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Fact check: False ‘evidence’ of Biden being wired or using earpiece  

Thousands of social media users have been sharing posts purporting to provide evidence that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was wearing a wire and an earpiece during the first presidential debate. Higher quality photos and videos of the event show that the mark on Biden’s shirt was likely a shirt crease, not a wire, and the object on his wrist appears to be a pen or a rosary that he wears to honor his late son.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the first 2020 presidential campaign debate with U.S. President Donald Trump, held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The first of three presidential debates between Trump and Biden took place Sept. 29 in Ohio (here). 

The “false evidence” may stem from the Trump campaign casting doubt over Biden’s possible use of electronic earpieces during the debate, without offering evidence. This was denied by the Biden campaign.

On the day of the debate, the Trump campaign released a statement by their communications director, Tim Murtaugh, saying “Joe Biden’s handlers several days ago agreed to a pre-debate inspection for electronic earpieces but today abruptly reversed themselves and declined” ( here ).

Biden’s Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield responded, “Of course he’s not wearing an earpiece” when asked about Murtaugh’s claim by a Washington Post reporter ( here ).  

THE “EVIDENCE”

Social media users shared what they believed was evidence that Biden was using some sort of electronic aids during the debate.

The posts featuring the claim ( here  ,  here   ,  here  , here  ) show pictures and videos of a line on Biden’s shirt, which appears after he pulls his hand out from underneath his blazer. Others also show something on Biden’s wrist ( herehere ).  

Some photos have the text “Biden was wearing a WIRE!?!” pasted under them and the posts have captions like, “And there you have it folks! Wired!”; “Look what I found… Biden has a wire”; “The guy in the video caught him #cheatingjoe”; “We don’t need a president that requires Adderall and a voice in his ear to get through 1 debate mostly coherently.”; “And there it is. #JoeWired.”

VERIFICATION

The mark on Biden’s shirt appears to be a crease, rather than a wire, as seen in this higher quality CNN video of the moment (see around 34:37 minute mark here:  rb.gy/54tmp1 ), which disappears a few seconds later when he moves. This higher-quality photo also shows that the mark is likely a shirt crease ( here ). 

The moment when Biden coughs, exposing something sticking out of left shirt cuff can be seen at the 3:37 minute mark of the same clip of the debate ( here: rb.gy/zaxv6y ).  

One photo from the debate here shows that Biden was wearing a watch on his left wrist under his sleeve. 

Biden is also known to wear rosary beads on his left wrist in honor of his late son Beau Biden, as he explains from the 2:04 minute mark ( here: rb.gy/8dhv8g ). The beads are small brown balls tied together on a red string with a metal tag, as can be seen clearly at the 2:24 minute mark of the video here: rb.gy/llqiq6 .  

The movement is too quick to ascertain the object’s identity, but in a screengrab of the video at 3:39 ( here: rb.gy/zaxv6y ), it looks very much like the tip of a pen tucked into his watch or rosary. Biden held onto a pen with a similar dark tip during the debate, visible in various photos from the night ( herehere ).   

Some claims circle Biden’s ear ( here ), alluding to a possible earpiece around the edges, but high definition versions of photographs showing his left ear do not show evidence of any foreign object on or around it ( here ).  

The organizers of these debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates, did not respond to Reuters request for comment as of this check’s publication ( www.debates.org ).  

VERDICT

False. Alleged evidence that Biden wore wire and earpiece during presidential debate show a shirt crease and, likely, a pen.

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

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