On Tuesday evening, President Joe Biden traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to participate in a CNN Presidential Town Hall — his first as President of the United States. Speaking with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Biden fielded questions from audience members, some of whom voted for him and some of whom did not.
In a similar fashion to Biden’s television appearances while on the campaign trail, and the first days of his administration, the town hall event was dripping with falsehoods and misleading arguments.
Here is a breakdown of some such statements made during the CNN Presidential Town Hall.
“When we came into office, there was only 50 million doses that were available.”
Speaking on the subject of vaccine availability, Biden stated that he expected every American to be able to get a vaccine “by the end of July this year.”
“We have — we came into office, there was only 50 million doses that were available. We have now — by the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses — enough to vaccinate every single American.”
It’s unclear what data he is basing that on, but in early December, Forbes reported that the U.S. government “announced a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to purchase 100 million doses of the vaccine.” Technically, 100 million doses were available, enough to vaccinate 50 million Americans with two doses. In addition, Forbes reported “The deal also included an option for the government to purchase an additional 500 million doses.”
According to Forbes, a spokesperson for Health and Human Services stated that they were also expecting “100 million doses on the way from Moderna.”
In addition, the New York Times reported on January 21 that “The two companies with authorized vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, have each promised to provide the United States with 100 million vaccine doses by the end of March, or enough for 100 million people to get the necessary two shots.”
If Forbes’ report is accurate, then Biden was incorrect to say that there were only 50 million doses “available” at the start of his administration. It’s also misleading to claim that the increase of available doses is purely a result of Biden’s policies, given that millions of additional doses were promised before he entered office.
“It’s one thing to have the vaccine, which we didn’t have when we came into office”
Continuing on the subject of vaccines, Biden then claimed that there was no vaccine available at the start of his administration.
“And the biggest thing, though, as you remember when you and I — no, I shouldn’t say it that way, ‘as you remember’ — but when you and I talked last, we talked about — it’s one thing to have the vaccine, which we didn’t have when we came into office, but a vaccinator — how do you get the vaccine into someone’s arm? So you need the paraphernalia. You need the needle, and you need mechanisms to be able to get it in. You have to have people who can inject it into people’s arms,” Biden told Cooper.
Earlier, Biden had also said that “What we did, we got into office and found out the supply, there was no backlog, I mean, there was nothing in the refrigerator, figuratively and literally speaking.”
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler defended these false arguments, with his first claim being an example of a “typical Biden gaffe.”
It was a verbal stumble, a typical Biden gaffe, as he had already mentioned 50 million doses being available when he took office. Ex Trump officials should especially cool the outrage meter, as it just looks silly. https://t.co/HFjH01lXgH
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) February 17, 2021
CNN’s fact checker Daniel Dale also defended Biden.
Biden had said just prior that there were "only" 50 million vaccine doses when he took office. I'm looking into that claim (and a bunch of other claims Biden made tonight), but he clearly wasn't trying to claim the vaccine did not exist at all under Trump. https://t.co/2EtKDWyR7o
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 17, 2021
Open the majority of schools… “in K-through-eighth grade”
In early December, Joe Biden pledged “to bring the coronavirus pandemic under enough control to open most of the nation’s schools during his first 100 days as president.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki backtracked earlier this month, saying that Biden’s goal “is to have the majority of schools, so more than 50 percent, open by day 100 of his presidency. And that means some teaching in classrooms. So at least one a day week, hopefully it’s more. And obviously it is as much as is safe in each school and local district.”
When Cooper stated, “your administration had set a goal to open the majority of schools in your first 100 days. You’re now saying that means those schools may only be open for at least one day a week,” Biden responded with “No, that’s not true.”
“That’s what was reported; that’s not true. There was a mistake in the communication. But what I — what I’m talking about is I said opening the majority of schools in K-through-eighth grade because they’re the easiest to open, the most needed to be opened, in terms of the impact on children and families having to stay home.”
This “mistake in the communication” places the blame on Jen Psaki, while ignoring that Biden stated in December that his “team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days.”
Biden flip-flops on vaccine priority
Continuing on the subject of COVID-19 vaccinations, Biden was asked whether there is a plan to prioritize those who are “most vulnerable”.
When asked, “Do you have a plan to vaccinate those who are most vulnerable sooner, to give them a priority?” Biden said, “Well, the answer is: Yes, there are.”
The next audience member asked Biden whether vaccine assignment based on “racial equity” was a priority.
“Considering COVID-19 and its significant impact on black Americans, especially here in Milwaukee, and thus the exacerbation of our racial disparities in healthcare, we have seen less than 3 percent of blacks and less than 5 percent of Hispanics, given the total number of vaccines that have been administered to this point. Is this a priority for the Biden administration? And how will the disparities be addressed? And that’s both locally and nationally,” Biden was asked.
“Well, first of all, it is a priority, number one,” the president responded.
These two answers are, arguably, incompatible, given that race is not a primary risk factor for COVID-19.
“We’ll create 7 million jobs this year. Seven million jobs this year.”
Speaking of his COVID relief proposals, Biden said that “we can come roaring back.”
“It’s estimated that if we — by most economists, including Wall Street firms, as well as — as — as, you know, think tanks — political think tanks — left, right, and center — it is estimated that if we pass this bill alone, we’ll create 7 million jobs this year. Seven million jobs this year,” Biden said.
According to Marki Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, the U.S. job market would recover to its pre-pandemic levels by fall of 2022 if Biden’s “rescue plan” is implemented, with the economy creating 7.5 million jobs in 2021.
However, the bipartisan nature of Biden’s claims are massively overblown, with his proposals receiving criticism “from both parties on Friday after Larry Summers, a former top White House economic adviser in the Obama administration, penned an op-ed warning that the administration’s massive spending package could funnel too much money into the economy, eventually sparking high inflation and crowding out other progressive policy priorities.”
Trump didn’t condemn the Proud Boys
After claiming that he “got involved in politics to begin with because of civil rights and opposition to white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan” — which itself is questionable — Biden then stated that he “asked [Trump] to condemn the Proud Boys” during their debate, and that “He wouldn’t do it.”
This is simply inaccurate. During the debate, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he was “willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups? And to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities, as we saw in Kenosha, as we’ve seen in Portland? Are you prepared specifically to do that?”
Trump responded immediately with “Sure, I’m prepared to do it.” During the confused argument which followed, Trump asked Wallace “What do you want to call them?” Wallace responded “White supremacists and, white supremacists and right-wing…” while Biden interrupted saying “The Proud Boys,” who are not a white supremacist group. Trump then said “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” not “Stand by. Stand ready,” as Biden claimed.
While Trump’s response was a valid target of criticism, it is false for Biden to claim that this unclear interaction between three parties was equivalent to Trump refusing to condemn the Proud Boys.
While speaking on the subject of systemic racism, Biden claimed that higher insurance premiums in “black neighborhoods” was an example of institutional bigotry.
“You realize — I don’t know what home you live in, but if you go ahead and you want to get insurance, and you’re in a black neighborhood, you’re going to pay more for the same insurance that I’m going to pay for the exact same home. Your car — you never had an accident in your car. If you live in a black neighborhood, you’re going to pay a higher premium on your car.”
Whether intentionally or otherwise, Biden misses the obvious fact that insurance premiums are priced based on risk. Location is a factor when estimating risk, and if there is higher crime in one neighborhood compared to another, for example, then the risk factors are higher. Given that “low-income people and racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected” by violent crime, and neighborhoods are generally grouped by race, its unsurprising that, due to a correlation between communities with a larger minority population and the rate of crime, insurance premiums in these areas will be higher. This does not, however, make race the primary factor, as implied by Biden.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.