In a speech in Anchorage, Alaska, yesterday to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Joe Biden told service members, first responders, and their families that he visited Ground Zero the day after the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. “Ground Zero in New York,” he remarked. “I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building. I felt like I was looking through the gates of hell, it looked so devastating from where you could stand.”
Despite what he said, Biden, who was then the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, did not visit Ground Zero on September 12, 2001. He was in Washington that day, participating in a Senate session to consider a joint resolution condemning the attacks, which passed unanimously. (Click the image to watch the video of Biden’s speech.)
While New York Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer did travel to the World Trade Center site later that evening, Biden did not. Instead, he appeared on WNET’s Charlie Rose—via satellite from Washington—for a segment discussing the international and congressional response to the attacks, a fact identified yesterday by National Review’s Noah Rothman. Notably, the New York Post reported that Biden’s own 2007 autobiography did not include any mention of visiting Ground Zero in the days immediately following the attack. In reality, Biden did not visit the site until nine days later—on September 20—as part of a delegation of fellow senators.
Maybe Biden should be offered some grace for misremembering the days following September 11—after all, many Americans now confuse the facts of the day according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. However, this is not the first time that Biden has been caught embellishing details of his own life experience, and similar incidents relating to a 2004 house fire and a supposed arrest while trying to meet Nelson Mandela in South Africa have drawn criticism in recent years. As far back as 1987, Biden famously admitted that claims that he attended law school on a full ride scholarship and had been named the outstanding student in the political science department as an undergraduate were inaccurate.
If you have a claim you would like to see us fact check, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to suggest a correction to this piece or any other Dispatch article, please email email@example.com.