Excerpt from Barack Obama’s interview presented in a false context

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reading Time: 3 minutes


On June 29, Russian-speaking Facebook users (1,2,3) posted information according to which the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, commented on “the Biden corruption scandal,” saying that you cannot view the justice ministry as your personal law firm, and you cannot ignore the norms and legal barriers that have been set to prevent personal interests influencing the functioning of institutions. Some of the posts include a clip from Barack Obama’s interview with CNN. According to descriptions, it is in this clip that Obama comments on “the Biden scandal.”

Screenshot 4 13 Excerpt from Barack Obama’s interview presented in a false context

Barack Obama’s phrase is presented out of context and with a false description. In the interview with CNN, Obama was asked whether the American institutions would survive if Donald Trump wins the presidency again, to which Obama responded that he would not speculate on the outcome of a future election but would make a general statement that a president must take the oath of office seriously and must not use various institutions to pursue his or her own interests.

The video circulating on Facebook was a clip from Barack Obama’s interview with CNN on June 22. The interview focused mainly on the threats facing democracy and the future of democracy. In addition, the 44th President of the United States spoke about internal and external challenges too.

  • In his interview with CNN, Obama has not spoken about “the Biden scandal.”

The context of the excerpt being circulated on Facebook is different. Barack Obama does not speak about the Biden family. In the fourth minute of the interview, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asks Obama what will happen if Donald Trump is elected for the second time. According to Amanpour, it is said that the institutional guardrails of American democracy were strong enough to survive a one-term presidency, but the question is whether they are strong enough to survive if that kind of personality wins again.

In response to this question, Barack Obama said that he would not speculate on the outcome of a future election, although, as a Democratic, he has a deep interest in the outcome. However, he would make a general statement, which is that the country needs a president who takes the oath of office seriously and who believes not just in the letter but in the spirit of democracy.

According to Obama, the essential spirit of democracy is that, as a US president, you are just one representative of the people in a series of co-equal branches; there are checks and balances to which you are subject, and you cannot ignore them or make your own rules. You cannot view the Justice Department as your personal law firm; you cannot ignore the norms and guardrails that have been put in place to assure that your self-interest is not what drives these institutions but rather the interests of the American people.

Consequently, neither the journalist’s question nor Obama’s answer referred to Biden and his family members.

During the interview, Obama mentions Joe Biden several times. Obama believes that Biden has led the country extraordinarily through very difficult times. Biden will be able to demonstrate this during his next presidential campaign, and the American people will favorably assess his presidency. 

Archive links: 1, 2

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Topic: Politics
Violation: Missing Context
Country: USA

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