In September 2021, a photograph started to circulate on social media that supposedly showed U.S. President Joe Biden and a group of children wearing hats, shirts, and other memorabilia featuring slogans for former President Donald Trump.
This image was widely circulated on social media by those claiming that Biden had been “punked” by the kids, or that the president had been tricked into taking a photograph with children wearing Trump memorabilia. The @RealDonaldTrump Gab account — an account that reposts emailed statements from the former president since Trump has been banned by more popular social media networks — shared the image along with the caption: “These kids tricked Biden just like the Taliban did.”
This is a genuine photograph of Biden with several children wearing Trump memorabilia. However, there’s no evidence to support the claim that the president was “tricked” into taking this photo. In fact, Biden referenced this photograph as an example of unity and a social media account that appears to belong to one of the children featured in this image stated that Biden was aware of the hats. The child wrote on Instagram: “Yes [he was aware of the hats] he actually said “I believe in liking people even if they don’t like you.
This photograph was taken on Sept. 11, 2021, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, during an event to commemorate 9/11. Biden referenced this photograph as an example of unity after he was asked by a reporter what he had been thinking during the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Biden’s full response hit on a number of different topics. He talked about a friend of his who lost a son during the attack and the heroism of the passengers of United Flight 93. Biden also praised the remarks delivered earlier by former President George W. Bush regarding the forces that were dividing the country, and then talked about meeting the children in the viral photograph who were wearing memorabilia for his former political rival.
I thought that President Bush made a really good speech today — genuinely good speech — about who we are. We’re not — the core of who we are is not divided. It’s just this notion of — I don’t know how to explain it.
I think, Jeff, I talked to you a little about this. I think the real issue for those kids that — just had a picture taken with — couple of them had Trump hats from last year — I think, for them, it’s going to be: Are we going to, in the next 4, 5, 6, 10 years, demonstrate that democracies can work, or not?
There’s a lot of autocrats who truly believe that democracies can’t function in the 21st century. Not a joke. They think because the world is changing so rapidly and people are so divided, you can’t bring people together in a democracy to get a consensus, and the only ones that are going to be able to succeed are the autocrats.
That’s why it’s so damn important we demonstrate — everybody says, “Biden, why do you keep insisting on trying to bring the country together?” That’s the thing that’s going to affect our wellbeing more than anything else: how the rest of the world responds to us — knowing that we actually can, in fact, lead by the example of our power again. And I think we can do it. We got to do it.
This photograph was also posted by Jana Musser, the mother of one of the children wearing a “Make America Great Again” hats. Musser’s original caption for the image stated that “We may not always see eye to eye, but we can all come together to be United!”
“Biden Denies Being Duped into Posing for Photo with Children Wearing MAGA Hats.” The Independent, 13 Sept. 2021, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/joe-biden-viral-photo-trump-clothing-b1919346.html.
Biden Trolled after Posing for Picture with “MAGA” Clad Children at 9/11 Event in Shanksville. https://www.yahoo.com/now/biden-trolled-posing-picture-maga-172200211.html. Accessed 14 Sept. 2021.
Lemire, Joe. “With Bowed Heads, Americans Reflect on 9/11 and Its Aftermath.” The New York Times, 11 Sept. 2021. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/09/11/nyregion/9-11-20th-anniversary.
Permanent Suspension of @realDonaldTrump. https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2020/suspension. Accessed 14 Sept. 2021.
“Remarks by President Biden After Visiting with Firefighters and Their Families on the 20th Anniversary of the September 11th Attacks.” The White House, 11 Sept. 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/09/11/remarks-by-president-biden-after-visiting-with-firefighters-and-their-families-on-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-september-11th-attacks/.