Fact Check: Doctored Photo Falsely Puts Epstein, Biden Together

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
 Fact Check: Doctored Photo Falsely Puts Epstein, Biden Together Digital Edit

Does an image authentically show President Joe Biden and the late sex-crimes offender Jeffrey Epstein posing together? No, that's not true: Digital editing was used to fake the shot, putting the two men together in a photograph that was never taken. The doctored picture first began appearing online in 2020.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on June 6, 2024. The headline above the photograph in the post says:

Any bets on why the Epstein list hasn't been released yet?

Just asking for a friend.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Jun 20 20:23:50 2024 UTC)

Jeffrey Epstein photo

The Epstein half of the picture was taken in 2005. The original photograph shows him with José Fanjul, a Florida sugar and real estate entrepreneur. Lead Stories used the reverse image search tool TinEye to find it (here and archived here). The picture of the two men was used in an August 20, 2019, Vanity Fair article. A screenshot of it appears below:


(Source: Vanity Fair screenshot taken on Thu Jun 20 22:13:59 2024 UTC)

Joe Biden photo

The Biden portion of the fake image comes from a photograph that originally appeared on the website of The Friedlander Group. Their "About Us" page says the organization provides "government and public relations counsel to non-profit organizations as well as corporate and foreign entities." Lead Stories also used a TinEye search to find the picture with Biden. It can be seen below in a screenshot from the group's website:


(Source: The Friedlander Group screenshot taken on Thu Jun 20 22:49:53 2024 UTC)

It's not clear when the photo was taken but the URL for the image includes "U.S._Senator_Joseph_R._Biden__Jr._001.jpg." Biden was a senator from January 3, 1973, to January 15, 2009.


Roughly combining the two photographs, after cropping them, Lead Stories put them together in PowerPoint, creating a similar image to the fake one shown in the social media post.:


(Source: Vanity Fair and The Friedlander Group screenshots taken on Thu Jun 20 2024 UTC)

Epstein's record

Epstein died in 2019 awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking minors. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges of soliciting an underage victim in Florida and was required to register as a sex offender.

Read more

At the time this was written, the claim had previously been reviewed by multiple fact checking organizations in December 2021, including PolitiFact, Reuters, USA Today, Check Your Fact, Snopes and The Dispatch.

Other Lead Stories fact checks mentioning Epstein can be found here.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks on claims involving Biden can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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