Facebook posts baselessly accuse former Vice President Joe Biden of wearing a wire during the first presidential debate. The low-quality videos and photos being cited don’t support that claim.
Unsubstantiated claims about former Vice President Joe Biden circulated on social media ahead of the first presidential debate — and they followed the Sept. 29 event, too.
Widely shared posts on Facebook and Twitter following the debate suggested that the Democrat was “wearing a wire” and receiving help with his responses during his square-off with President Donald Trump.
The erroneous claim followed earlier, unfounded suggestions that Biden would be wearing an earpiece during the debate, an assertion that echoes similar partisan claims made over the years by both sides. Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, reportedly called the claim “absurd” on a call with journalists and said, “Of course, he is not wearing an earpiece.”
And the low-quality photos and videos cited as evidence for the “wire” claim don’t support the argument.
On Facebook, a video shared more than 8,000 times shows a grainy recording of Biden putting his hand beneath his jacket as he appears to scratch his shoulder. The video zooms in and appears to show a line on Biden’s shirt.
“There it is, there it is. Biden’s wearing a wire,” a male voiceover says on the video. “Why do you need a wire, bro?”
Trump can be heard in the debate saying, “They can wear masks. They can do whatever they want. But they gotta open the states up. When you look at North Carolina…”
Higher quality video of that point in time during the debate (see below) shows the “wire” is actually a crease in Biden’s shirt.
Nevertheless, the claim has spread on social media. A similar video was uploaded to YouTube and was viewed more than 15,000 times. Users shared tweets using the hashtag #JoeWired.
Some posts slyly spread the falsehood in the form of a question. “Was Biden wearing a wire?” reads a meme that in one Facebook post was reshared 7,600 times.
That post and others homed in not only on the crease in the shirt but also on Biden’s wrist, with circles drawn to direct attention to a small object beneath the shirt cuff on his left wrist.
It’s unclear what exactly Biden had on his wrist, but there’s been no credible evidence put forward to support the notion that it was a “wire.” Instead, some have correctly pointed out that Biden is known to wear a rosary around his wrist in honor of his late son, Beau.
Biden talked about wearing the beads during a 2017 interview with Megyn Kelly, showing the rosary — also on his left wrist.
“I have not taken off the rosary Beau was wearing when he passed, since then,” he said. “It’s my connection with him.”
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.
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Fichera, Angelo and Saranac Hale Spencer. “Baseless Online Claims Target Biden Ahead of First Debate.” FactCheck.org. 29 Sep 2020.
“Joe Biden On Wearing His Son Beau’s Rosary Beads : It’s My Connection To Him | Megyn Kelly TODAY.” TODAY. 13 Nov 2017.
“Replay: The first 2020 presidential debate on CNN.” CNN. YouTube. 29 Sep 2020.
Rivera, Madeleine (@madeleinerivera). “Biden Deputy Campaign Manager @KBeds responded to this during a debate preview call today: ‘It is completely absurd. Of course, he is not wearing an earpiece, and we never asked for breaks.’” Twitter. 29 Sep 2020.
Roose, Kevin. “The Long History of ‘Hidden Earpiece’ Conspiracy Theories.” New York Times. 29 Sep 2020.