Fact Check: Joe Biden Did NOT Say The U.S. Is 'Doomed' Because The U.S. Will Be Minority Non-Hispanic White In The Near Future

Fact Check

  • by: Victoria Eavis
Fact Check: Joe Biden Did NOT Say The U.S. Is 'Doomed' Because The U.S. Will Be Minority Non-Hispanic White In The Near Future Deceptive

Did Joe Biden say "this country is doomed" because non-Hispanic white people will become a minority share of the U.S. population in the near future? No, that's not true: This is a deceptively edited clip. He did say those words, but the rest of the words he spoke -- edited out for a TikTok post -- make it clear he is saying the country is doomed if we don't make progress on racial equity by the time non-Hispanic white people are outnumbered by other races.

The claim appeared in a TikTok (archived here) where it was published on December 18, 2020, with the caption "It just keeps coming...listen closely." In the misleading TikTok, Biden says:

This country is doomed. It is doomed. Not just because of African-Americans, but because by 2040 [sic] this country is going to be minority white European. You hear me? Minority white European, and you guys are going to have to start working more with Hispanics, who make up a larger portion of the population than y'all do.

This is what the TikTok looked like when it was posted:

@truthoveremotions

It just keeps coming.. listen closely 🦻🏼#fyp #fypシ #trump2020 #maga #usa #freedom #HaventSeen #PlantTikTok #MakeItMagical #DejaTuHuella #US

♬ original sound - LET FREEDOM RING!

But a video and audio recording of a video-conference call with civil rights leaders on December 8, 2020, shows President-elect Biden said at 1:14:09 the following:

I've worked with you my whole life most of you. I've been around doing this for a long, long time. I don't always get it right, but I always take responsibility when I get it wrong. I acknowledge I got it wrong, but my overarching objective: If we cannot make significant progress on racial equity, this country is doomed. It is doomed. Not just because of African-Americans, but because by 2040 [sic] this country is going to be minority white European. You hear me? Minority white European, and you guys are going to have to start working more with Hispanics, who make up a larger portion of the population than y'all do.

He did not say that the country is doomed because non-Hispanic white people will soon account for less than 50% of the U.S. population as the TikTok post implies. Rather, he said that the "country is doomed" if "significant progress on racial equity" is not made.

One of the reasons the misleading clip in the TikTok is gaining traction is because the footage of this meeting actually was leaked. The Intercept obtained the originally private footage and reported it earlier in December 2020. Biden's remarks on racial equity and the future begin at the 1:14:10 mark:

It is worth noting that data from the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2044 -- not 2040 as Biden said -- under half of the U.S. population will belong to the non-Hispanic white demographic group.

Lead Stories reached out by email to the Biden-Harris transition team for comment. We will update this story if a response is received.

Journalism ethics expressly forbid audio and video editing that changes meaning: The Radio Television Digital News Association's Code of Ethics says: "Professional electronic journalists should not manipulate images or sounds in any way that is misleading."

Similarly, the Society of Professional Journalists' ethics code says editing that changes meaning violates basic journalistic values:

Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.

While it is important for journalists to be succinct - oversimplification that removes integral facts, or is in the service of manipulation is a violation of some of the Society's basic principles,

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  Victoria Eavis

Victoria Eavis is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She recently graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. In her last few months at Duke, she was a reporter for a student news site, The 9th Street Journal, that covers the city of Durham, North Carolina. 

Read more about or contact Victoria Eavis

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