Social media post shows fabricated story about Biden and the economy

The claim: Image shows headline of story in The Atlantic praising Biden for having the courage to shrink the economy

In July, the Commerce Department reported the economy shrank for a second straight quarter, stoking recession worries. President Joe Biden has rejected that description and has taken steps to strengthen the economy.

Nevertheless, a July 30 Facebook post has helped spread the false notion that Biden has purposefully hurt the economy and wants to see it contract. It shows an image of fabricated headlines from a nonexistent article by The Atlantic. The post was shared more than 100 times in four days.

The headline of the purported story reads, “The Quiet Courage of Biden’s Negative Growth Economy.”

The supposed subheadline reads: “In an era of unchecked economic prosperity, one man had the moxie to pump the brakes – to save us from ourselves.”

But a spokesperson for The Atlantic told USA TODAY the article and the headlines in the image are fabricated.

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USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.

President Joe Biden speaks about "The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 28, 2022.

President Joe Biden speaks about “The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 28, 2022.

The Atlantic headline is not real

The image in the social media post does not depict real headlines, and The Atlantic never wrote such a story, Anna Bross, a spokesperson for The Atlantic said.

“We have reported this as fake and as a trademark infringement,” Bross told USA TODAY in an email.

The story was not published on The Atlantic’s website and does not appear on The Atlantic’s Twitter account.

In July 2021, The Atlantic did run a story headlined “The Quiet Courage of Bob Moses,” but the story had nothing to do with Biden or the economy. 

In the image, Tim Nichols is shown as the author of the purported story, but Bross said The Atlantic does not have an author by that name. Tom Nichols is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, but he did not write a story with this headline.

Our rating: Altered

Based on our research, we rate ALTERED an image that claims to show The Atlantic ran a story praising Biden for having the courage to shrink the economy. A spokesperson for The Atlantic said the story and the headlines are not real.

Our fact-check sources:

  • The Atlantic, accessed Aug. 2, Homepage

  • The Atlantic, accessed Aug. 2, Twitter profile

  • The Atlantic, accessed Aug. 2, Tom Nichols

  • The Atlantic, July 28, 2021, The Quiet Courage of Bob Moses

  • USA TODAY, July 28,  Biden rejects recession label, declares nation is ‘on the right path’ despite shrinking economy

  • NPR, July 28, U.S. economy just had a 2nd quarter of negative growth. Is it in a recession?

  • Associated Press, July 28, US economy shrinks for a 2nd quarter, raising recession fear

  • Bureau of Economic Analysis, Aug. 3, Gross Domestic Product

  • Anna Bross, Aug. 2, Email exchange with USA TODAY

  • USA TODAY, July 28, Economy shrank 0.9%, marking second straight contraction and stoking recession worries

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Altered image shows fabricated Atlantic story on Biden

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