USA Today was forced to issue a correction on a so-called "fact check" looking into the backlash President Biden received for looking at his watch during a dignified transfer ceremony in honor of the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in a terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport.
Daniel Funke, whose Twitter bio says he is "checking facts + covering misinfo" for USA Today, authored a fact check on Wednesday examining whether or not Biden actually kept checking the time on his wrist as the caskets of the fallen were rolled onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base last weekend, sparking outrage among the families who witnessed the distracted president.
"[Biden] did appear to check his watch during his visit to Dover Air Force Base. But he did so after the dignified transfer ceremony was over," Funke wrote. "Footage leading up to the moment shows Biden with his hand over his heart for about 30 seconds as vans carry the service members' remains off the tarmac. After the vans had left, Biden closes his eyes briefly before dropping his arms and glancing down at his watch."
The fact check ruled the claim "partly false," writing that the image of Biden that circulated on social media was real but that it does not "accurately summarize" what occurred.
Critics blasted USA Today for suggesting that the Gold Star families who alleged they saw Biden check his watch multiple times during the dignified transfer ceremony had lied.
The next day, USA Today issued a correction.
"Corrections & Clarifications: This story was updated Sept. 2 to note that Biden checked his watch multiple times at the dignified transfer event, including during the ceremony itself," the correction read at the top of the report on Thursday. "The rating on this claim has been changed from partly false to missing context."
The headline also changed from "Fact check: Biden honored service members killed in Kabul, checked his watch only after ceremony" to "Fact check: Biden honored service members killed in Kabul, checked his watch during ceremony."
Funke took to Twitter on Friday amid the firestorm of criticism expressing "regret" for the error.
"Journalists and fact-checkers are human (yes, even me!) We make mistakes. When we do, we correct them and try to make it right," Funke wrote. "It's easy to dunk on journalists when we get things wrong. I get it – to many, we're just another name on a screen. But behind that screen is a person trying to do their best."