Conspiratorial messages on social media claim that a video of President Biden on the White House’s front lawn during a brief exchange with reporters wasn’t real, and utilized “green screen” video manipulation. Such claims seem to hinge on the observation that Biden’s hand “goes through” a boom microphone visible in the bottom of the video feed.
Conspiracy theorists have been using the claim to promote a variety of wild conspiracies, including the claim that Biden isn’t really the President and is not allowed inside the White House, or that the president is so incapacitated he cannot walk across the White House lawn. Some even claim Biden passed away and every appearance of him on TV screens has been digitally manipulated or uses “deep fake” technology (despite the technology not currently being sufficient to evade detection from those in the video industry.)
The bizarre claims are being promoted heavily on social media, especially on Twitter and YouTube. However, not only do the core claims that Biden used a green screen in the video fail to stand up to basic scrutiny, there are plenty of alternative videos and photographs as well as first hand testimony demonstrating that the video is clearly genuine.
Firstly, the underlying claim that Biden’s hand went “though” a boom microphone at the bottom of the video feed is false. The claim seems to be borne out of a mild illusion caused by perspective, where some viewers assume that the microphones at the bottom of the video feed are closer to the camera than Biden is.
However, as the president leans in to answer a question from a reporter, his hands are now closer to the cameras than the microphones. This appears to have caught some viewers off guard as his hands cover the microphones as opposed to the other way around. Consequently many viewers have jumped to the conclusion and explained the phenomenon by claiming this is digital manipulation.
Moments later the president visibly leans back after answering a question and now the microphones are closer to the camera than Biden, and the microphones cover Biden’s hands as he begins to walk away. But at no point in the video do Biden’s hands go “through” any of the microphones.
But even if you don’t accept this explanation, there are plenty of other videos and photographs of the same encounter.
Firstly this image from Getty Images taken by Drew Angerer.
Another image from The Washington Times taken by AP photographer Patrick Semansky.
Another image taken from Reuters photographer Tom Brenner.
And finally this video from The Washington Post that shows the same encounter.
Even the boom operator took to Twitter to address the nonsensical claims. Steve Herman, who words for Voice of America news, posted the below tweet.
I was the one holding the lighter-colored fuzzy microphone and thus literally in front of @POTUS on the South Lawn. It's all real. Who actually believes this 'faked moon landing' type nonsense and more importantly who is spreading it? https://t.co/9V3t0oqDz6
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) March 17, 2021
To believe this claim, one would have to assume not only that there exists a plethora of fake photos and videos from different angles from different media outlets, all somehow showing the same digital manipulation, but you’d also have to accept that hundreds of people, from Biden’s security detail, fellow politicians, reporters, boom mic operators and photographers, all conducted some large scale operation – without any leaks – to fake a short video of President Biden walking down the White House lawn.
That doesn’t make any sense.
We rank this claim as false.