Fact Check-Biden talked about corporations not paying ‘a cent’ in town hall hand gesture moment

A hand gesture U.S. president Joe Biden made during a CNN town hall in Baltimore on Oct. 21 was in reference to corporations not paying taxes. Some social media users are isolating a screenshot of the moment from this context to claim it resembles a white supremacist symbol.

“Biden flashed the white power sign.. omg,” a tweet with a screenshot of the CNN broadcast reads ( here ). Other posts on Twitter and Facebook are viewable ( here , here , here , here ).

Footage of the moment shows Biden was responding to a question from the audience about taxes and highest income earners in the country ( ).

Around timestamp 14:03 he can be heard saying: “You have 55 corporations for example in the United States of America making over 40 billion dollars, don’t pay a cent, not a single little red cent.”

He made the gesture pointed out on social media when saying “don’t pay a cent.”

There is no indication his gesture was in any way connected with white power. A transcript of the event is viewable on CNN’s website ( here ).

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) ( here ), the hand gesture in which “the thumb and index finger touch while the other fingers of the hand are held outstretched”, also commonly used as an “okay” gesture, has been linked to white nationalism since 2017 after hoax posts in 4chan promoted the gesture as a hate symbol.


Missing context. Biden made this hand gesture while saying corporations pay “zero cents”, in response to a question about tax rates.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .