Fact check: After deplaning in Tampa, Joe Biden waved to firefighters in a field


The claim: Joe Biden waved to an empty field after deplaning in Florida.

A video that appears to show former Vice President Joe Biden waving to an empty field after deplaning in Florida circulated on social media last week amid unfounded speculation about the presidential candidate’s health.

The Hodgetwins, a conservative comedy duo, posted to their Facebook page a screenshot of a segment on Fox Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight” with a chyron that reads “Biden Appears to Wave At No One As He Deplanes In Florida Today.”

Sean Hannity also shared the claim — not once, but twice — on Facebook.

The conservative commentator first posted a video of the moment captioned “This Is Real: Biden Waves To An Empty Field.” Later, he shared a link to his site and wrote, “HELLO CORN! Biden Caught on Camera Excitedly Waving to a Completely Empty Field.”

Gateway Pundit ran with the story, writing “Biden Departs Plane in Tampa — Waves at Empty Field!”

The Hodgetwins, Fox Business, Hannity and Gateway Pundit did not respond to requests from USA TODAY for comment.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden steps off a plane at Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla., on a visit for campaign events on Sept. 15, 2020. Stories circulating online incorrectly assert a video of Biden deplaning here shows him waving to an empty field. An Associated Press reporter traveling with Biden on Tuesday confirmed he was waving to firefighters and other ground personnel outside the frame of the video.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden steps off a plane at Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla., on a visit for campaign events on Sept. 15, 2020. Stories circulating online incorrectly assert a video of Biden deplaning here shows him waving to an empty field. An Associated Press reporter traveling with Biden on Tuesday confirmed he was waving to firefighters and other ground personnel outside the frame of the video.

Biden waved to firefighters and ground personnel, per reporters at the scene

Although the footage of the moment is real, the assertion that Biden waved at “no one” or an “empty field” after he stepped off the plane in Florida is false.

From some angles, it may have appeared that he was merely gesturing to an expanse of turf. In reality, though, he was waving to a handful of people on the tarmac.

A reporter for the Associated Press confirmed that Biden waved to firefighters and other ground personnel on the right of the tarmac before waving to reporters on the left.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden steps off a plane at Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida, on Sept. 15, 2020. Biden is visiting Florida for campaign events.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden steps off a plane at Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida, on Sept. 15, 2020. Biden is visiting Florida for campaign events.

Tyler Pager, a reporter for Bloomberg, posted a video of the moment on Twitter. At the 15-second mark, at least four firefighters and a few firetrucks are visible in the background.

Sarah Mucha, a reporter for CNN, also posted about the brief interaction.

“Joe Biden spotted and waved to firefighters stationed on the tarmac as deplaned in Tampa, Florida, for his first trip to the state as the Democratic presidential nominee,” she wrote on Twitter.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, the claim that Joe Biden waved toward an empty field after deplaning in Florida is FALSE. In reality, he waved at firefighters and ground personnel on the tarmac, per reporters at the scene.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Los Angeles Times, Sept. 6, Denying ‘mini-strokes,’ Trump again introduces mental and physical health into campaign debate

  • Associated Press, Sept. 16, Video does not show Biden waving to an empty field

  • Tyler Pager, Sept. 15, Twitter

  • Sarah Mucha, Sept. 15, Twitter

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: In Tampa, Joe Biden waved to firefighters in airport field

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