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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman January 29, 2021

Yes, Biden’s inauguration was legitimate. No, this isn’t a movie

If Your Time is short

  • Claims that the inauguration was fake or that Joe Biden is not the real president are not accurate. There’s no evidence.

  • The inauguration was witnessed by several people and broadcast live by numerous outlets. Biden has been seen several times in the White House.

A new conspiracy theory has blossomed among some people who believed that former President Donald Trump had an elaborate scheme to remain in office: that Biden’s inauguration was fake, and he isn’t the real president. 

The theory started to gain traction online when the Jan. 20 "storm" disrupting Biden’s inauguration didn’t happen. It  points to a myriad of ill-perceived discrepancies for what a real inauguration and presidency should look like. 

These claims fall short. Biden is the real president and his inauguration was legit. The day’s events were broadcast and live-streamed by several outlets including ABC, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox News, NBC and PBS

The event was much smaller this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But we know it happened because it was witnessed and documented by elected officials, former presidents, military members, reporters, photographers and performers. 

Social media posts and videos spreading the theory were 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 debunked a variety of claims that argue the inauguration didn’t happen and that Biden isn’t the legitimate president. 

"The White House’s inauguration video was unlisted"

Some people on Facebook claimed that the White House’s official inauguration video was unlisted on YouTube because it had more dislikes than likes. 

Indeed, the 34-minute video has many more dislikes than likes — currently 76,000 to 14,000 — but it is still up on the White House YouTube channel. Web archives show no record that the video was ever taken down.

"Biden’s executive orders aren’t available online"

According to one viral video, Trump’s executive orders were available on the Office of the Federal Register website "immediately," while there are still no sign of Biden’s.

That’s false. Biden’s executive orders may not have been uploaded at the time the video was made, but the documents are published on the site now. The online register shows that it also took a few days for Trump’s orders to be published after they were signed.

"Biden’s granddaughters disappeared and reappeared in between frames of inauguration coverage"

Some claim that the inauguration was staged because Biden’s granddaughters, who were standing behind him when he took the oath of office, suddenly disappeared in certain shots. 

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They didn’t. Biden’s granddaughters may not have been visible at certain points due to different camera angles, but they were present throughout the oath and did not move. They can also be seen standing behind Biden in photographs taken by Reuters and the Associated Press.

"Biden took a private plane to D.C."

Biden’s form of travel has nothing to do with the legitimacy of his presidency.

Biden originally planned to travel to Washington by train from Delaware, but that plan changed when it was deemed too great a security risk. So he took a private jet, which was also a break from tradition. 

Usually the outgoing administration provides a government plane to bring the president-elect to Washington for the inauguration. Trump, who refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory until early January, opted to not attend the inauguration, becoming the first outgoing president in more than a century to skip the event.

We previously reached out to the White House, but couldn’t confirm whether the Trump administration offered to provide transportation to the Bidens. CNN reported that "a source familiar with the matter" said the government didn’t offer the Bidens a plane, but did not provide further details. 

"Biden’s Oval Office is a movie set"

Some social media users have shared photos of Biden in the Oval Office and say they provide proof that it’s not the real presidential office but a movie set owned by Castle Rock Entertainment. 

Film sets of the famous room exist, but there is no credible evidence that supports this. Biden made a public entrance into the White House on Jan. 20 and was photographed in the Oval Office shortly after. He has been seen in the White House several times in the days that have followed.

Some point to a vehicle visible outside the window behind the Resolute Desk as Biden sits there, saying there is no parking lot in that location. But the Oval Office overlooks the South Lawn and has a private road and circular driveway, both places where the car could have been parked. 

Our ruling

A conspiracy theory circulating on social media says that Biden’s inauguration was fake and that he isn’t the real president.

The evidence is paltry. Biden was legally inaugurated as the 46th U.S. president on Jan. 20.

We rate the claims Pants on Fire!

RELATED: Pro-Trump lawyer falsely claims Biden is an ‘illegal president’ 

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Yes, Biden’s inauguration was legitimate. No, this isn’t a movie

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