2014 White House photo altered to make blackout claim


From racial justice to COVID-19, President-elect Joe Biden has a lot to tackle in his first 100 days in office.


The claim: Image shows White House with lights off for the ’10th night in a row’

President Joe Biden took the oath office on Jan. 20 and has pledged that his first 100 days days in office will include tackling the coronavirus pandemic, reversing immigration policies and addressing criminal justice reform. 

A viral post on Facebook uses an image of the White House with no exterior or interior lights on to criticize the first days of Biden’s presidency and suggests that the president hasn’t been in the Oval Office.

The allegation follows previously debunked claims that Biden wasn’t legally inaugurated or that he is physically unfit for office and plans to step down. 

“10th night in a row no body (SIC) home,” reads the text over the dark White House image. The post was shared on Jan. 30 and has over 800 shares and 200 reactions. 

The user captioned the post, “Very strange.” One user commented, “10 days of darkness.”

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user for comment. 

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Image is from 2014

The image used in the claim was taken years before Biden was sworn in as the 46th president, and the photo has been altered to add a darker effect.

A Google reverse image search shows the image was taken by photographer Robin Runck and posted to Alamy Stock Photos on July 9, 2014, when Biden served as vice president under Barack Obama. The photo’s caption reads, “White house in Washington at night.”

In the original image, a lantern – which has hung in front of the White House entrance for 118 years – is lit, as well as other lights that surround the White House fountain. 

The Facebook version of the image has been altered to remove illuminating lights and darken the overall appearance of the scene. 

This is not the first time the image has been misused. During protests against police brutality last summer, the same photo went viral online alongside the claim that the White House went dark for the first time in history when former President Donald Trump was taken to a bunker. 

Those claims were debunked by the Associated Press and FactCheck.org in June. 

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White House lights turn off at 11 p.m.

While the image has been altered, it is normal for the lights at the White House to be turned off at 11 p.m. every day, according to people who have worked close to the building.

“As someone who has done many late night live shots, the lights at the White House go off every night around 11 p.m.,” CNN’s chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins tweeted in June.

Former White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley also confirmed to Newsweek last summer that White House lights always go out in the evening and it is “nothing new.” 

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Washington Monument power outage

Claims about a White House blackout could have been sparked by rumors surrounding a recent power outage at the nation’s capital. 

On Jan. 25, “White House Black Out” was trending on Twitter after the exterior lights of the Washington Monument went out, NewsNation Now reported. 

National Mall and Memorial Parks spokesman Mike Litterst told the outlet that the outage was caused by a timer failure that controls turning lights off and on. He said the lights will be operated manually while the timer is replaced. 

While some on social media claimed that the lights at White House went out along with the Washington Monument, the White House was not affected by the outage, according to Litterst.

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Our rating: Altered

An image of the White House with the lights off used to claim that President Joe Biden isn’t in office has been ALTERED, based on our research. The image was taken in 2014, while Biden was vice president. The image has been previously misused and debunked by other fact-checking sites. While there was a recent power issue in Washington, the White House was not affected and it is normal for lights at the White House to be turned off at 11 p.m.  

Our fact-check sources: 

  • Alamy Stock Photo, July 9, 2014, White house in Washington at night
  • FactCheck.org, June 4, “Viral Posts Share Old, Edited White House Photo in Dark”
  • Associated Press, June 2, “Old image edited to show White House black out”
  • Newsweek, June 1, “White House Says Lights GO Out Same Time ‘Almost Every Night’ After Facing Criticism for Going Dark Amid Protests”
  • Kaitlan Collins, Jun 1, Tweet
  • NewsNation Now, Jan. 26, “Here’s why the lights were out at the Washington Monument on Sunday night”
  • USA TODAY, Jan. 12, “Fact check: Story that Pope Francis was arrested is fabricated”

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

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


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Wednesday November 2, 2022