Fact Check: Joe Biden DID Call Service Members 'Stupid Bastards' On Camera -- But He Was Making A Joke About Them Not Clapping For His Comments

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Joe Biden DID Call Service Members 'Stupid Bastards' On Camera -- But He Was Making A Joke About Them Not Clapping For His Comments Out Of Context

Did Joe Biden call service members "stupid bastards" during a speech that was recorded on camera? Yes, but that claim is missing context. A viral claim implies Biden disrespected members of the military when he made the remarks at a military base in 2016. Then-Vice President Biden was making a joke when he called the service members "stupid bastards" when they didn't immediately clap for a comment he made about their fellow member. The short video clip takes Biden's comment out of context.

The claim appeared as a post (archived here) where it was published by "Still My President - Donald Trump" on September 26, 2020, under the title "Our Troops." It opened:

Video emerges of Joe Biden telling our servicemen and servicewomen to "clap you stupid bastards."

You be the judge on whether this is disrespectful. What would the media say if President Trump did this?

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Sep 29 21:07:36 2020 UTC)

Video of Biden making the comment is from March 2016 when he was giving a speech at the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, when he was still vice president.

Clips of the video have been posted on Facebook, showing Biden saying:

I just want you to know, notwithstanding what you may hear about me, I have incredibly good judgment. One, I married Jill. And two, I appointed Johnson to the academy. I just want you to know that. Clap for that, you stupid bastards."

The video has spawned a meme that has taken Biden's comments out of context. Donald Trump Jr. posted the meme that claims, "So the media uses unnamed sources to fabricate the story of Trump fictitiously calling servicemen losers and it's a top story. And Biden calls our service men and women "Stupid Bastards" ON FILM...and the media is silent."

This is the BS we are up against every day.

Posted by Donald Trump Jr. on Monday, September 28, 2020

Biden was referring to Lt. Karen Johnson, who had introduced him and whom he nominated to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy when he was still a senator from Delaware. In his remarks, he spoke highly about the troops and his late son, Beau Biden, who served as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, during his speech. Beau Biden died from brain cancer in May 2015.

Biden's presidential campaign released a statement noting he was joking when he made the "stupid basdards" remark and that he praised the troops.

Vice President Biden was jokingly encouraging the audience to clap for an airwoman on the stage, and a number of service members can be seen laughing and smiling at the comment," Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for Biden's campaign, told Politifact. "Seconds before, he praised them for 'the incredible sacrifices [they] make for our country.' He thanked them for their patriotism and courage throughout, and closed his remarks by saying, 'you're the finest generation of warriors the world has ever, ever known' -- receiving an enthusiastic ovation."

Biden's trip was covered by the Military Times, the Air Force Academy, the Salt Lake Tribune and Business insider.

The Daily Beast reported his comments from the speech in 2016 were made in jest:

Hello! (Applause.) It's great to see you all. Jill and I are really honored to be here. I've been doing this job for a while, and everywhere I go I see warriors like all of you before me and behind me here. Excuse my back, folks.
"I've been in and out of the Balkans 25 times; in and out of Iraq 26 times; in and out of Afghanistan about 10 or 12 times. And I have one regret every time I'm with you all -- and I mean this sincerely -- is the folks back home can't see you; can't see you in place. Don't get to fly on the mission with you. Don't understand -- they appreciate, but they don't fully understand the incredible sacrifices you make for our country.
"And I want you to know notwithstanding what you may hear about me, I have incredibly good judgment. One, I married Jill. And two, I appointed Johnson to the academy. I just want you to know that. Clap for that, you stupid bastards. (Applause.) Come on, man. Man, you are a dull bunch. Must be slow here, man. I don't know.
"Look, in full disclosure, Lieutenant Johnson, she came to see me in 2008 and I appointed her -- back in the days of the Senate. And I had the great privilege of nominating her to the Air Force Academy. And I'm so proud to see how her career has advanced.
"I also want to thank very much Brigadier General Orcutt for welcoming me and my family here today. And we know you all -- the temp ops here is pretty high, and you got better things to do than come and see Jill and me. But we never pass up an opportunity wherever we are around the world to try to see our warriors."

Biden ended the speech saying, "You're the finest generation of warriors the world has ever, ever known."

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

This fact check is available at IFCN's 2020 US Elections #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.


  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

Different viewpoints

Note: if reading this fact check makes you want to contact us to complain about bias, please check out our Red feed first.

About us

International Fact-Checking Organization

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Follow us on social media

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion