Fact Check

Did Karine Jean-Pierre 'Admit' Biden Won't Visit Maui After Fires Because 'It's Not a Swing State'?

The August 2023 fires that spread across Hawaii's second-largest island killed over 100 people, making it the deadliest U.S. fire in over a century.

Published Aug. 16, 2023

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre takes questions during the daily briefing on July 24, 2023 in Washington, DC. Jean-Pierre answered a range of questions during the briefing. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Image Via Win McNamee/Getty Images
Claim:
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that U.S. President Joe Biden wouldn't visit Maui after the August 2023 fires, and added, "It's not a swing state."

On Aug. 15, 2023, a website called The Dunning-Kruger Times published an article with the headline, "KJP Admits Why Biden Won't Visit Maui: 'It's Not a Swing State,'" with "KJP" standing for White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The Associated Press reported that the fires that scourged Maui earlier in August left more than 100 people dead, with more victims to be tallied in the future, making it the deadliest U.S. fire in more than a century.

The article from The Dunning-Kruger Times began as follows:

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre may have made a career-ending mistake when she let loose the truth of why President Joe Biden isn't planning on visiting Maui after the devastating fires destroyed an entire town and killed nearly a hundred people.

After the typical rhetoric about how much money they've spent on FEMA and how supplies were flowing immediately, KJP took questions from reporters. She probably wishes she didn't.

Telemundo's Joseph Barron asked the secretary why the president hasn't been there yet. Her reply stunned the entire room.

"It's not a swing state," was the soundbite that mattered. As soon as she said it the room went silent. KJP quickly tried to change the subject, then ended the press conference early. Just another day in Biden's America.

However, this was not true. The Dunning-Kruger Times describes its content as containing "parody, satire, and tomfoolery." The website is part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense.

The satirical article's reference to "Telemundo's Joseph Barron" was a fake name that's often featured as "Joe Barron" in stories published by The Dunning-Kruger Times.

According to a genuine statement from Jean-Pierre that was published on Aug. 16, Biden and first lady Jill Biden will both travel to Hawaii on Aug. 21 to visit areas affected by the fires:

The President and First Lady will travel to Maui on Monday, August 21 to meet with first responders, survivors, as well as federal, state, and local officials, in the wake of deadly wildfires on the island.

In Maui, the President and First Lady will be welcomed by state and local leaders to see firsthand the impacts of the wildfires and the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred on the island, as well as discuss the next steps in the recovery effort. The President continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawaii need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster.

Over the past week, President Biden has stayed closely in touch with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Hawaii Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, as well as Hawaii Governor Josh Green, who advised that the search and recovery efforts are expected to be at a stage early next week to allow for a presidential visit.

On The Dunning-Kruger Times' "About Us" page, it says, "Everything on this website is fiction."

The website also breaks down the term "taters," which is used by its loyal followers to describe users who believe the untrue stories:

"Taters" are the conservative fans of America's Last Line of Defense. They are fragile, frightened, mostly older caucasian Americans. They believe nearly anything. While we go out of our way to educate them that not everything they agree with is true, they are still old, typically ignorant, and again — very afraid of everything.

Our mission is to do our best to show them the light, through shame if necessary, and to have a good time doing it, because…old and afraid or not, these people are responsible for the patriarchy we're railing so hard against. They don't understand logic and they couldn't care less about reason. Facts are irrelevant. BUT…they do understand shame.

Sources

"Flagg Eagleton." "KJP Admits Why Biden Won't Visit Maui: 'It's Not a Swing State.'" Dunning-Kruger-Times.Com, 15 Aug. 2023, https://dunning-kruger-times.com/kjp-slips-and-admits-why-there-will-be-no-trip-to-maui-its-not-a-swing-state/.

"Maui Public Schools Begin to Reopen, Enroll Students from Fire-Affected Areas. Follow Live Updates." The Associated Press, 9 Aug. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/live-updates-maui-fire-hawaii-wildfire-162a9fcdefe648d6bcd6557af70d894f.

"Statement from White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on the President and First Lady Traveling to Hawaii." The White House, 16 Aug. 2023, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/08/16/statement-from-white-house-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-on-the-president-and-first-lady-traveling-to-hawaii/.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.