Fact check: Misleading post connects Biden comment that ‘country is doomed’ with African Americans

The claim: Joe Biden said “the country is doomed … because of African-Americans”

A December Zoom call between then-President-elect Biden and prominent national civil rights leaders prompted several social media posts that critiqued some of Biden’s comments.

An April 9 Instagram post picked up a report from Newsmax TV host Grant Stinchfield that focused on a discussion of America’s population of racial and ethnic minorities. It has been viewed more than 95,000 times. 

The post says, “did joe Biden just say that? ‘This country is doomed’ wait for it ‘Not just because (of) African Americans.’ “

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users for comment.

This post takes Biden’s comment out of context. Let’s take a closer look at the full statement.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to the crowd and takes questions during the Brown and Black Forum on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register)

Context shows true meaning of comment

Biden was on the call with then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and civil rights leaders including the Rev. Al Sharpton and Vanita Gupta, a longtime civil rights attorney who now serves as an associate attorney general in the Department of Justice in Biden’s administration.

Here’s the full quote:

“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 this country is going to be minority white European. Hear me? Minority white European. And you guys are going to have to start working more with Hispanics, who will make up a larger portion of the population than y’all do.”

So the “doomed” reference highlighted in the post was a reference to what came before it — and was omitted from the post — that the country is doomed if it can’t make significant progress on racial equity.

With that understanding, the “not just because of African Americans” line is clearly a reference to Black people being affected by the lack of progress, not a cause of doom as the post asserts. 

This was part of Biden’s broader point on the impact of America’s growing racial and ethnic minority groups, which he highlighted as he continued a few seconds later on the Zoom call.

“We’re going to have to be working with a whole group of people that in fact are the single most diverse democracy in American history, than anywhere in the world,” Biden said. “We gotta figure out how to unify this country. And you’ve been the leaders in being able to do that.”

Our rating: Missing context

We rate the claim that Biden said America is doomed because of African Americans MISSING CONTEXT, because this reference omits clarifying information before and after and, therefore, is misleading. Biden was saying that America is doomed “if we cannot make significant progress on racial equity,” and that Black people would be affected by that. Biden went on to say  he wants to find ways to unify what will be “the single most diverse democracy in American history.”

Our fact-check sources:

  • The Intercept on YouTube, Dec. 11, 2020, President-elect Biden’s Call with Civil Rights Leaders 
  • Reuters,  Jan. 22, Fact check: Biden’s comments about ‘doomed’ United States taken out of context 
  • PolitiFact, April 23, No, Biden didn’t say this country is doomed because of African Americans
  • NBC News,  Dec. 10, 2020, In leaked recording, Biden says GOP used ‘defund the police’ to ‘beat the living hell’ out of Democrats.
  • Grant Stinchfield, Dec. 24, 2020, tweet

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