Fact check: Posts misrepresent Biden kneeling for photo with Seattle Storm at the White House

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The claim: Biden took a knee to impress the Taliban

Social media users have criticized President Joe Biden in the past for taking a knee and have linked him to a social justice movement started by now-former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick – kneeling during the national anthem.

Last year, USA TODAY debunked a claim that Biden took a knee when he saw an American flag when in fact he knelt to speak to a child at eye level. USA TODAY also debunked another claim that he took a knee during the national anthem at a campaign visit in Miami. In July, USA TODAY also debunked a claim about Biden kneeling during a meeting with Israeli officials.

The most recent claim is that Biden took a knee during a visit by the 2020 WNBA champion Seattle Storm to the White House.

An Aug. 23 Facebook post claims "Biden took a knee today. To impress the Taleban (sic.)." The post features an image of Biden holding a green and yellow jersey and kneeling with the team behind him.

The post accumulated more than 2,000 interactions in the first week.

A reference to Afghanistan also echoed in tweets.

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook and Twitter users for comment.

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The photo of Biden with the players, coaches and executives is authentic, but the claim misleads about the reason he knelt.

Biden knelt for a photo with the team

On Aug. 24, following the Seattle Storm's visit to the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki answered questions about the incident.

"We don’t know what happened yesterday," said a reporter at the briefing. "Was he in support of – taking the knee in support of police reform, or was he just kneeling?"

In response, Psaki said, "Well, the president certainly supports police reform, but he also was taking a photo with a sports team, and he has also kneeled in other occasions with sports teams in the past."

President Joe Biden holds a jersey as he poses for a photo with the 2020 WNBA champions Seattle Storm in the East Room of the White House on August 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Storm defeated the Last Vegas Aces in the 2020 WNBA Finals to win their 4th title as a franchise.
President Joe Biden holds a jersey as he poses for a photo with the 2020 WNBA champions Seattle Storm in the East Room of the White House on August 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Storm defeated the Last Vegas Aces in the 2020 WNBA Finals to win their 4th title as a franchise.

During the visit, Biden congratulated the team for its work on and off the court and highlighted the Storm’s Force4Change Initiative, which is part of the team's efforts for social justice.

But USA TODAY found no evidence to support any claim that Biden knelt in support of social justice or to impress the Taliban.

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USA TODAY reached out to the White House for comment.

Biden has knelt for photos before

In early July, the Los Angeles Dodgers visited Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House to celebrate their 2020 World Series title.

Biden and Harris posed for a picture with the team and the president knelt.

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris pose with the Los Angeles Dodgers team as they welcome the 2020 World Series Champions during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on July 2, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris pose with the Los Angeles Dodgers team as they welcome the 2020 World Series Champions during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on July 2, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

In May, a Reuters photo showed Biden and first lady Jill Biden posing for a picture during a Medal of Honor ceremony with Korean War-era Army Col. Ralph Puckett at the White House. The president knelt here as well, as did South Korean President Moon Jae-in, next to a seated Puckett.

Last year, Biden, visited the Rev. Silvester S. Beaman at the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, where he posed for a picture with the pastor and attendees. Reuters pictures show him kneeling then, too.

Our rating: False

The claim that Biden took a knee to impress the Taliban is FALSE, based on our research. The president welcomed the 2020 WNBA champion at the White House and knelt for a picture with the team. This isn't the first time he has posed kneeling for pictures with a sports team or in other settings.

Our fact-check sources:

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Posts mischaracterize Biden photo with Seattle Storm

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