Biden’s Frequent Blunders Prompt Regular Corrections by White House Staff


While President Joe Biden is known for his blunders and colorful turns of phrase, his staffers increasingly are correcting his words after the fact via strikethroughs in the White House transcript.

The written record of a May 19 campaign speech in Detroit includes no less than nine corrections, a few of which created mini-news cycles of their own in real time.

One was when Biden recalled being vice president during the pandemic, saying “Barack,” meaning former President Barack Obama, told him to go to Detroit and “help fix it.” But Biden was running for president during the pandemic, and Obama had been out of office for three years.

The transcript replaced the word “pandemic” with “recession.”

In a separate spot, Biden spoke about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, describing the people who stormed Capitol Hill as “erectionists.”

The White House press team wrote the blunder as “irrectionists” and corrected it to “insurrectionists.”

Correcting the record has been a frequent habit of Biden’s staffers for years, one that the president’s critics say reflects his lack of fitness for the office.

“I’ve heard of cleaning up a president’s mistakes, but this is ridiculous,” presidential historian and Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley said. “It should be called the White House Mess team.”

An analysis from the Daily Caller conducted in late April found that Biden’s team had corrected his remarks at least 148 times since the beginning of this year, a figure that is now well north of 150. The outlet reported that former President Donald Trump‘s press team sometimes corrected his transcripts, but not with the regularity or intensity of Biden’s.

The Truth Voices has contacted the White House for comment.

David Pietrusza, another presidential historian, says both modern technology and media practice shine a brighter spotlight on the president’s words.

“In decades past, this was not quite the problem it is today,” he said. “Presidents would not be quoted directly at press conferences, and often they would not have their comments attributed directly to them. Instead, the press would cite ‘a high White House source.’”

Almost all of Biden’s public remarks today are streaming for the world to hear, and everyone knows it is him who spoke them. Even so, the practice of altering transcripts also appears to be a more recent phenomenon.

“Perhaps the most garbled presidential speaker prior to current times was Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Pietrusza said. “He was rather famous for such gaffes. But I have not heard of his transcripts being altered to smooth them out. It may have had higher standards for White House probity back then.”

Biden sometimes gives out incorrect data or numbers which are corrected later. In Detroit, he said the Affordable Care Act had saved millions of families $8,000 a year in premiums, which was later changed to $800. In yet another example from the same speech, Biden claimed his administration is “cracking down on corporate landlords who keep rents down.” “Who” was later changed to “to.”

Other examples abound from Biden’s many public speeches.

On Feb. 22, Biden said he had appointed “the first black Supreme Court justice.” The transcript inserted the word “woman” into the phrase.

On Jan. 5, Biden warned that Republicans were limiting “LGBQ” rights, with the transcript adding a “T” into the acronym.

Other missteps are simple issues of pronunciation or context, such as Biden saying “diabetes” when he meant “disabilities” or “Roe v. Ward” rather than “Roe v. Wade.”

One of the most famous examples of this phenomenon came during this year’s State of the Union address when Biden spoke about the murdered Georgia nursing student Laken Riley, who is suspected of being killed by an illegal immigrant.

The president, holding a button with her name on it given to him by Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA), appeared to call her “Lincoln” Riley.

The transcript had the mispronunciation as “Lanken” and corrected it to “Laken.”

Biden’s pace of blunders, followed by corrections from his press team, is unlikely to slow down as he winds down his first term in office and seeks a second.

Haisten Willis
Haisten Willis
White House Reporter. Before moving to D.C., Haisten was an Atlanta-based freelance journalist, writing for the Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and U.S. News & World Report, among other outlets. From 2020 to 2022, he was the national Freedom of Information Committee chairman at the Society of Professional Journalists.

Latest stories


Related Articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!
Continue on app