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USA Today reporter slammed for playing ‘victim’ in false Biden report

USA Today ‘fact-checker’ is slammed for playing the victim after wrongly dismissing reports Joe Biden checked his watch during dignified transfer of troops killed in Kabul as false

  • USA Today fact-checker Daniel Funke was ripped for labeling reports that Biden check his watch during honor ceremony for fallen soldiers as ‘partly false’
  • Funke incorrectly stated Biden checked his watch ‘after the ceremony had ended’ 
  • Funke took ownership of the mistake on Twitter and issued an apology 
  • But he was later slammed for ‘playing the victim’ after writing a tweet saying he was only human
  • Some came to his defense, but supportive tweets were overshadowed by angry reactions from people who said Funke called Gold Star families liars 


A USA Today fact-checker was slammed after wrongly labeling reports that President Joe Biden checked his watch during the dignified transfer of troops killed in Kabul as ‘partly false’ – then playing the victim while making a groveling apology.  

Daniel Funke made the error after Biden was criticized by the deceased soldiers’ family members and some media outlets, including DailyMail.com, for checking his watch during an honor service for the 13 service members killed in Kabul. 

On September 1, Funke classified the reports as ‘partly false’ for USA Today, saying, ‘Biden checked his watch, but he did so after the ceremony had ended.’

This drew immediate criticism on social media. Many ripped Funke for calling Gold Star families liars and told him that he needed to recheck the video.  

September 1 tweet after incorrectly labeling reports that Biden checked his watch during the honor ceremony as 'partly false'

September 1 tweet after incorrectly labeling reports that Biden checked his watch during the honor ceremony as ‘partly false’

Funke's September 3 Twitter thread apologizing for the error

Funke’s September 3 Twitter thread apologizing for the error 

President Joe Biden is under fire for appearing to look at his watch during Sunday's 'dignified transfer' onto American soil of the 13 American troops killed in Thursday's Kabul suicide bomb attack

President Joe Biden is under fire for appearing to look at his watch during Sunday’s ‘dignified transfer’ onto American soil of the 13 American troops killed in Thursday’s Kabul suicide bomb attack 

President Joe Biden attended on Sunday the dignified transfer of the remains of service members killed in the Kabul airport attack

President Joe Biden attended on Sunday the dignified transfer of the remains of service members killed in the Kabul airport attack

The USA Today ‘fact check’ was corrected, and two days later – on September 3 – Funke posted the updated story on Twitter and said, he ‘regrets’ his error.

‘Journalists and fact-checkers are human (yes, even me!) We make mistakes. When we do, we correct them and try to make it right,’ Funke tweeted. 

‘It’s easy to dunk on journalists when we get things wrong. I get it – to many, we’re just another name on a screen. But behind that screen is a person trying to do their best.’ 

Funke’s initial tweet said: ‘New fact check: A viral photo makes it look like President Biden checked his watch during a ceremony honoring U.S. service members killed in Kabul. But that’s misleading.’

The journalist then added: ‘Biden checked his watch, but he did so after the ceremony had ended. Watch the video for yourself,’ alongside a link.  

Several people came to his Funke’s defense, like editor Jordan Liles from fact checking website Snopes.com, who tweeted, ‘Corrections are the hallmark of an exceptional journalist. Corrective action in a newsroom shows readers that they can trust that organization. 

‘Anyone who dunks on that needs a hug and a nap.’

But supportive tweets like that were eclipsed by the hundreds of angry Twitter replies. 

At some point, Funke switched ‘who can reply’ to Twitter users he follows or mentioned, dramatically limiting the amount of criticism he could receive in response to the tweet.   

‘He checked his watch 13 times, each time after a casket passed him,’ ‘Paula Alquist Anton’ tweeted. 

‘This video does not show him after each casket passed him, eyewitnesses notice him each time. Nice try on the cover up.’

‘Ann Mitchell’ tweeted, ‘Your bio says checking facts and covering misinformation. How can you post this obvious lie? The families themselves who were there stated this did in fact happen multiple times!’ 

‘Blake_LDA’ tweeted, ‘Exactly! Fact checker or excuse maker?! What a complete joke of an article…do better.’ 

‘Lindsey Utley’ tweeted, ‘Why have multiple gold star families stated they started counting because he looked at his watch repeatedly? 

‘Gold-star families deserve so much better. Don’t spread propaganda…borrow those marine’s courage and return to real journalism and speak the truth. America needs it.’

‘Boss Hogg’ tweeted, ‘You’re calling multiple Gold Star families who all separately said he checked his watch MULTIPLE times liars now?’  

These were just a few of the hundreds of angry tweets Funke received in response to his error

These were just a few of the hundreds of angry tweets Funke received in response to his error

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