Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the White House in Washington on Jan. 27, 2022. (AP) President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the White House in Washington on Jan. 27, 2022. (AP)

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the White House in Washington on Jan. 27, 2022. (AP)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy January 28, 2022

Deceptive RNC edit takes Biden’s words on taking Supreme Court questions out of context

If Your Time is short

  • The Republican National Committee’s tweet included an edited video, as well as a shortened quote, that cut President Joe Biden off midway through his sentence, leaving a misleading impression about what he said.

  • The selectively edited tweet and video showed Biden saying, “I’m not going to take any questions because I think it’s inappropriate.” 

  • Biden was speaking at a White House event to honor retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who Biden has pledged to replace with a Black woman. His full remarks were: “I’m not going to take any questions because I think it’s inappropriate to take questions with the justice here. He’s still sitting on the bench … but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get me later today and for the rest of the week, and next week too.”

The Republican National Committee posted a selectively edited video of President Joe Biden to give the misleading impression that Biden said taking questions from reporters is inappropriate.

"BIDEN: 'I'm not gonna take any questions because I think it's inappropriate,'" said the Jan. 27 tweet from the RNC Research account, which received a few hundred retweets and likes. 

The tweet showed a 3-second clip from Biden’s event honoring the retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a Clinton administration appointee who spent 28 years on the bench. 

But the video and tweet took Biden’s comments out of context and cut him off mid-sentence. What’s left is an abbreviated, misleading quote that doesn’t accurately capture what Biden said.

The president’s full remarks, as seen on video and in the White House’s official transcript, show that he was not speaking about taking questions in absolute terms. 

Biden reiterated his commitment to nominate a Black woman as Breyer’s replacement during his speech. Then, after Breyer spoke, Biden wrapped up the event and said that it would be inappropriate to take questions in front of Breyer, since the justice is "still sitting on the bench." Biden went on to say that there would soon be other opportunities for reporters to ask him questions. 

Featured Fact-check

Here’s what Biden said to close the Jan. 27 event, with the comment the RNC plucked out in its deceptive tweet highlighted in bold for emphasis:

"That you all so very, very much for being here. And I’m not going to take any questions because I think it’s inappropriate to take questions with the justice here. He’s still sitting on the bench and — I’ll give you your mask back — and, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get me later today and for the rest of the week, and next week too. So thank you very much. Thank you."

The Associated Press reported on Jan. 9 that Biden held fewer news conferences and participated in fewer media interviews during his first year in office than his recent predecessors had — although the outlet also reported that Biden more frequently fielded questions during his public appearances than those same predecessors, citing research from a Towson University professor.

But Biden did not say Jan. 27 that he thinks taking questions in general is inappropriate. The RNC tweet abbreviated Biden’s remarks to leave that misleading impression.

The tweet contained an element of truth — the words it highlighted did indeed come out of Biden’s mouth — but its editing and presentation omitted what Biden said next, critical information that would give a different impression. 

We rate the tweet Mostly False.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Bill McCarthy

Deceptive RNC edit takes Biden’s words on taking Supreme Court questions out of context

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up