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Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus on March 12, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP/Rourke) Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus on March 12, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP/Rourke)

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus on March 12, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP/Rourke)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy May 26, 2020

Biden beating Biden? Social media users misquote Biden, manufacture gaffe

If Your Time is short

  • On CNBC, Biden said, “I’m prepared to say that I have a record of over 40 years and that I’m going to be Joe Biden. Look at my record.” The words “be” and “beat” sound similar. But CNBC’s transcript says Biden said “be.” In the context of the quote, “be” makes more sense.

Conservative social media users are misquoting former Vice President Joe Biden, sharing an out-of-context clip that they claim shows the Democratic frontrunner accidentally saying he is going to beat himself in the upcoming presidential election.

"Joe Biden tells voters he’s ‘going to beat Joe Biden,’" said the headline from a May 25 article on saraacarter.com. 

The post followed similar claims in tweets from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, his son Donald Trump Jr.Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and conservative pundits such as Fox News host Sean Hannity and Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson

It 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.)

The Biden campaign told us what multiple other reporters and fact-checkers had already pointed out: That what Biden really said was, "I’m going to be Joe Biden." 

What Biden said

Biden’s comments came during a May 22 interview with CNBC. 

Anchor Joe Kernen asked Biden if he felt "prepared now to say you’re going to govern as a progressive and enact programs in the mold of (Bernie) Sanders and (Elizabeth) Warren."

Biden replied by saying he was going "to be Joe Biden" and telling Kernen to "look at my record" before listing where he agrees and disagrees with Sanders and Warren on policies related to health care and student loan forgiveness.

Here's Biden’s full response, which you can watch here. We’ve put the relevant portion in bold.

"I’m prepared to say that I have a record of over 40 years and that I’m going to be Joe Biden. Look at my record. 

Featured Fact-check

"The fact is that some areas that I think, for example, I think health care is a right, not a privilege. I do not support Medicare for All. I will not support Medicare for All. But I do support making sure that Obamacare is around with a public option for those who can’t afford. Those who qualify for Medicaid and they don’t get it in their state, they would be able to buy, they would be able to be automatically enrolled in the public option of Medicare. 

"But I do not support forgiving debt loans for every single solitary person, no matter where you went to school. But I do support the idea, if in fact you have a student debt as a consequence of going to a public university, and your income is under $125,000, it should be forgiven. I do believe that anyone going to school, that in fact goes to a public university and/or community college, they should be able to go for free if income is under $125,000. My wife has a great expression: Any country that out-educates is going to out-compete us. We have a whole generation that’s being put behind the eight ball, Joe. You know that. They’re in real trouble, real trouble right now."

The saraacarter.com article spreading on Facebook included most of this context, but quoted Biden saying "beat" and isolated that quote in its headline.

Phonetically, the words "be" and "beat" do sound similar, and different people could hear different things from the clip. But the context of the quote — in which Biden explains how he plans to stay true to his record — suggests that he was saying "be."

Not only that, but the transcript prepared by CNBC quotes Biden as saying he is "going to be Joe Biden," not "going to beat Joe Biden." News reports from the Associated Press and the New York Times also quoted Biden in that way.

The author of the article for saraacarter.com did not respond to requests for comment. But after we reached out with the CNBC transcript, the website posted a new story headlined, "Did Biden Say He’s ‘Going To Beat Joe Biden’ on CNBC? The Network Says No."

That article says "many Twitter users heard what this news site reported hearing," citing the Washington Free Beacon and the tweets from the Trump campaign, Trump Jr. and Hannity.

Cotton, the senator from Arkansas, has since deleted the tweet he posted of the clip.

Our ruling

An article said, "Joe Biden tells voters he's 'going to beat Joe Biden.'"

In its complete context, the video from an interview with CNBC appears to show Biden saying he’s "going to be Joe Biden," not "beat Joe Biden." 

The words do sound similar, but the context is telling, with Biden saying he’s going to stay true to his own political positions. CNBC’s transcript quotes Biden as saying "be," not "beat," as do news reports from the Associated Press and New York Times. 

We rate this statement False.

Our Sources

Saraacarter.com, "Joe Biden tells voters he's 'going to beat Joe Biden.'" May 25, 2020

Saraacarter.com, "Did Biden Say He’s ‘Going To Beat Joe Biden’ on CNBC? The Network Says No," May 26, 2020

The Associated Press, "Biden aims to move left without abandoning centrist roots," May 25, 2020

CNBC on YouTube, "Watch CNBC's full interview with former Vice President Joe Biden," May 22, 2020

CNBC, "CNBC Transcript: Former Vice President Joe Biden Speaks with CNBC’s "Squawk Box" Today," May 22, 2020

Mediaite, "Trump Campaign Fabricates Joe Biden ‘Gaffe’ From Viral Tweet; Here’s What He Really Said," May 22, 2020

The New York Times, "Biden Apologizes for Saying Black Voters ‘Ain’t Black’ if They’re Considering Trump," May 22, 2020

The Washington Free Beacon, "Biden: I’m Going to Beat Joe Biden," May 22, 2020

Benny on Twitter, May 25, 2020

Sean Hannity on Twitter, May 24, 2020

Molly Nagle on Twitter, May 22, 2020

Andrew Kaczynski on Twitter, May 22, 2020

Daniel Dale on Twitter, May 22, 2020

Donald Trump Jr. on Twitter, May 22, 2020

Brad Parscale on Twitter, May 22, 2020

Trump War Room on Twitter, May 22, 2020

Jewish Deplorable on Twitter, May 22, 2020

Symone D. Sanders on Twitter, Dec. 5, 2019 

PolitiFact, "Yes, Biden did call voters a ‘damn liar,’ a ‘lying dog-faced pony soldier’ and ‘full of s---,'" March 12, 2020

Statement from the Biden campaign, May 25, 2020

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Biden beating Biden? Social media users misquote Biden, manufacture gaffe

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