Vice President Joe Biden once again dodged questions from the press Sunday, walking from Mass to his motorcade while a pool reporter yelled “Mr. Vice President, come back to us!”
Biden dodging media interactions is not surprising, even if it is very strange for a modern political campaign. What is unusual are some of the people who are defending his dodging of reporters and difficult questions, among them The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, who claimed Biden was visiting his son’s grave and shamed the President Donald Trump’s campaign for criticizing Biden. Worse still than flacking for Biden when he is supposed to be reporting on his campaign, is that there’s no evidence Dovere’s version of events happened at all.
A press pool report and a video from Sunday recorded Biden walking out the front door of his church after Mass, along a path that leads past some administrative buildings and to the parking lot. Francis Brennan, the Trump campaign’s director of strategic response, tweeted a video of the candidate declining to speak with the press.
REPORTER: "Mr. Vice President come talk to us."
Joe Biden just keeps meandering along. pic.twitter.com/6tnNQj2Ucg
— Francis Brennan (@FrancisBrennan) September 6, 2020
The Atlantic’s Biden reporter was, for some reason, quick to fire back, tweeting that the Trump campaign was mocking the former vice president while he was “visiting his son’s grave” — an accusation that spread rapidly on Twitter, leading to multiple news stories.
In July, a RNC spokesman mockingly tweeted a photo of Biden and his dead son as a boy. Today, a Trump campaign spokesman mockingly tweeted a video of Biden visiting his son’s grave. pic.twitter.com/3v15U4eWe7
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) September 6, 2020
The problem is that this isn’t true.
Biden makes a habit of arriving late at Mass and leaving a little early so his security detail causes less disruption to parishioners. On Sunday he attended the mid-morning Mass, leaving a few minutes before 11:30 a.m.
A press pool report and a video record him walking out the front door of the church along a path that leads past administrative buildings and to the parking lot that borders Montchanin Road. Two minutes after he emerged from the church and went to the motorcade, he was on the road, and four minutes later he was home.
Like a lot of old churchyards, the original cemetery surrounds the path, with two expansions nearby for more recent burials. Biden’s first wife, his daughter Naomi, and his recently deceased son, Beau, are all buried in the church’s cemetery.
The church’s only doors exit into the old cemetery, so any picture or video from where the press and any other onlookers were along the northern loop of Old Church Road would show tombstones, but Biden did not slow down or stop this Sunday morning to visit any graves. Specifically to Dovere’s claim that he was visiting the grave of his son, Biden didn’t go to the more recent cemetery section across the road where Beau Biden is laid to rest.
Dovere covers the Biden campaign, so he has access to the pool reports that show his accusation is simply wrong. He did not respond to The Federalist’s request for any possible unknown circumstances that justify his accusation. Biden campaign rapid response directors Mike Gwin and Andrew Bates similarly did not provide any information to clear up Dovere’s claim.
This most recent incident might be less surprising, however, when people realize he is the same reporter who asked Biden what he thinks “about President Trump’s soul and the life he leads?”
Dovere’s false accusation and question join a growing list of recent breakdowns in journalistic standards at the once-storied Atlantic. On Thursday, Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg published a badly sourced, difficult-to-confirm, belief-stretching story about President Donald Trump denigrating America’s honored dead at Belleau Wood, France that has since been publicly contradicted by multiple primary sources. Just weeks before this, a Federalist investigation revealed a story about a police officer shooting a child in a community recreation center and going unpunished was false on nearly every level but had gone unchecked by once-storied fact-checkers.
While eventually forced to “update” the false article on the police officer, no “update” has been given to the Belleau Woods article, despite the editor in chief acknowledging on CNN the opening paragraph is demonstrably false. Dovere has also not deleted or updated his false accusation, although he has since tweeted two jokes about lazy journalism.