The claim: Secret Service agent was driving truck in Ford visit, not Biden
After videos of President Joe Biden driving Ford’s first all-electric truck took over social media, some users doubted it was actually him behind the wheel.
During a May 18 visit to Ford Motor Co.’s electric vehicle plant in Dearborn, Mich., Biden tested Ford’s F-150 Lightning pickup truck – set for release in 2022.
A May 19 article from the Gateway Pundit jumped on this visit to further the false but long-running conspiracy narrative that Biden is being controlled because he isn’t mentally or physically fit for the nation’s highest office.
“WOW! Biden Caught Fake Driving – Someone Else is Steering Vehicle – It was All a Stunt!” screams the headline from Gateway, a far-right news and opinion website that frequently distributes misinformation.
But video screengrabs that supposedly prove a Secret Service agent was driving with a secondary steering wheel are misleading. Video published by the Associated Press clearly shows one steering wheel and Biden controlling the vehicle.
Gateway Pundit declined to answer questions about their report or provide evidence of their claims.
Truck had one steering wheel
Gateway Pundit claimed the truck Biden drove had two steering wheels, and that he wasn’t really driving. According to the site, it could be seen during a blurry video posted by C-Span.
The claims are inaccurate, according to Melissa Miller, manager of government and public policy communications at Ford.
“There was only one steering wheel in the vehicle the president drove,” Miller said in an email to USA TODAY.
A frame-by-frame analysis of the video shows the Secret Service agent in the passenger seat was reaching his hand toward the dashboard. About 1 minute, 22 seconds into the video, a clear shot of the dashboard shows there isn’t a second steering wheel, just a DSLR camera.
And when Biden drives away, the video shows the agent has his hands on his lap, not on a steering wheel.
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USA TODAY found similar claims across Facebook and Instagram. Users shared images that allegedly show the interior of the truck has two steering wheels.
Those images are actually from the interior of a Lexus LS 600hL, which Toyota developed in 2017 to test if the car could drive itself. The car has dual steering wheels, dual breaks and dual accelerators.
Our rating: False
We rate the claims that a Secret Service agent was driving a truck instead of Biden FALSE, based on our research. Ford confirmed the model Biden was driving had only one steering wheel, and a frame-by-frame analysis of the video shows the Secret Service agent was reaching for a camera placed on the dashboard.
Our fact-check sources:
- USA TODAY, May 18, President Joe Biden visits Ford electric vehicle plant in Michigan
- USA TODAY, May 18, President Joe Biden test drives the new electric Ford truck and Twitter could not ignore his speed
- Melissa Miller, May 19, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Associated Press YouTube, May 18, Biden takes the wheel of new F150 electric truck
- C-SPAN, May 18, President Biden Test Drives Ford Electric Vehicle
- Biden Memes, May 19, Facebook post
- Republican Party, May 19, Instagram post
- Toyota Sept. 27, 2017, Toyota Announces Progress in Advanced Technology Research at Toyota Research Institute
- Toyota Research Institute YouTube, Sept. 27, 2017, Guardian/Chauffeur Autonomous Vehicle Platform Demonstration
- The Verge, Sept. 27, 2017, Toyota’s new self-driving car has two steering wheels to prevent robot joyriding
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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.