Biden got mixed up with another statistic).
How Joe Biden's speech to Congress differs from past presidential addresses
Things will look a lot different during the annual presidential address, from COVID-19 guidelines to history being made behind the podium.The address, which technically is not called the State of the Union, will be the first time a U.S. president speaks to both houses of Congress since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as former President Donald Trump delivered his last State of the Union on Feb. 4, 2020.
At a press conference in March, Bidenthe US was sending back "the vast majority of families" who arrived at the southern border. While the US was indeed expelling the majority of all migrants encountered at the border, it was sending back less than half of the families in particular.
In a March interview with ABC News, during which Biden got, he claimed "all" of the tax breaks from his pandemic relief law would go to the bottom 60%. The think tank estimate he was referring to actually said that about 67% of the tax benefits, not "all" of the benefits, would go to the bottom 60%.
Wrong on two hot-button issues
Video: Analyzing the media's coverage of Biden's first 100 days (CNN Money)
Biden's false claims have not been limited to numbers.
In late March and early April, Biden weighed in on the hot-button issue of the. And he either deceived or didn't have his facts straight -- wrongly suggesting that the law requires polling places to close at 5 p.m. (You can read a detailed fact check .) While the new law does reduce voter access in , Biden gave the law's supporters ammunition to argue that the law's opponents were being dishonest.
Opinion: What grade did Biden get on his speech to Congress
CNN Opinion asks contributors to grade President Joe Biden's first speech before a joint session of Congress. © Pool/Getty Images North America/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: U.S. President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. On the eve of his 100th day in office, Biden spoke about his plan to revive America's economy and health as it continues to recover from a devastating pandemic.
In an April speech on another delicate issue, Biden's push for additional gun control measures, heabout gun manufacturers' immunity from lawsuits, claiming that the gun industry is the only big industry that "can't be sued." While gun manufacturers are shielded from liability over the unlawful use of guns, they can and have been sued for other reasons, such as negligence and their marketing practices. And vaccine manufacturers also have significant liability protections.
Inaccuracies when jabbing at Trump
Biden has sometimes been inaccurate in his attempt to favorably compare himself to Trump.
Talking about Covid-19, Bidenin March, "A year ago, we were hit with a virus that was met with silence and spread unchecked." Trump's early rhetoric on the virus was , but "silence" is not true. (Biden didn't specify that it was the Trump team that supposedly met the virus with silence, but that was his clear suggestion.)
Biden claimed twice that Trump "eliminated" the Obama administration's funding for Central America. While annual aid funding for Central America did decline under Trump, and while Trump didsuspend aid in 2019, "eliminated" is an .
As theand noted, Biden also exaggerated the extent to which the Trump-era federal government awarded contracts to foreign companies.
Why President Joe Biden's speech to Congress was unlike any other in modern history
A joint sessions speech, known for its glad-handing cadence, was bound to be subdued with only 200 folks permitted at an event that can hold 1,500.President Joe Biden's address to a joint session of Congress was unlike any in modern history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With no more than 200 folks permitted for an event that can hold up to 1,500, an event known for its glad-handing cadence and rousing moments was destined to be subdued.
And Biden has repeatedlythat Trump signed a tax law that gave 83% of the benefits to the top 1%. In reality, that 83% figure is a think tank's estimate for what would happen in 2027 if the law's corporate tax cuts remained in place but its individual tax cuts expired as scheduled after 2025. Between 2018 and 2025, conversely, the think tank that the top 1% would get between 20.5% and 25.3% of the benefits.
We wouldn't call the "83%" claim flat false -- depending on how Biden has said it, it has been misleading or-- but it's worth noting that there's more to the story than Biden keeps suggesting.
Some of Biden's false claims have been needless exaggerations.
Boasting of how well he knows Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bidenthree times in office that he has traveled 17,000 miles or more than 17,000 miles "with" Xi. As the Washington Post , that number is nowhere close to accurate. Biden could have accurately made the same point by saying he has spent a lot of time with Xi.
Before Biden visited wounded members of the military at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in January, he claimed to reporters that, as vice president, he had visited the facility "every single Christmas." In fact, there isthat he went on five of the eight Christmases; he could've demonstrated his commitment to the troops just as well by saying that.
In an impassioned flourish at the CNN town hall in February, Biden claimed the US spends almost $9 billion on a tax break "for people who own racehorses." Experts have no idea where Biden got that figure for this tax break, and the White House.
Fact check: Biden's speech had an estimated 26.9 million viewers
The president’s first address to Congress had 26.9 million viewers, not 11.6 million as claimed in a social media post.An April 29 Facebook post from James T. Harris, a conservative radio host and social media personality, lists television ratings for five past presidential addresses — four from former President Donald Trump and one from Biden. The post says Biden’s address to Congress had only 11.6 million viewers, compared to 37.2 million viewers for Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech.
Unlike the Trump White House, Biden's team has oftento fact-checking -- and sometimes have appeared responsive to it.
In my first fact check of Biden's presidency, in January, IBiden was wrong when he told reporters that when he initially announced his goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days, "you all said it's not possible." Biden switched to softer, accurate language in subsequent comments on the subject -- in March, for example, that his goal was initially "considered ambitious" and that "some even suggested it was somewhat audacious."
In April, Ithat Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and another Biden administration official had been wrong when they claimed Moody's Analytics expected Biden's infrastructure plan to create 19 million jobs; in reality, Moody's credited the infrastructure plan with about 2.7 million of the 19 million additional jobs it discussed in its forecast. I noted that Biden's own description of the "19 million" figure had been technically accurate but still pretty misleading.
And then something interesting happened. When Buttigieg was challenged on television about his inaccurate figure, he acknowledged his error andthe nuances of the Moody's analysis. And Biden and the White House stopped proactively deploying the "19 million" figure at all -- even in the narrowly correct form Biden had initially used it.
We aren't throwing a party for the Biden team here; it would have been better if the administration hadn't gotten it wrong in the first place. But after four years dealing with a Trump White House that appeared not to care about fact-checking at all, the Biden White House's response was a welcome development.
How President Biden confronted racism and injustice in his first 100 days .
President Biden has promised to address inequities in health care, criminal justice, housing, voting, pay and more.He described the trauma many of the nation’s Black and brown people experience. They worry, he said, that encounters with the police could turn deadly, that their children aren’t safe going to the grocery store, driving down the street, playing in the park or even sleeping at home.