Jen Psaki Falsely Claims Biden Never Looked at Watch During Ceremony for Fallen Troops

US President Joe Biden looks down alongside First Lady Jill Biden as they attend the dignified transfer of the remains of a fallen service member at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware. (Getty Images)
May 13, 2024

Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki falsely claimed in her new book that President Joe Biden did not look at his watch during a 2021 ceremony for American troops who were killed in Afghanistan, Axios reported on Monday.

"The president looked at his watch only after the ceremony had ended. Moments later, he and the First Lady headed toward their car," Psaki, now a host for MSNBC, wrote in her new book Say More, accusing Biden’s critics of engaging in "misinformation" and trying to make Biden "appear insensitive, concerned only about how much time had passed."

Psaki’s remarks are at odds with photographs of the event and fact-checks at the time, as well as first-hand accounts of several family members of the 13 U.S. service members killed by a suicide bombing during the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to Axios.

"Biden checked his watch multiple times at the dignified transfer event, including during the ceremony itself," reported USA Today, whose fact-checkers confirmed two photos by an Associated Press photographer of the president looking at his watch twice, including once during the ceremony.

The victim’s family members who were standing near Biden have also said the president checked his watch while caskets were being transferred, Axios noted in its Monday report. 

"While I stood there on the tarmac watching you check your watch over and over again, all I wanted to do was shout out, ‘It’s two fucking thirty, asshole,’" Mark Schmitz, the father of one of the victims, said in front of Congress in August 2023.

Another victim’s mother, Shana Chappell, wrote on Facebook the day after the ceremony, "I watched you disrespect us all 5 different times by checking your watch!!! What the fuck was so important that you had to keep looking at your watch????"

Psaki initially declined to comment but conceded her error after Axios published the story. "The detail in a few lines of the book about the exact number of times he looked at his watch will be removed in future reprints and the eBook," Psaki said in a statement.

Published under: Jen Psaki , Joe Biden