Fact Check: Did Joe Biden Get 'Lost' on UN Stage in Viral Video?

President Joe Biden caused a stir online after videos circulated of him appearing to get lost on stage after delivering a speech. Biden spoke at the Global Fund Conference in New York on Wednesday, an event aimed at fighting AIDS, HIV, and other diseases.

After concluding his speech, Biden stepped away from the podium and lingered on the stage before turning around after hearing his name mentioned by the following speaker.

The video was widely shared on social media, including by Biden's opponents, fueling a persistent narrative about the president's purported cognitive issues.

Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden speaks during the Global Fund Seventh Replenishment Conference in New York on September 21, 2022. A video of Biden appearing to get lost on stage after his speech has gone viral with many questioning the Presidents wellbeing. Mandel Ngan/Getty

The Claim

When the clip went viral on social media, multiple commentators, and social media users questioned Biden's mental well-being. Biden's health has been scrutinized regularly throughout his presidency, though the White House says Biden is fit to lead the country.

The latest in a string of misleadingly edited or decontextualized videos went viral on Twitter, Reddit and Telegram, among other platforms, drawing mockery and sarcastic comments.

A clip of this moment was posted by the Twitter page RNC Research, which is dedicated to "exposing the lies, hypocrisy, and failed far-left policies of Joe Biden," according to its bio.

The video has been viewed more than 6.4 million times and was captioned: "Where ya going, Big Guy?"

Johns Hopkins economist Steve Hanke, who has been known to share misleading content, as Newsweek reported previously, tweeted: "Following a speech, President Biden was literally LOST ON STAGE. Our fearless Commander in Chief is UNABLE to get on and off stage. Take a look."

Comedian Terrence K. Williams also mocked the President by reacting to the video and posting it with the caption: "What in the Lost and Found is going on with Joe Biden. Lord Jesus help us all."

"Senile Biden breaks down into PANICKED pacing after getting lost trying to exit stage - Forgot flashcards," the conservative commentator and activist Benny Johnson tweeted.

The Facts

Biden has been a common target of misleading content, not least because—as he himself has admitted—he's prone to making gaffes or appearing in awkward situations.

During his time in office, and with the media focus and attention that it entails, Biden regularly misspoke or blundered in public appearances.

However, as in many cases Newsweek and others have reported, they are often exaggerated or misrepresented due to missing context.

So here, too, arguments can be made in defense of the president, who was speaking onstage at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The clips of Biden leaving the stage show about 30 seconds of footage, from applause as his speech ends, to the camera shifting towards a new speaker at the end.

Biden can be seen heading to the left of the podium (stage right), where some photographers can be seen as he briefly freezes, possibly to pose briefly for a photo or wait for guidance (as he has been seen doing on past occasions).

The latter point is supported by the next few seconds, where it appears that Biden is speaking to someone out of shot.

While it is unclear what is being said, Biden's reaction to the response—stopping in his tracks rather than exiting the stage—suggests that he was told to remain until further notice.

Indeed, moments later he and other world leaders are called up on the main stage to take a photo together, providing a likely explanation for why the president awkwardly lingered at the side of the stage after his speech.

Biden also showed an understanding of where the stairs to get off the stage were (contrary to insinuations by some social media users that it was the wrong side), when he offered a hand to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to get her on stage when it was time for the photo.

These nuances were spotted by multiple social media users, who highlighted that the shortened clip does not show the whole picture.

"The whole video looks quite a bit different," one Twitter user wrote.

"He's so much sharper than 45 ever was. At the end he apparently thought he was done, but then had to linger there until they called him and the other's back up for a photo."

With so much scrutiny on them, American presidents have been targets of misleading or manipulated content, including deepfakes, shallow fakes, and out-of-context footage.

Newsweek has previously shown how the Biden administration was falsely accused of using a "deepfake" or body double of the president, while misleading videos of him putting a medal on "backwards" or "reading off a teleprompter" also circulated widely.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

The Ruling

Needs Context.

Misleading Material

While the shortened clip appears to show Biden uncertainly walking around the stage, the longer video provides some context for his behavior.

Shortly after leaving the podium, he appears to become aware that he was going to be needed moments later for a picture on stage, thus making the decision to remain on the platform.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek

Misleading Material: The claim is based on media that has been altered from its original form—such as an edited video or image—and is now misleading, misrepresentative, or deceptive, either intentionally or unintentionally.
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