Since at least June 2023, claims have spread on social media platforms that U.S. President Joe Biden called Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who was the first openly gay Cabinet member confirmed by the U.S. Senate, "Secretary Booty Juice."
On Aug. 24, for example, a TikTok post claimed that Biden had walked to a podium after shaking Buttigieg's hand and said, "Thank you, Secretary Booty Juice." The video had 5.5 million views on the platform at the time of this writing.
But Biden did not, in fact, mispronounce Buttigieg's name (which is properly pronounced BOO-tuh-jej) as "Booty Juice." Social media posts asserting that he did so took advantage of the fact that Biden spoke quietly and mumbled as he said the name. The power of suggestion also played a role. It doesn't help that the words "Secretary Booty Juice" appear on the screen at the same time Biden mumbles "Secretary Buttigieg" in these clips.
We found the same video clip posted on X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram and Facebook. We also found posts promoting the claim in other social media posts dating from before that specific video was posted, like a TikTok post in July 2023 and a YouTube video in June 2023. We also received reader mail inquiring about the truth of the claim.
The clips of Biden saying thank you to Buttigieg came from an event held on May 8, 2023, at the White House. They did not appear to have been altered. We compared them to high-quality video footage of the event available on C-SPAN and YouTube, including the White House's YouTube account, as well as the YouTube accounts for reputable news organizations like The Washington Post and CBS News.
The event was focused on a proposed federal rule that would require airlines to compensate passengers for "controllable" flight cancellations and delays. According to the official White House transcript, Biden opened his remarks by saying, "Thank you, Secretary Buttigieg. Thank you all for being here. Please, sit down."
As is evident when one listens carefully to the raw video, Biden did not pronounce the name as "Booty Juice." On the contrary, his pronunciation, though not perfectly clear, was relatively close to Buttigieg's own. We rate video clips claiming that he did as Miscaptioned.
We have previously fact-checked other claims regarding Biden's self-acknowledged tendency to commit verbal gaffes, including whether he had said he had cured cancer and whether he in fact said the N-word in a recorded speech.