Former Vice President Joe Biden quickly ran into criticism following his long-awaited official declaration into the 2020 presidential candidate pool. The Democrat was criticized for a social media post some contended was a racist "dog whistle" to the alt-right, or a problematic gaffe.
On the same day Biden announced and was snubbed an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, Team Biden posted a series of photos to Instagram which later collectively read as a quasi-campaign sign. One of the posts was a photo of Biden standing alongside Obama; a large letter "N" is superimposed on the left side of the photo, where the former president is standing.
(See a screenshot of the collective posts, below)
In a medium post, Austin Zeli, a self-identified Andrew Yang supporter, suggested the post was evidence that Biden might be "dog-whistling" to the alt-right.
"His young PC social media team are hyper race conscious and someone purposely created this graphic," criticized Zeli.
He also highlighted a controversial statement Biden previously made about Obama. "I mean you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice looking guy," Biden said back in 2007. "I mean that’s a storybook man."
The comment section on the Instagram post was filled with comments displeased with the poor optics. Here are some examples:
The "N" on Obama? Coincidence or conspiracy?
Uncle Joe, putting your N over Obama wasn't the best placement…
N on Obama y’all ain’t slick LMAO
Well this one didn’t turn out well. Time for a new social media manager. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like a Biden presidency. But since this is the only post that showed up in my feed, it looks racist af.
'N' ON A PHOTO WITH OBAMA? I mean, could have chosen a different photo
It seems clear that this was an unintentional gaffe in a hyper-PC social media climate. Here's a screenshot of the collective Instagram posts:
Mr. Biden’s announcement video posted earlier in the day on Thursday was primarily focused on castigating President Donald Trump as a defender of white supremacists based on the president’s "very fine people on both sides" comment following the violent Charlottesville protest.
"He said there were, quote, 'Some very fine people on both sides,'" Biden said in the announcement video. "'Very fine people on both sides'? With those words the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it, and in that moment I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any other I’d seen in my lifetime."
Trump must be stopped in 2020 or "he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are," the former VP added.
As highlighted by The Washington Examiner, Trump’s "both sides" comment was plucked out of more than 15 minutes of questions with the press. "Trump made clear several times during the conference that he was referring specifically to those who had showed up to demonstrate against the statue’s removal and that he otherwise condemned the white supremacists," the outlet noted.
"I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. But not all of [the people at the rally] were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee," Trump said at the post Charlottesville presser.
Trump again clarified his stance, adding, "You had people, and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists."