A video of U.S. President Joe Biden signing a bipartisan infrastructure bill generated speculation online: some users pointing to the blurred presidential seal on the podium, claiming this was evidence that he is not “the real president”; others claimed the clip was created with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). These claims are false, as other footage of the event shows the complete seal and no evidence of CGI.
“The presidential seal is blurred because Joe Biden isn't really the president,” a Twitter user wrote ( here ). “Why did they blur the seal, and how did that lady’s hand go through his head? Is this video fake?” a text superimposed in a Facebook iteration reads ( here ).
Footage from the same day shared by the official presidential ( here, 00:11 here, here), vice-presidential ( here, here) and the White House social media accounts ( here, here) do not show a blurred seal.
Federal statute 18 U.S. Code § 713 ( here ) regulates the usage of the presidential and other government seals, including its display.
The statute makes it illegal to display the seal or other likeness of it in advertisements, public meetings or telecasts, or any other media that may create a “false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof.”
In a 2018 Op-Ed ( here ), Yale Law professor Stephen L. Carter said the statute is “narrowly drafted to avoid trampling on First Amendment rights. Displaying a likeness of the seal is prohibited only when the use will create that “false impression of sponsorship or approval” — what courts in other contexts call “confusion as to source.”
The same pattern is viewable for other events: the seal is shown in the footage posted by the governmental accounts of the Biden administration ( here, here, here) whereas it is blurred or not shown in the images posted by their more personal accounts ( here, here, here).
The White House did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.
As alleged evidence of CGI, some users also pointed to the woman wearing a red scarf clapping.
“Blurred Seal Twitter is pretty hilarious but not as hilarious as no one noticing CGI Biden suddenly moving in front of clapping woman,” tweeted Stephen L. Miller contributor to The Spectator ( here, archived here). Other posts with the claim are viewable ( here, here, here).
When looking at footage of the scene from different angles, it is evident that the woman in question was farther away from Biden and there is no CGI.
A video by the Los Angeles Times from a wider angle corroborates this here timestamp 3:00).
Reuters has previously debunked social media posts on the false narrative that TV interviews showed a “body double” instead of Biden or that he used CGI ( here, here, here, here). Other baseless claims have suggested the White House is a “movie set” ( here, here, here).
President Joe Biden signed into law a $1 trillion infrastructure bill at a White House ceremony on Nov. 15 that drew the support of Democrats and Republicans who pushed the legislation through a divided U.S. Congress ( here ).
False. Claims that Biden event to sign a bipartisan bill used CGI or that he is not the real U.S. president are baseless.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
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