Fact Check: Biden Is NOT A War Hero, Rhodes Scholar, Nor Harvard Law Grad

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: Biden Is NOT A War Hero, Rhodes Scholar, Nor Harvard Law Grad Nice Try

Is Joe Biden a war hero, a Rhodes Scholar and a Harvard law school graduate? No, he is not any of those. The claims that the president-elect did hold those distinctions was part of a satirical meme intended to test fact checkers. It was not a tough call, since Lead Stories quickly concluded it is not misleading or false -- since it includes a clear statement that it is just a test. We rate it as satire.

The claims appear in a meme in a post (archived here) published December 26, 2020 under the title "I bet this won't get fact-checked although it's 100% made up. Let's see what happens." It read:

Joe Biden was a war hero. He rescued his whole regiment and captured 3000 enemy soldiers. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. He was a Rhodes Scholar, graduating top of his Harvard Law School Class and went on to build a multi million dollar law firm in Boston. He then ran for Congress and was instrumental in creating NASA, the Peace CORP, The Dept. of Homeland Security and passed 11 balanced budgets.

Of course NONE of this is true. I made it all up, to see if the Facebook "fact checkers" will flag this as false and misleading, the way they did when I put up ACTUAL THINGS THAT TRUMP ACCOMPLISHED.

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

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Dec 28 00:38:57 2020 UTC)

A rating of satire by a fact checker carries no implications on Facebook except for an adjacent label that points to the fact check. It is intended to help those who might not recognize the claim as satirical, but a statement of truth.

For the record, Biden's campaign bio and biographies maintained by biography.com make it clear: Biden did not serve in the military, was never a Rhodes scholar, attended Syracuse Law School, not Harvard; practiced law in Delaware, not Massachusetts. As a U.S. Senator from 1973-2009, the only balanced budgets during his tenure recorded by TheBalance.com economic policy website (and several others) were those proposed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Historians do not credit Biden with creating NASA, The Peace Corps nor The Department of Homeland Security.

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  Dean Miller

Lead Stories staff writer Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a one-year Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy for six years. As Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting, a dual licensee, he oversaw radio, TV and print journalists, and documentary producers. He moved west to teach journalism at Western Washington University, edit The Port Townsend Leader and write the twice-weekly Save The Free Press column for the Seattle Times. Miller won the 2007 national Mirror Award for news industry coverage and he led the team that won the 2005 Scripps Howard first amendment prize. 

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