If Your Time is short
- Joe Biden’s campaign moved a flag from a library where Jill Biden was holding an event. But they say the reason had nothing to do with the pledge of allegiance. It was because the flag was not properly dressed.
On Jan. 24, before the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses, Jill Biden, the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, held a meet-and-greet at a library in Corning, Iowa. Soon after, allegations about the Bidens’ patriotism appeared on social media.
Folks began sharing a screenshot of a Facebook post that claims the Biden campaign clashed with library staff over an American flag.
"This happened in my hometown this week in Iowa. It makes me so sad," reads the screenshot, which we found being shared on Feb. 2. "Joe Biden’s wife stopped in town at the library this week. The library staff was told to remove the American flag as they did not want to say the pledge of allegiance. The librarian refused so the campaign people went out and took it down themselves! Now explain to me why someone representing her husband running for President of the United States would do this?"
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We reached out to the person who wrote the original post — the one that people are sharing the screenshot of — but we didn’t hear back. And it appears the original post recounting the flag flap has been removed from public view.
We also reached out to Joe Biden. In a statement, his campaign told us that before Jill Biden went to the Corning Public Library, a campaign staff member arrived and saw that the American flag in the conference room reserved for the meet-and-greet "was not properly dressed." In this case, according to the campaign, it wasn’t draped correctly.
"Out of respect for the flag — because it could not be dressed properly in time for the event — the staff member asked the library if they were comfortable moving it to another room. The library staff member then moved the flag out of the room. In no way did this have anything to do with the pledge of allegiance and in no way did a directive come from Dr. (Jill) Biden. This is pure misinformation swirling around Facebook. The Bidens are a military family. Any insinuation they would somehow disrespect the flag — or our veterans — is shameful and categorically false."
We called the library, which referred us to Corning Mayor Janice Mercer Leonard. Leonard told us that she had heard several different accounts of what happened at the library, though she was not there to witness it herself.
Leonard said one of the librarians told her that Jill Biden’s staff arrived at the library before the event and wanted to remove the flag from the conference room, where it was hanging on a stand in the corner.
"I heard two different stories," Leonard said. "One was the advance staff asked to remove it and one story was they weren’t asked and just went ahead and set up the room the way they wanted to set up the room."
The flag was relocated to the hallway, she said. "What possible reason could there be to remove the flag?" she asked. She heard two explanations from people she said attended the meet-and-greet but who did not see the room being set up. One person told Leonard that "they didn’t want to say the pledge of allegiance," she said, and another told her that there was a smudge on the flag.
In a letter to the editor, Leonard pointedly questioned why the Biden campaign removed the flag.
"Did you think you were going to have such a large turnout that you needed that two foot space in the corner where the flag was located?" she wrote. "Was this just a stop to check off little Adams County so you could say you visited all 99 counties?"
Snopes, which also looked into this claim, spoke with Fred Shearer, president of the library board in Corning. Shearer said the campaign rented the room and arranged it themselves, moving the flag "probably 5 feet into a hallway next to the room," according to Snopes.
A viral post says Joe Biden’s campaign told an Iowa library where Jill Biden was holding an event "to remove the American flag as they did not want to say the pledge of allegiance."
It’s true that a flag was removed from the library conference room where Jill Biden held a meet-and-greet. While the mayor says Joe Biden’s campaign staff moved the flag and the campaign says a library staff member moved the flag, it’s clear that it was moved to accommodate the campaign.
But beyond unsourced reports on social media, we found no credible evidence that the flag was relocated to the hallway because Jill Biden didn’t want to say the pledge of allegiance.
We rate this Facebook post False.
Mobilize America, Corning, IA: Meet and Greet with Dr. Jill Biden, visited Feb. 6, 2020
Facebook post, Feb. 2, 2020
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Guidelines for display of the flag, visited Feb. 6, 2020
Snopes, Did Biden’s campaign demand an American flag be removed from a library? Feb. 5, 2020
Statement from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, Feb. 6, 2020
Interview with Janice Mercer Leonard, City of Corning mayor, Feb. 6, 2020
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