Biden was speaking hypothetically on aiming big and said the following:
“One of the things I'm always asked is why Americans have sort of lost faith for a while in being able to do big things. If you could do anything at all, Joe, what would you do? I said ‘I'd cure cancer.’ They looked at me like, ‘Why cancer?’ Because no one thinks we can. That's why. And we can.”
His next sentence caused a media storm of mixed reactions. According to the official transcript of the speech, Biden said, “We can end cancer as we know it.”
However, the President slurred his words, and many media outlets reported Biden as saying, “We ended cancer as we know it.”
The clip can be viewed here.
While it’s apparent the President was speaking hypothetically about his dreams of ending cancer, and made a mistake if he said, “We ended cancer as we know it,” many prominent right-rated outlets did not acknowledge that context in their coverage. Some framed Biden’s remark as either intentional and reckless, or covered it as another sign of his mental decline.
From the Right
In the coverage, AllSides analyzed the presence or absence of three integral story elements:
Whether the outlet reported the quote as “ended cancer,” or not; If the outlet mentioned the official White House transcript, which reported the quote as “can end cancer”; and if the outlet alluded to or acknowledged the President’s words as a speaking error.
|Media Outlet||"Ended Cancer"||Transcript||Error|
|Daily Mail (Right)||X||X|
|The Daily Signal (Right)||X|
|The Daily Wire (Right)||X||X|
|Fox News (Right)||X|
|New York Post (Lean Right)||X||X||X|
|The Post Millenial (Lean Right)||X||X|
|Red State (Right)||X|
|RT (Lean Right)||X|
|The Telegraph (Lean Right)||X||X||X|
|The Western Journal (Right)||X|
From the Center
At the time of writing, Newsweek (Center bias) was the only Center-rated source AllSides found to have covered the story. Newsweek said the clip shows the President “supposedly saying he ‘ended cancer,’ calling it, “the latest jab from conservatives who repeatedly point out flaws in the president's speeches.”
Newsweek quoted Biden as saying “We can end cancer as we know it,” by the accord of the official transcript. The outlet mentioned Biden’s lifelong stuttering problem, and said he appears to have slurred the words “can” and “end” together to make it sound like the word “ended” instead.
Newsweek highlighted that it is not uncommon for Biden to make mistakes while speaking – or for conservatives to criticize him for it — and said it reached out to the White House for comment.
From the Left
Snopes rated reports that Biden said “We ended cancer as we know it,” as miscaptioned and linked the White House’s official transcript, without explicitly mentioning it. Snopes acknowledged that Biden made a mistake when speaking, saying it sounded like he said “We can ended cancer as know it.”
Snopes did note, however, that Biden was speaking within the context of policy goals, and that it would not make sense for him to be talking about “ending” cancer, hence why it should be interpreted as the quote from the official transcript, “We can end cancer.”
Right-rated media outlets appear to be in consensus that President Biden did say “we ended” cancer, and both Newsweek and Snopes seem to agree that his words sounded like that as well. Members of the AllSides team who worked on this piece agreed that it sounded like “ended” as opposed to “can end.”
However, many outlets on the right omitted the fact that Biden was speaking about a hypothetical scenario, meaning that whether he said “can end cancer as we know it” or “ended cancer as we know it,” it’s highly unlikely that he meant either literally. Suggesting he did while omitting the full context could be considered misinformation, or at the very least shows bias by omission and slant.
Some media outlets did acknowledge that Biden did in fact make a speech error, as well as his history of speech gaffes.
This adds to the ongoing discussion surrounding Biden’s mental sharpness, which several right-rated sources mentioned in their coverage while framing his “ended cancer” comment as a massive factual error.
Context is vital in understanding the events that happen around us. It’s important to independently evaluate primary sources like video clips to ensure you’re getting the full picture, instead of relying only on what biased news outlets choose to report.
Andy Gorel is a News Curator at AllSides. He has a Center bias.