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Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy October 13, 2021

Conservative commentator uses outdated photo in botched attack on 'Build Back Better'

If Your Time is short

  • Conservative commentator Kimberly Klacik posted a photograph of empty shelves at a grocery store, with a hashtag suggesting they were due to President Joe Biden’s economic policies.

  • The photograph was from a U.K. store in March 2020, during the earliest weeks of the pandemic. Klacik deleted the posts.

UPDATE, Oct. 14, 3:30 p.m.: This fact-check has been updated to include additional comment from Kimberly Klacik. The rating is not changed.

Conservative commentator Kimberly Klacik posted a photograph of empty supermarket shelves, with a hashtag falsely suggesting they were depleted by President Joe Biden’s policies.

"A look at #BuildBackBetter," Klacik wrote above the photograph in the Oct. 13 post shared on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The hashtag was an apparent reference to "Build Back Better," Biden’s COVID-19 relief, economic and infrastructure plan.

Supply chain disruptions have affected grocery stores throughout the pandemic and continue to hit some U.S. markets especially hard, the Wall Street Journal reported in August

But the photograph that Klacik shared is not from a U.S. store, nor was it taken during the Biden administration. 

Kimberly Klacik's Oct. 13 tweet, since deleted, was missing context.

The giveaway was the prices shown on the shelves. They’re listed in British pounds, not U.S. dollars. The original photograph appeared with an editorial published by the Guardian on March 27, 2020, about supply-chain disruptions during the earliest wave of the pandemic. "Empty shelves at a Tesco store in Worcester," the Guardian’s photo caption says.

Klacik is a Republican who lost her 2020 campaign for a U.S. House seat representing most of Baltimore. She deleted the posts soon after posting them.

Asked about the posts, she told PolitiFact: "Build Back Better is used in the U.K." She didn’t say whether her posts were meant to refer to U.K. stores or economic policies.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has used the same slogan and hashtag to describe his Conservative government’s pandemic recovery plan. The Independent reported that Biden formally launched his plan first, but Johnson had been using the phrase throughout 2020. 

But the March 2020 photo long predated either leader’s economic recovery plans.

After this fact-check was published, Klasic claimed that she deleted the posts to prevent confusion.

Even after Klacik deleted her tweet, screenshots of it remained online. PolitiFact was able to view the Facebook and Instagram posts via CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool. They 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 rate the posts False.

Our Sources

Kimberly Klacik on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Oct. 13, 2021

Reverse image searches on TinEye and Google, accessed Oct. 13, 2021

CrowdTangle, accessed Oct. 13, 2021

Mediaite, "Failed Republican House Candidate Kim Klacik Earns Ridicule After Posting False Empty Shelves Photo to Slam Biden," Oct. 13, 2021

The Wall Street Journal, "Why You Can’t Find Everything You Want at Grocery Stores," Aug. 22, 2021

The Independent, "Build back better: Who said it first — Joe Biden or Boris Johnson?" Nov. 5, 2020

The Guardian, "The Guardian view on empty supermarket shelves: panic is not the problem," March 27, 2020

Email correspondence with Guardian News & Media press office, Oct. 13, 2021

Email interview with Kimberly Klacik, conservative commentator, Oct. 13, 2021

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Conservative commentator uses outdated photo in botched attack on 'Build Back Better'

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