President Joe Biden was confronted with intense backlash Monday following his inaccurate account of visiting Ground Zero in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
During remarks to troops at an Air Force Base in Alaska on the 22nd anniversary of the attack, Biden said he “felt like [he was] looking through the gates of hell” when he “stood there the next day” after the tragedy that brought the twin towers down.
The statement, however, is false -- as many social media users quickly pointed out. Biden was not at Ground Zero the day after the attacks but was in Washington, D.C., speaking out as a U.S. senator.
“This is a lie! [Biden] WAS NOT at Ground Zero on September 12, 2001,” former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said.
Greg Price, a conservative communications pro, tweeted: “Joe Biden just completely lied about being at Ground Zero the day after 9/11. He was in DC. The Senate convened on 9/12/01 to condemn the attack.”
New York Post columnist Miranda Devine chimed in with: “I can’t remember Biden being at Ground Zero on September 12.”
Fox News contributor Guy Benson questioned if Biden “poach[ed] this memory and description from Hillary Clinton, who actually was there on 9/12/01?”
In response to queries about why Biden did not go to any of the 9/11 attack sites, the White House provided an analogy claiming U.S. presidents were no longer visiting Pearl Harbor yearly after Japan attacked it 73 years ago.
On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Ground Zero in Biden’s stead.
Supporters of the president claimed his mistake had zero significance and quickly sought to move on.
“It’s true, Joe Biden was in DC on September 12, 2001. It is also true that he visited Ground Zero after the attacks. It’s a minor mistake, as he was in NY just weeks later for vigils. This was just a verbal slip, let’s move on,” said New York State Senator Brad Hoylman.
However, many online criticized Biden for inaccurately referencing his experiences of being at Ground Zero as well as potentially attempting to pilfer credit from those who had actually visited the site on Sept. 12.
“This isn’t a verbal slip. Biden is the one who brought it up. We should have expected the president would get the facts right on a day when there are ample records of what happened,” tweeted political columnist Jeff Hauser.
The president’s claims made headlines on the day and sparked numerous conversations about his credibility. While Biden moved on to his next engagement, the response is likely to continue in the days ahead.