The administration was widely criticized after a Thursday tweet aimed at showing Biden’s progress since taking office included the obviously false claim. Biden himself had received his first COVID vaccination shot a full month before being sworn in.
“When President Biden took office, millions were unemployed and there was no vaccine available,” the tweet claimed.
When President Biden took office, millions were unemployed and there was no vaccine available.
In the last 15 months, the economy has created 8.3M jobs and the unemployment rate stands at 3.6% — the fastest decline in unemployment to start a President's term ever recorded.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 12, 2022
On Friday night, the White House admitted the tweet was mistaken, even as it sought to credit Biden with the larger rollout of the vaccines created under the “Operation Warp Speed” program of his predecessor, former President Trump.
“We previously misstated that vaccines were unavailable in January 2021,” the White House corrected itself. “We should have said that they were not widely available. Vaccines became available shortly before the President came into office. Since then, he’s responsible for fully vaccinating over 200 million people.”
By the time Biden was sworn in, both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s COVID vaccinations had been authorized for emergency use and about 1 million Americans per day were getting them. Biden himself had already received his second shot more than a week before his inauguration.
The backlash against the initial claim was so strong that even left-wing “fact checker” Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post called on the White House to “delete this false tweet.”
Who’s manning the @WhiteHouse Twitter account? Delete this false tweet. Biden himself has said 8% of seniors had gotten the vaccine on the day he took office. Biden was one of them. —> https://t.co/ojDmn1DNIQ https://t.co/V7z07DHQ90
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) May 13, 2022
CNN’s Daniel Dale also criticized the White House over the false claim
“’There was no vaccine available’ is very clearly false,” Dale tweeted. “More than 3 million Americans were fully vaccinated and more than 18 million had at least one dose by Biden’s Inauguration Day. Biden himself was fully vaccinated.”
White House COVID point man Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked Thursday by CNN’s Jake Tapper why the administration made the false claim.
“I just can’t explain it,” Fauci replied.
Despite the fact the tweet was clearly false, Twitter has still declined to take it down.
The embarrassing 180-degree turn comes as the White House is seeking to create a new office within the Department of Homeland Security to root out false information online called the “Disinformation Governance Board.” The Biden administration’s choice to run the panel is Nina Jankowicz, who Republican lawmakers say is a hardcore partisan with a dubious social media history that includes branding the Hunter Biden laptop story as a Russian disinformation campaign.
“Will the new Ministry of Truth be fact checking this absurd propaganda from the White House?” Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw asked on Twitter.