A false claim that President Joe Biden placed a Medal of Honor “backwards” around the neck of a Vietnam War hero has gone viral on social media – with some conservatives citing the invented tale as supposed evidence of Biden experiencing mental decline.
A grainy video with the caption “Biden puts medal on backwards,” showing the President putting the Medal of Honor around the neck of retired Army Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell, was viewed more than 2.9 million times on Twitter between Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning. The video was viewed more than 1 million additional times on other Twitter posts with similar captions, and versions also circulated on Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and various anti-Biden corners of the web.
The claim is completely phony.
Facts First: Biden correctly put the medal around Birdwell’s neck, as clear footage of the Tuesday ceremony proves. The graininess of the footage that went viral on social media made it difficult to see that the medal was hanging entirely normally near the top of Birdwell’s tie.
You can watch clear footage here of Biden giving the medal to Birdwell at the White House. Nothing went wrong during the process.
After the Twitter post that received more than 2.9 million video views had been online for more than 24 hours and had received more than 2.4 million views, Twitter added a notice at the bottom of the post saying the video had been presented “out of context” and linking to previous fact checks. But other Twitter posts of the video with similar captions, including one that generated more than 971,000 video views, had not been labeled with any notice as of Friday morning.
Poster declines to take down false claim
The post that generated more than 2.9 million video views was published on Twitter on Wednesday by an obscure account that has sharply criticized Biden and promoted conspiracy theories. Anti-Biden commentators with six-figure followings then amplified that account’s inaccurate tweet, some of them adding their own assertions about how the video supposedly demonstrated that Biden is declining.
The person who operates the obscure Twitter account told CNN in a message on Thursday that they had found the video on Telegram, a messaging and chat app, along with the claim that the medal was backwards. The person said that although they are aware that people have said “it’s the way the medal is and it’s not backwards,” they do not plan to take down the viral tweet.
“I was debating deleting it and I decided not to because it’s Biden and he deserves the scrutiny,” they said.
You can read more here about the acts in 1968 for which Birdwell received the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest award for military valor. Following his Army service, Birdwell became a lawyer and eventually the chief justice of the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court.