Edited clip used to falsely claim President Biden did not recognize Rishi Sunak after landing in Belfast

By: Praveen Kumar
April 19 2023

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Edited clip used to falsely claim President Biden did not recognize Rishi Sunak after landing in Belfast


The Verdict False

Biden both recognized and greeted Sunak. Footage shows he shook hands with him after descending from his plane, which is missing from the viral clip.

Claim ID 71e67057


U.S. President Joe Biden visited Northern Ireland on April 11 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. According to Reuters, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed President Biden "on the runway at a windy Belfast International Airport." 

The visit was widely televised, and soon after, a Sky News video clip started circulating on Facebook and other social media platforms falsely claiming that Biden did not recognize Sunak, pushing him aside to salute the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim David McCorkell. Other captions on similar posts included Biden pushing "a person of color out of the way," or mistaking Sunak for a "bag carrier." 

However, the viral video has been edited to leave out the initial greeting and handshake between Sunak and Biden right after his arrival.

In Fact

We found that Sky News’ original video, uploaded to YouTube with the title "U.S. President Joe Biden lands in Northern Ireland." is a much longer version of the viral video. In the Sky News video, a small jump cut can be observed right after Biden descends from the plane. It is evident because the "live" label disappears as soon as the video cuts to Biden interacting with Sunak briefly before turning to the Lord Lieutenant.

However, Sky News has also published a version of the footage without the news ticker and the reporter's voiceover on its website titled "U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. prime minister Rishi Sunak shake hands." In that video, Biden can be seen greeting Sunak warmly and shaking hands with him. Hen then salutes the Lord Lieutenant and proceeds to introduce members of his entourage to him. He can then be seen once again talking to Sunak and even putting an arm on his shoulder as the group interacts.

Coverage from other news agencies of the event also shows the full interaction between Sunak and Biden. An official C-SPAN video titled "President Biden Greeted By British Prime Minister in Belfast" shows Biden and Sunak as soon as they meet, greeting each other with smiles and a handshake before Biden moves to salute the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim. Based on these observations, it is clear that the viral clip has a few seconds of video cut out.

This occasion is not the first time the president and prime minister have met in person. Official videos from 10 Downing Street show their previous meetings in Bali in November 2022 and San Diego in March 2023.

The Verdict

An edited video clip of President Biden meeting Rishi Sunak is being shared to falsely claim that Biden failed to recognize the U.K. prime minister. The unedited video shows Biden and Sunak greeting each other before other exchanges continue with other dignitaries welcoming Biden to Northern Ireland. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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